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Arts & Culture

Michael Ignatieff announces new support for Canadian artists

Posted on April 21, 2011

MONTREAL – A Liberal government will turn the page on five years of Conservative neglect and hostility towards arts and culture by strengthening this key sector of the economy with a boost to the Canadian Council for the Arts and programs that promote Canadian artists to global markets, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced today.

“In communities right across this country, and especially here in Quebec,we have some of the greatest artists in the world – authors, musicians, dancers, painters, and actors – who every day inspire us, teach us, and project Canada’s image and values abroad,” said Mr. Ignatieff at a roundtable with Culture Montréal, where he was joined by Martin Cauchon, Liberal candidate for Outremont, and Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal candidate for Honoré-Mercier.

“Arts and culture is central to the identity of Canada and Quebec, which is why Liberals believe the federal government has an important role to play in promoting our artists,” said Mr. Ignatieff.  “The Conservatives don’t agree – they see culture as the private domain of elites and treat the cultural community with contempt, without ever acknowledging how important the cultural sector is to the Canadian economy.”

A Liberal government will support our artists as they navigate both the opportunities and challenges of the new digital society by:

  • Doubling the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years;
  • Restoring the PromArt and Trade Routes cultural promotion programs to help Canadian artists promote themselves to markets around the world, bring international buyers to Canada and strengthen Canada’s cultural industry, with increased funding to these programs of $25 million per year; and
  • Providing the CBC and Radio-Canada with stable and predictable funding in support of their unique and crucial roles.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, culture generates more than $80 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits every year, and creates 1.1 million jobs across the country.

“Arts and culture remains a major engine of our economy,” said Mr. Ignatieff. “Artists and creators tell Canada’s story on a daily basis, across our country and around the world.  Today, the digital revolution offers exciting opportunities for artists to reach global audiences.

“We can strengthen Canadian arts and culture – without raising taxes on families – if we stop corporate giveaways, control wasteful spending, and focus on what really matters: giving every Canadian the tools to succeed in the years ahead.”

BACKGROUND
Promoting arts and culture and home-grown content in a Digital Canada

The cultural sector is a major engine of the Canadian economy.  According to the Conference Board of Canada, culture generates more than $80 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits every year, and creates 1.1 million jobs across the country.

Artists and creators tell Canada’s story on a daily basis, across our country, and around the world.  They inspire us, teach us, and project our image and values abroad.  Today, the digital revolution offers innovative opportunities to reach global audiences.

Liberals have always been committed to the value of cultural expression and understood that artists are hard-working citizens.  A Liberal government will support our artists as they navigate both the opportunities and challenges of the new digital society.

As news and entertainment choices proliferate, accelerated by new digital technologies, concerns have grown about the future of Canadian content in our major media and local news and programming.  In this fragmented media environment, public broadcasting is an essential promoter and defender of Canadian culture, in both French and English.  On the radio, on television, and through the Internet, the mandate of the CBC and Radio-Canada remains to inform, enlighten and entertain with programming that is distinctively Canadian, reflecting the country and its regions to national and local audiences.

Doubling funding for the arts

The Canadian Council for the Arts is a major force in supporting Canada’s working artists. The Council is Canada’s national, arm’s length arts funding agency, providing grants, research funding and promotional funding to individual artists and arts organizations throughout the country.  A Liberal government will significantly increase support for Canadian artists and creators by doubling the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years.

Reversing Conservative cuts to international arts promotion

In 2008, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government cancelled the PromArt and Trade Routes cultural promotion programs. These programs helped Canadian artists promote themselves to markets around the world, brought international buyers to Canada and strengthened Canada’s cultural industry.

A Liberal government will reverse this short-sighted decision by restoring the PromArt and Trade Routes cultural promotion programs and increasing funding to $25 million per year.

Stabilizing funding for the CBC/Radio-Canada

A Liberal government will provide the CBC and Radio-Canada with stable and predictable funding in support of their unique and crucial roles. The role of the public broadcaster is especially significant for Radio-Canada, which remains the unique defender of the French language on the airwaves from coast to coast to coast. 

Questions and Answers

Q: How much will this initiative cost?

A: A Liberal government will double the annual budget of the Canada Council for the Arts, from $180 million to $360 million over the next four years. We will also increase funding for cultural promotion to markets around the world by increasing the budgets of PromArt and Trade Routes, for a total investment of $25 million.

Q: Why are you doubling the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts?

A: We believe in the role of culture as an economic driver. This is an industry that generates, directly and indirectly, upwards of $80 billion a year and employs over 1.1 million Canadians. One of the ways in which we can support our artists and creators is to increase the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Q: Where are you going to get the money to fund your cultural programs?

A: First, this is a choice that we will make because we believe in supporting culture.

Second, as responsible managers of taxpayer dollars, we have identified a revenue source for each of our new commitments. To fund this particular commitment, we will use the proceeds from the upcoming wireless spectrum auction. Part of the auction proceeds will be used to support investments in arts and culture.

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