Arts Day on Parliament Hill

Arts Day on Parliament Hill 2018 image

On October 2, the Canadian Arts Coalition organized a highly successful Arts Day on Parliament Hill, where arts advocates from across the country came together to meet with Members of Parliament and to promote the arts. OC’s Executive Director Katherine Carleton was one of more than 100 advocates who took part.

The participants in this event were put into teams, and each team met with MPs, Senators, staff and key officials over the course of the day. Katherine, along with colleagues (Cathryn Gregor, Canada’s National Ballet School; and Steven Smits, Volcano Theatre/Peggy Baker Dance Company) had the opportunity to meet with four MPs or staff: Wayne Easter (Malpeque, PEI), Larry Miller (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, ON), Ali Ehsassi (Willowdale, ON) and Anthony Rota (Nipissing Timiskaming, ON)

The Canadian Arts Coalition prepared participants for their meetings through a training webinar, as well as a series of downloadable materials in English and in French, including a meeting script and documents to leave behind, customizable for each MP.

“MPs are keen to know about the impact that federal investment in the arts has in their ridings,” Katherine says. “By and large, they are very aware of the artists and arts organizations in their ridings, but the connection between federal policy and those wonderful individuals and organizations is not always so clear.”

Arts Day on the Hill is an opportunity for beginners and experienced arts advocates alike. “It’s for anyone who might benefit from thoughtful federal arts policy and funding,” Katherine says. The Coalition removes a lot of the stress surrounding these meetings by setting them up for you, and providing sound research, statistics, and infographics. They also pair up people of differing levels of advocacy experience so that you can also learn from the team who go into the meeting with you.

While there is a lot of value in the wide scope of the arts messaging that the Coalition prepared, there is also much value in advocacy work that is specifically related to orchestras. “I tended to speak to the positions that specifically addressed orchestras’ needs, while my colleagues addressed “asks” that more directly affected their sectors,” Katherine explains. “Still, the feedback that we received during meetings – and the discussions we started – will make it easier to return with more orchestra-specific messages.”

We asked Katherine how the orchestral community might participate in this advocacy work on its own behalf.

“Orchestras Canada’s advocacy committee is planning an Orchestras in the Ridings Week in January that we’d like all our members to take part in. We’re preparing orchestra-specific messages that we’d like you to discuss with your MP, and we’ll provide a training session, downloadable templates and leave-behind materials to help get you prepare. The Advocacy Committee will be testing these materials with their own MPs this November, and committee members and the OC team are there to support you along the way.”

Last year, OC ran its own Orchestras Day in Ottawa, and our intrepid teams met with over 20 MPs and Senators.  We’d like to triple that number this year, and with your help, we’ll make it happen!

Advocacy Update: August 2018

As summer draws to a close, we are writing to update you on OC’s recent advocacy work with the federal government. In July, we surveyed members to affirm the sector’s main federal public policy priorities. Not surprisingly, ensuring that the Government of Canada follows through on its full commitment to increased funding to the Canada Council for the Arts topped the list for respondents. Other high priorities? Sustained and increased funding to the Endowment Incentives component of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund and better training opportunities for emerging arts professionals.

These priorities formed the basis of Orchestra Canada’s pre-budget recommendations to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. The annual pre-budget process provides organizations like ours the opportunity to put forward its main policy priorities to the federal government. They also form the basis of our year-round advocacy activity. Orchestras Canada has consistently participated in this process, on behalf of its members, for over ten years.

Specifically, Orchestras Canada recommended that the federal government:

1. Ensure that the five-year $180 million investment for the Canada Council for the Arts announced in Budget 2016 be sustained and fully realized in Canada’s long-term fiscal plan.
2. Update the guidelines for, and enhance the budget of, the Endowment Incentives component of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, to help arts and culture organizations raise private sector contributions and develop stable, long-term revenues through the growth of endowment funds.
3. Increase the investment in the arts administration and arts practice component of the Young Canada Works program by $500,000 per year, to expand the number of funded positions, help emerging cultural workers gain valuable training and early work experience, and enable strong succession planning in arts organizations.

Several of our recommendations are shared by other organizations in our sector, including Opera.ca and a consortium of large arts organizations – including several orchestras – focused on securing support to the Endowment Incentives program.

What next?

Orchestras Canada staff, together with the Advocacy Committee, will be working this fall to meet with MPs and their staff in key ridings to share our recommendations and increase awareness of the impact of orchestras in our towns and cities.

Over the course of the fall, we will also be preparing for an Orchestras in the Ridings Week, tentatively scheduled for January 2019, during which we’ll be encouraging all our members to meet with their MPs in January. We’ll be in touch with more details as soon as possible.

Canadian Arts Coalition Update

The Canadian Arts Coalition, a collaborative non-partisan movement spearheaded by a group of national arts service and membership organizations – of which Orchestras Canada is a member – is preparing for Arts Day on the Hill, 2 October 2018. If you’re interested in participating, you can find out more, and register on their website.

Advocating on behalf of its broad membership base, the Canadian Arts Coalition put forward these two recommendations in its pre-budget brief:

  • to increase the funding to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund for performing arts presenters and festivals by $30 million in order to create synergies with other federal investments and to enable Canadian productions to be competitive both on the domestic market and on the world stage.
  • to recognize the professional status of Canadian artists by implementing fair taxation in order to establish a more coherent and predictable support and fiscal ecosystem.

The full brief can be found at www.canadianartscoalition.com

Orchestras Canada makes recommendations to the Federal Standing Committee on Finance

In early August, Orchestras Canada submitted a brief to the federal Standing Committee on Finance as part of the committee’s annual pre-budget consultation process.

Informed by a member consultation, our discussions with advocacy partners, our sense of the current political climate, and discussions with OC’s Advocacy Committee, OC made four recommendations to the Committee this year:

Recommendation 1: Ensure that the five-year $180 million investment for the Canada Council for the Arts announced in Budget 2016 is sustained and fully realized in Canada’s long-term fiscal plan.

Recommendation 2: Acknowledge the fundamental importance of digital capacity in the arts by ensuring there are comprehensive, integrated, accessible, and forward-thinking federal programs and policies in place.

Recommendation 3: Enhance the Endowment Incentives program (part of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Investment Fund), to help arts and culture organizations develop stable, long-term revenues through the growth of endowment funds.

Recommendation 4: Help arts and culture organizations provide full-time, career-oriented work opportunities to recent graduates of post-secondary institutions by expanding the Young Canada Works program.

You can find the entire brief HERE.

We urge Canadian orchestras to read the brief, and share it with their Members of Parliament, as an attachment to an email, as a hard copy inclusion in a letter on orchestra letterhead, or through discussion in a face-to-face meeting in your riding. Whether your MP is an opposition backbencher, or a member of the federal Cabinet, we’d like them to be aware that federal policy and investment decisions can have significant local ramifications.