Thank you, Micheline McKay, and welcome Éric Dubeau!

A message from our Executive Director, Katherine Carleton

Micheline McKaySince 2013, Orchestras Canada has been privileged to work with Micheline McKay as our government relations consultant. Micheline has served as trusted advisor, analyst and reliable source of information and feedback to the OC staff, board and Advocacy Committee. Her good sense, high ethical standards, discretion, hard work, and political insights have inspired us all. On a personal note, she’s the best and most patient co-writer I’ve ever worked with, handling my relentless editing and wild spins on things with great aplomb. I also recall with great admiration the role she played in our Orchestras on the Hill day in early 2018: the passionate tributes that Minister of Canadian Heritage and the chairs and vice chairs of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage paid to orchestras that day came about because of Micheline’s tact and effective organization.

In the fall of 2018, Micheline let us know that she was closing her government relations practice to focus on other things. We bade her a fond farewell in early March, and thanked her on behalf of the entire OC community. She has done exceptional work with us over the last five and a half years and we are grateful.

Éric DubeauStarting April 1, we’ll be welcoming Éric Dubeau as OC’s new government relations advisor. Éric, based just outside Montreal, has many years of experience as an arts advocate, political staffer on Parliament Hill, policy wonk, association leader, granting officer, arts consultant, and award-winning singer-songwriter. His unique skills and collaborative, informed approach make him an ideal successor to Micheline, and we can’t wait to get started!

Our thoughts on the Federal Budget 2019

Map of CanadaThe federal budget, announced on March 19, is the last before this fall’s general election. The budget document included acknowledgment of the importance of the cultural sector, stating:

Across the country, Canada’s artists and their supporters bring people together, to appreciate and celebrate the diversity and creativity that Canadians are known for the world over. Our cultural industries are also an important source of jobs—employing more than 650,000 Canadians—and are a key contributor to our economy, worth nearly $54 billion each year.

To continue advancing the cultural sector, Budget 2019 announced:

$20 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to the Canada Music Fund.
The Canada Music Fund (CMF) helps the Canadian music industry meet new challenges. A wide range of musicians and entrepreneurs who create, produce and market original and diverse Canadian music are eligible to apply. The CMF is the primary tool implementing the three major objectives of the Canadian Sound Recording Policy, From Creators to Audience, which are: to enhance access to a diverse range of Canadian music choices through existing and emerging media; to increase the opportunities available for Canadian music artists and entrepreneurs to make a significant and lasting contribution to Canadian cultural expression; and to ensure that Canadian music artists and entrepreneurs have the skills, know-how and tools to succeed in a global and digital environment.)

$16 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund.
The Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) provides financial assistance to organizations that professionally present arts festivals or performing arts series (arts presenters) and organizations that offer support to arts presenters. Through the CAPF, Canadians have access to a variety of professional artistic experiences in their communities. Each year, the CAPF supports approximately 600 professional arts festivals and performing arts series, as well as other activities related to art presentation, in more than 250 cities or communities across Canada. The CAPF has two main components – Programming and Development. The CAPF Programming component has two streams: Professional Arts Festivals and Performing Arts Series Presenters; and Presenter Support Organizations.)

$24 million over two years, starting in 2019–20, to the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program, the Celebration Program, and the Commemoration Program
The Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program was created to help you celebrate your community – both its past and its present. This program increases opportunities for local artists, artisans, heritage performers or specialists to be involved in their community through festivals, events and projects. It also allows local groups to commemorate their local history and heritage.

Celebrate Canada provides funding for activities organized on National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21); Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24); Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27); and Canada Day (July 1).

The Commemorate Canada program provides funding to initiatives that commemorate and celebrate historical figures, places, events and accomplishments of national significance. The program favours commemorations and celebrations marking 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th anniversaries and subsequent anniversaries in increments of 25 years.

In addition, support of $1 million is being provided over two years to Canadian Heritage’s efforts to integrate Gender-based Analysis plus (GBA+) in program design.

More broadly—but still of potential value in the arts and culture sector—the budget includes provision for a doubling of work placements for youth through the Canada Summer Jobs program in 2019–20, and new funding to modernize the Youth Employment Strategy.

Budget 2019 continues measures already announced in previous budgets, including staged funding increases to the Canada Council for the Arts, which will double the Council’s parliamentary appropriation (from a 2016 base) by 2021.

What this means for orchestras

The budget’s positive references to the social and economic impact of the arts represent good news for the arts and culture sector. Further, the continued, sustained increase to the Canada Council for the Arts was Orchestras Canada’s number one priority, as put forward in our 2019 pre-budget submission. This looks to have been achieved. Each of the other program increases that we’ve cited may – in very different ways – offer opportunities for Canadian orchestras, and Orchestras Canada will be keeping you apprised of what we learn in the coming weeks.

Next steps
  • Orchestras Canada will review the detailed spending estimates when they’re made available, to better understand the fine details of the budget’s impact.
  • We will reach out to partner umbrella organizations to learn more about the potential impact of these new investments on orchestras.
  • We will continue to press for enhanced investment in the Endowment Incentives program.
  • We will monitor changes to the Youth Employment Strategy, with a focus on enhanced opportunities for the arts sector.
  • And, of course, we’ll share what we’re learning with you.

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.