Since March of last year, Canadian Art has been operating under a critical financial situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and a consequent drop in revenue from in-person fundraising events, advertising, and corporate sponsorships. In 2020, for the first time in our history, we had to cancel the publication of a Summer issue. We also reduced the volume of online publishing and the frequency of our newsletter as the entire staff shifted to a four-day workweek. These were difficult measures to take.
In addition to working under conditions of austerity, the staff and board of Canadian Art began a process of transformation to address structural racism and inequity in our workplace. Following the events of last summer, we undertook a facilitated co-design process intended to restructure the organization based on principles of equity and anti-oppression. This included implementing interim positions for senior leadership (publisher, editor-in-chief, deputy editor) to allow for change to the institutional structure such that it could be collectively reimagined.
We have recognized how challenging it has been for Canadian Art’s staff, artists, writers, partners and readers as we have navigated these uncertain times. Despite the reduced capacity and internal changes, it has been impressive and encouraging to see how our team adjusted to changing schedules, projects and priorities and continued to produce work at a high level. The quality of editorial content never wavered and that is to the credit of an extremely talented and collaborative group of people. We are grateful for the true dedication and commitment of Canadian Art’s staff during this challenging year.
In 2020, Canadian Art accessed emergency government funding to help us through the year. In 2021, we will not be able to rely on the same levels of support and are still facing substantially decreased revenue streams. The board of directors considered many different scenarios, including ones that would see us wind down operations after 37 years of publishing. No one wants this to happen. After very difficult and thorough deliberations, the board has come to the decision to postpone the Summer issue, to pause online publishing and to temporarily layoff 12 staff for a period up to three months. We want and need to be as transparent as possible—this decision comes as a very last resort.
In the coming weeks, we will be undertaking all efforts to assess the future of Canadian Art. These are not easy times or easy decisions. We thank our valued staff, readers, contributors, donors, sponsors and community for your support and patience as we navigate this unprecedented time.
Canadian Art Board of Directors