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Canadian Conference of the Arts, founded by Lawren Harris and other artists in 1945, Announces Sudden Closure

This morning, the Canadian Conference of the Arts, a major, 67-year-old national alliance of the arts, culture and heritage sector across Canada, announced that it would begin winding down its operations immediately due to accelerated cuts in federal funding.

Founded in 1945 by a group of artists, including painter Lawren Harris of the Group of Seven, CCA has had the mandate of promoting the interests of Canadian artists and of the cultural sector at large at the federal level, and of providing a national forum where issues of common interest can be discussed and pursued.

The CCA has been associated with major national cultural policy developments including the creation of the the creation of the Massey-Lévesque Commission in 1949, the founding of the Canada Council for the Arts in 1957, the adoption of Status of the Artist legislation in 1992 and the development of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005.

In a release, the CCA stated that a year and a half ago, it became aware of the federal government’s intention to put an end to 47 years of funding. The CCA informed the Department of Canadian Heritage that that in order to become financially autonomous, it would require a minimum of two years of transitional funding to implement a new business model.

However, in mid-April, the CCA was informed that the government had limited its assistance to six months of funding.

The board of governors of the CCA came to the conclusion that it as impossible to achieve the objectives of the new business model in less than two years. It therefore decided to cease operations immediately and to put the organization in a state of suspension “in the hope that in the not too distant future others will pick up the torch and relaunch this unique instrument for the good of the Canadian cultural sector.”

In a release, CCA chair Kathleen Sharpe stated, “Despite our best efforts, transitional support of six months was not enough and we have simply run out of time to develop new revenue streams. But we depart knowing we planned well for such an outcome.”

In a related blog post, Pineau stated, “We remain convinced the Canadian cultural sectors need an organisation like the CCA. We’re talking about a role as convenor, observer, and analyst of the major cultural issues at the national level. In the changing environment we find ourselves in, the Canadian cultural sector needs to pull together, to come out of our solitude, to identify common interests, and to develop strategies to pursue them. The team that you know is withdrawing, but we are leaving you with what you need in order that you may pick up the torch, in new conditions, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.”

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Marcus Miller says:

This is a serious blow for the arts. The Canadian Conference of the Arts represented us at federal hearings and provided excellent, well respected analysis and research. In a general climate of cuts to scientific, cultural and social research capacities, we must conclude that THE HARPER GOVERNMENT has no interest in cultivating an informed and dynamic citizenry.

There is a chill running through arts communities across the country. Colleagues of mine from all fields regard THE HARPER GOVERNMENT’S actions towards the arts as shortsighted, mean-spirited and ideologically motivated.

HARPER’S legacy will leave Canadians in a much poorer position to innovate and creatively craft their futures. Wise and humble leaders would revisit the decision not to renew the CCA’s interim funding for two years so it can succeed in transitioning to its new business model.

Marcus Miller

Jack Daley says:

The Harper Administration is astoundingly non-responsive to the needs and wills of the people by whom they have been granted the privilege to serve…e.g: massive cutbacks, based on nil evidence, to OD&P funding, which, in a different sector, was making a difference in many parts of the third world.

When will we, the people, wake up and call him to account…despite the fact that he may very well choose to respond by proroguing Parliament again and take a test flight in a Lockheed Martin F-35 with hos former buddy Bev Oda…I trust she’ll serve $25-dollar, 8-oz glasses of orange juice for old time’s sake…

Harper sullies the reputations of the fine people who made Leaside such a vibrant, caring community…it is a pity that this consummate nerd was indoctrinated, created and then shown a path to getting even with those whose capabilities and contributions he resented by a hard-core right wing mentor in Alberta.

Help us, Obywan Trudeau…we hardly know you, but you are our only hope…at least on the near term.

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