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Focus on Creators open letter tops 2,400 signatures

Margaret Atwood, Gord Downie, Alanis Morissette, and Rosemary Sullivan are among more than 2,000 writers, musicians, and visual artists who have signed their names to an open letter asking the government to support the creative sector of the Canadian economy.

The collective, Focus on Creators, addressed the open letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau copied. Pitched as a “call to action,” the letter asserts that while the creative sector in Canada has been broadly open to adapting itself to the new digital realities of the 21st century, in practice artists and creators are materially less well off than was the case 20 years ago. “[W]hile some of us have found success,” the letter states, “too many others are being squeezed out of the marketplace. The middle class artist is being eliminated from the Canadian economy. Full-time creativity is becoming a thing of the past.”

According to the Focus on Creators website, the letter was delivered to Joly on Nov. 29, 2016, at which time it contained 1,077 signatures. A tweet from John Degen, executive director of The Writers’ Union of Canada, indicates that as of today, that number has reached 2,400 and counting.

According to a statistics page on the site, writers in 2015 made 27 per cent less on their writing than they did in 1998. The group calls on the Canadian government to take into account the conditions of artists, writers, and other members of the creative class as it continues its review of Canadian policy for grants and other support to the arts sector, along with the mandated five-year review of the revamped Copyright Act.