After 67 years serving the country’s cultural industries, the Canadian Conference of the Arts is shutting down.
According to a press release issued by the CCA, Canada’s largest arts advocacy agency learned 18 months ago that its federal funding was to be cut. In response, the CCA asked the Department of Canadian Heritage for two years of transitional funding while it investigated ways of becoming financially autonomous, but was ultimately offered only six months.
In a letter to supporters, CCA board chair Kathleen Sharpe says, “Time was not on our side to keep operations going as we tried to restructure, and we resolved that it would be irresponsible on our part to accept funding, private and public, under such circumstances.”
In an email to CBC, a spokesman for Canadian Heritage defended the government’s decision, stating, For over 35 years this organization has received up to 60 per cent of its budget from the government of Canada, including this year, where funding was provided to give the council the opportunity to work with individuals and groups it claims as its stakeholders to develop a new mandate and funding model.
CCA national director Alain Pineau says the University of Ottawa will take over the organization’s annual analyses of provincial arts, culture, and heritage budgets, and plans are underway to continue its federal analysis. Important CCA documentation will be moved to the National Archives and a board of governors will be appointed to oversee the organization’s legacy.
The CCA was founded in 1945 by a collective of artists that included Group of Seven painter Lawren S. Harris and poet F.R. Scott. Today, it represents about 200 members, including the Book and Periodical Council, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, the Canadian Publishers’ Council, the Literary Press Group of Canada, the Writers’ Union of Canada, and several provincial writers’ guilds.