The Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA), the largest national alliance of the arts, culture and heritage sector across Canada, announces that it will begin winding down its operations immediately. Founded in 1945 by a group of eminent artists, including painters Lawren S. Harris, of the Group of Seven, and André Biéler, the CCA has the unique mandate in the Canadian cultural sector 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 name of the CCA has been associated with all major cultural policy developments at the federal level, from the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts in 1957 to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005.
A year and a half ago, the CCA became aware of the Harper government’s intention to put an end to 47 years of funding. The CCA informed the Department of Canadian Heritage right from the beginning that it embraced the challenge of making the CCA financially autonomous, but that in order to do so, it would require a minimum of two years of transitional funding to implement a new business model. The CCA held a series of nation-wide public and private consultations, received unequivocal support for the relevance of its mandate and developed a comprehensive and ambitious 2012–2017 Business Plan. However, in mid-April, the CCA was informed that the government had limited its assistance to six months of funding, clearly an enormous hurdle for the organization to overcome. Despite considerable efforts and early positive results, the Board of Governors of the CCA has come to the conclusion that it is impossible to achieve the objectives of the new business model in less than two years. The Board considers that it would be irresponsible to risk the money generously offered to the CCA so far: it has 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 re-launch this unique instrument for the good of the Canadian cultural sector.
CCA Chair Kathleen Sharpe states, “The CCA leaves a proud legacy. I would like to congratulate the Board and staff for their rigorous and aggressive approach to implement and sustain a new business model. 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.”National Director Alain Pineau adds, “The past seven years have been the most challenging and exciting ones of my professional life. This was not the way I was hoping to end my time with the CCA, but I leave knowing that all of us at the Secretariat have given everything we had to make this transition a success. I can only hope that someone else will pick up the challenge. The Canadian cultural sector needs and deserves a CCA if it is to be effective and thrive.”
The CCA will be leaving behind a legacy of research, archives and projects. A message to members on the closure, from both Alain Pineau and Kathleen Sharpe, is available on the CCA’s website at www.ccarts.ca.
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