Beyond the Ballot: Sector snapshot Cultural Industries
This is part of a series of regional updates by our cross-country team, who are in-jurisdiction experts regarding the on-the-ground dynamic of the Federal Election.
Arts and culture, while not usually a hot topic in election campaigns and debates, still retain a footing in the political dialogue. Leaders and their parties continue to address unique and relevant issues related to Canadian identity and narrative, economic and built infrastructure for artists and organizations, and the connections between artists, communities, and the rest of the world.
In particular, the relationship between the digital shift, foreign ‘web giants’, and the protection and promotion of Canadian culture has dominated arts and culture discourse during this election campaign.
The image below shows similar, stated commitments from all major political parties.
In terms of increasing or maintaining funds for Canadian Heritage programs, few platforms were strong on specifics. Conversely, many commitments would be administered and supported through the Department of Canadian Heritage, thus requiring additional funding envelopes.
Despite the similarity of positions highlighted above, each party has its own set of unique arts and culture platform commitments to champion:
Liberal Party: commits to a Cultural Diplomacy Strategy, and also a review of a national museum policy. Both policy issues advance committee reports and studies conducted during the 42nd Parliament.
Conservative Party: promised free admission to the nine national museums across the country, with the expected $20-million in lost revenue fees to be offset by annual government contributions. They also commit to making new designations to heritage sites, including the RCMP Heritage Centre in Saskatchewan and the gravesites of former Prime Ministers and Governor Generals. They commit to increase funding for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program.
NDP: commits to funding for Indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre, and to income tax averaging for artists and cultural workers.
Bloc Québécois: commits to further promotion of Quebec culture, including Quebec having their own CRTC. The Bloc was the only party to mention anything related to Copyright, including reviewing the royalty rules with the Copyright Board for online music. They were also the only party to explicitly mention the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Fund, similar to the conservatives, both of which currently have committed increased investments until 2021, with no permanent plan thereafter. The Bloc also mentions further support for booksellers.
Green Party: as the first party announcing their official platform document, many of the other parties have since mirrored the Green Party’s commitments. The Green’s unique podium issue is calling for a review of tax incentives for film production.
While these platforms generally appeal to a broader voter-base, many arts workers and stakeholders are anticipating and looking for the continuance of the Copyright Act Review, and the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts Review. Most parties have been silent on the next steps they would take to advance the numerous stakeholder consultations and reports that have been released to-date related to these two major exercises.
A look at the history books
How has the Government of Canada invested in arts & culture over the last two successive majority governments?
- Double the budget of the Canada Council for the Arts
- $300 million to Cultural Infrastructure projects over 10 years
- Creation of the Creative Export Strategy
- Increased funding to the CBC/Radio-Canada, Telefilm Canada, National Film Board
- Review of the Copyright Act
- Review of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts
- Canada 150 Celebration
- New funding to promote, preserve and enhance Indigenous languages and cultures
- Tax incentives for journalism
- Increased funds to the Canada Media Fund, Canada Music Fund, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, and Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Fund
- Introduced Children’s arts tax credit
- Commemorations for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812
- Support through Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program
- Increased lifetime cap for the Endowment Incentives Fund
- Support for the Canada Music Fund
- Support for the Canada Book Fund
- Renewed arts funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, Canada Cultural Investment Fund, Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, Canada Arts Presentation Fund, and Fathers of Confederation Buildings Trust