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Canada/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

Many federal cultural institutions are moving away from their sole focus on narrowly defined client groups to a form of broader social inclusion as Canadians, from a dependency on government to higher self-sufficiency, from activity-based relationships to results-based interaction and from direct project support to a sustainable supportive environment. Comparable change is evident in moving from sector policies to a policy framework or vision. The Department of Canadian Heritage has developed and continues to review a multi-year strategic framework and vision (see also  chapter 4.1) as part of its inputs to the annual Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance. Autonomous cultural policy and programme planning is becoming relatively rare in contrast to the traditional role of single-handed government initiatives. The Canada Council for the Arts provides numerous examples of close partnerships with third sector (not-for-profit) associations e.g. Moving Forward - Strategic Plan 2008-2011 (2007) and has broadened the scope of its granting mandate to include new disciplines such as new media arts and new relationships such as the Aboriginal Arts Programme (see  chapter 8.1.2). Periodic reviews of arts and heritage policies and the development of strategic policy frameworks have involved extensive consultations with the respective industry and public interest associations affected thereby.

Most programmes today habitually associate with other organisations such as other federal, provincial and municipal departments and agencies, non-governmental and voluntary organisations, commercial and not-for-profit entities and both individuals and groups of citizens. These partnerships are in place throughout the cultural sector. They range from joint funding undertakings such as the Canadian Television Fund to administrative arrangements where private sector associations implement portions of the Book Publishing Industry Development Programme and the Canada Music Fund (see  chapter 4.2.3). The mandate of Telefilm Canada has also expanded to include "new media" and the Canada New Media Fund as part of its audio-visual responsibilities.

There has been little in the way of privatisation of public-supported culture in Canada at the federal level. The last serious debate over the possible privatisation of national cultural institutions or their possible devolution to the provinces occurred in 1991 as part of failed constitutional reform in the Charlottetown talks. The role of public sector foundations has been to provide financial support for cultural activities usually at a provincial or local level.

Partnerships benefit from a long-term or strategic relationship based on trust. However, the principal reasons why partnerships have become "de rigueur" in Canada are at least three-fold:

  • government budgets can never meet the total demand for spending and services on their own. Financial and other collaboration in the development and delivery of cultural services is a way of sharing costs;
  • the business and scope of culture is increasingly large and complex. All levels of society and many parts of the economy are affected by the cultural sector and hence should participate in its growth and evolution; and
  • the long-range goal of "democratising" the basis of cultural policy is nearer at hand with governments' recognition that policies and programmes can only be successful if they have the imprint of both commercial and not-for-profit input and participation
  • the constitutional make-up of Canada results in the existence of several grey areas in which cultural matters often intersect with others such as education, making it difficult for any one level of government to proceed in isolation from the others.

Provided that associated risks can be managed, collaboration offers governments a way to reach new audiences in non-traditional ways, to build the capacity of others and to leverage expertise and resources. Partnering can include arrangements that are consultative or advisory, contributory or support sharing, operational or work sharing, and collaborative or decision-making. Sponsorship and other forms of partnering are not to be confused with donations or advertising.

Among the multitude of inter-governmental partnerships in which the Department of Canadian Heritage was engaged in 2006 are the following initiatives:

Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Culture / Heritage and Tourism Initiative: aimed at better understanding and improving the link between culture / heritage and tourism. Launched in 2003 following a 1997 directive from the FPT Ministers responsible for culture and heritage, this initiative focuses, inter alia, on common issues and opportunities for cooperative tourism activities within the culture and heritage sector and between the culture and heritage sectors and other tourism stakeholders. The project was renewed in 2006-2007 for two years (see  chapter 3.3 for other FPT partnerships).

FPT working groups: Aboriginal Cultures and Tourism has addressed repatriation of sacred aboriginal artefacts, including human remains, the preservation and promotion of Aboriginal languages, and has produced three reports (see  chapter 9.1). The FPT working group on the 2010 Cultural Olympiad, to take place in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia will continue its work over the next few years. The Cultural Olympiad is part of a major inter-governmental partnership directed towards the preparation for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The 2010 Games Federal Secretariat, in collaboration with federal departments and agencies, the government of British Columbia, and other provinces and territories, as well as the municipal governments of Vancouver and Whistler, is working on the promotion of opportunities across Canada to leverage social and economic benefits associated with hosting the 2010 Winter Games, specifically in the areas of culture and diversity, aboriginal participation, official languages, sport and recreation, economic development, environment and sustainability, volunteerism, and tourism (see  chapter 4.1).

The FPT Initiative on New Technologies has conducted research on the impact of new technologies on the cultural industries and on cultural policy development. In 2007-2008, the New Technologies Initiative is focusing on identifying best practices for government support of new technologies and priority areas for support. In 2007, a new working group on the instrumental and intrinsic benefits of the arts, culture and heritage, was established. Its objective is to develop performance measures that assist government decision makers to assess funding decisions by a) demonstrating the link between arts, culture and heritage activities and the achievement of public policy objectives; and b) demonstrating accountability by arts and culture organisations for the use of public monies. Canadian Heritage agreed to lead the first phase of the project in 2007-2008, which will investigate existing documentation on intrinsic and instrumental benefits of the arts, culture and heritage, and produce a feasibility study report that will outline possible methodologies that could be used to develop common measures. Priority will be given to measures that are identifiable, common (across Canada) and quantifiable. A sub-working group on cultural statistics was also established. The objective is to act as facilitator for the above-mentioned working group on the instrumental and intrinsic benefits of the arts, and to improve communication between Statistics Canada and the provinces and territories, and to meet their cultural statistics needs.

Tri-Level Committees:  These committees bring together funding partners (high officials) from the three levels of government (federal, PT and municipal) as well as staff from federal and provincial arts councils. Their objective is to foster better collaboration and efficiency between levels of governments. Structure and functioning varies from one committee to another, to adapt to specific needs and municipalities involved. Meetings occur on a regular basis to share information and to consult on funding priorities. These committees currently exist in British Columbia, Alberta (Edmonton and Calgary), Manitoba, Ontario (Toronto) and New Brunswick.

400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City:  the project to commemorate and celebrate the 400th anniversary in 2008 of the founding of Quebec City in 1608 is coordinated by the Department of Canadian Heritage Celebration, Commemoration and Learning Programme which works with provincial governments, municipalities and other partners including the Société du 400ième anniversaire de Québec, a non-profit organisation (see  chapter 4.1).

Third sector organisations: The Department of Canadian Heritage has also engaged in partnerships and sponsorships with "third sector" organisations in such areas as national parks and historic sites, diversity training, producing and distributing educational materials on Canada, promoting linkages to sports, artistic and ethno-cultural associations, youth exchange groups and Aboriginal representative, women's organisations, and promoting heritage tourism and Canadian participation in international expositions and fairs. The Community Partnerships Programme provides support to volunteers. The Partnerships Fund is designed to help make Canadian cultural collections available online in both official languages. The Programme associated with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (March 21) benefits from corporate collaboration in both monetary and in-kind support. Funding mechanisms habitually include sustaining grants, contributions (including accountability for the recipient), loans and loan guarantees, cost-sharing agreements, co-operative agreements (non-financial), corporate sponsorship agreements, joint project agreements and contracts. There are also a variety of private sector partnerships at the urban level. In the arts, the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Programme (arts stabilisation) also provides an interesting example of private sector-public sector partnerships designed to encourage realistic financial planning and to avoid future deficits.

Chapter published: 18-01-2011

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