An historic rendezvous with our future

An historic rendezvous with our future

Posted 22 March 2016 by Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.
Budget announcement-Canada Council for the Arts

Like millions of people

For 35 years, I have argued non-stop to have the social benefits of the arts and culture fully recognized. I’m passionate about this cause – like the arts themselves, it inspires me and has helped me to grow in many ways. I’ve met amazing artists, seen works and projects that redefine our relationship with the world, debated (both frankly and hesitantly) with corporate and political decision-makers, witnessed the impact of arts organizations within our communities, felt the effects of cultural diplomacy in the world, and joined audiences everywhere in applauding unforgettable and transformative performances.

That’s why I was so moved today to read the first budget of the Trudeau government. It led me to ponder my own responsibilities and those of my colleagues. Today, I know that we can begin writing a new chapter on the artistic and cultural history of this country – our history. A chapter that restores to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people the place that has been denied them, reflects the diversity of our population, encourages young people to be the custodians of our future, and invites artists, philosophers, scientists and intellectuals to share their creativity and passion with each of us. A movement has begun, and we are all invited to join it, and the millions of individuals who are enriching our culture of diversity.

From Growing the Middle Class, Federal Budget 2016

From Growing the Middle Class, Federal Budget 2016

The future: a new chapter begins

A little over 18 months ago, the Canada Council for the Arts began a major transformation. At the heart of this transformation are artists, arts organizations and the entire population. It goes without saying that we considered society as a whole. We are, after all, a public arts funding agency operating in a democracy. Our purpose is to ensure that the arts strive for excellence, and that they nourish our confidence in the humanity and freedom that allows us to flourish as a people and as individuals.

As a first step to achieving this, we focused on transforming our funding model, which comes into effect in 2017. We wanted it to be open to creation and innovation: simple, not intimidating and bureaucratic, better able to scale up and measure the impact of the arts on us as individuals and as a society. The transformation we envisaged 18 months ago was resolutely turned toward the future. Our strategic plan, to be launched in the coming weeks, will outline the directions we want to follow and the destination we want to reach. It will focus on artists and audiences in tomorrow’s economy, an ambitious digital strategy for the arts, a renewed relationship between the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and non-indigenous Canadians, and the international outreach of our artists and their work.

What we could not have predicted 18 months ago was that at the moment we embarked upon our new funding model, we would be given additional resources to fulfill the ambitions that guided its creation.

Art is all of us

For almost 60 years, the Canada Council for the Arts has supported artistic excellence. Today it is committed to increasing tenfold the benefits the arts bring to our lives.

I invite you to this historic rendezvous with our future – a future where art is each and every one of us, together.

Simon Brault

About the Author: Simon Brault, O.C., O.Q.

Simon Brault is the Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. Author of No Culture, No Future, a collection of essays on the rise of arts and culture on public agendas, he has participated actively in initiatives such as the Agenda 21C de la culture au Québec. An initiator of Journées de la culture, he was also a founding member and chair of Culture Montréal from 2002 to 2014. In 2015, he received the Quebec CPA Order’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award for bringing together “two worlds that were once disparate – the arts and business – an alliance that significantly benefits society at large.” Follow Simon Brault on Twitter: @simon_brault

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