Canada House

Measuring the Canada Council’s commitments

January 21, 2020

Measuring the Canada Council’s commitments

January 21, 2020

Pierre Lassonde's Speech,
Annual Public Meeting, January 21, 2020

I’d like to open by saying that I am incredibly proud of the work the Canada Council has undertaken this past year.

As many of you know, the board has an important contribution to make to the Council, and I can assure you that we take this responsibility to heart.  

The board provides oversight of the Council’s policies and investments. We also engage in discussions with the Council’s management about priorities in an ever-shifting landscape.  

We do all this by paying close attention to the conversations taking place across Canada and around the world—conversations about the arts, audiences, and engagement. 

We also rely on the information the Council’s teams gather about its granting activities—information about its applicants and recipients, and the various outcomes of its programs and initiatives.

The Impact of the Council’s investments

Over the last four years, the board has strongly encouraged the Council in the development of its capacity to measure the impact of its investments.

Through measurement, the Council is able to assess the progress of its commitments—and make adjustments where needed so that those commitments are met by the end of the current strategic plan.

In 2016, the Council launched its strategic plan. In that same year, the government announced that it would incrementally increase the Council’s budget over a five year period. With this, the Council articulated several important goals to bolster its support and deepen Canadians’ experiences of the arts by 2021—at which point the current strategic plan will come to an end, and the Council’s budget will have doubled to $360 million. 

This past year, the Council drew on its new business intelligence tools as it made key decisions that allowed it to stay on track towards the delivery of its commitments.  

I’m thinking, for example, of the commitment to make sure that 25% of the new funds the Council receives with the doubling of its budget reach new recipients—a commitment we’re on track to deliver by 2021.

We believe this commitment will be hugely impactful for Canadian society as we reach the next generation of creators—a generation that is increasingly diverse and digital. Put another way, this commitment is about the renewal of our arts sector, a renewal that will ensure the arts remain an integral and vital part of life in Canada.  

I’d also like to briefly note that the Council has made great strides in recent years towards its capacity for both quantitative and qualitative measurement.  

And during my mandate as Chair, it’s been a great pleasure to witness the Council become a world-leader in the field of measuring the impact of public investment in the arts. 

Stats and Stories 2018-19

The Canada Council is committed to the principle of transparency.  One of the ways the Council shares knowledge with the public is Stats and Stories, an online tool that provides key information on its support in each fiscal year.

This past fall, the Council launched the 2018-19 edition of Stats and Stories. With this tool, some of the things you can discover include:

  • data on the Council’s various programs, areas of investment, regional reach, and five year trends;
  • stories about grant recipients—what they did with the Council’s support, and the presence of their work across Canada and around the world;
  • and downloadable data tables that you can use to find the information that’s of greatest interest to you.

An Increased visibility

As the Council deepens its capacity to turn knowledge into action, it strengthens its capacity to support the arts across Canada.

Indeed, last year the Council supported artists in 733 communities across Canada.

And the Council’s presence extends beyond Canada—as more and more artists are reaching international audiences with the Council’s support.

But I’ll leave it to you to learn more about this support—across Canada and around the world—by exploring our website.  

On the right track

All this to say, the Council has made important progress in recent years—drawing on its knowledge to make informed decisions so that we’re on track to deliver all of our commitments. 

I’d like to congratulate Simon Brault for his leadership this past year, and for fostering a culture of evidence-based decision making at the Council. I am certain that his second term as Director and CEO will be as successful and inspiring as his first. I am impressed by the strength and commitment of the executive team, and by what they have achieved—and I thank them on behalf of the Board. 

As we move ever closer to 2021, I am confident that we’ll achieve the ambitious plans we set for the Council a little over four years ago. And I look forward to working with my colleagues and management to imagine an even more impactful arts sector in Canada—and to find ways to make our shared vision a lasting reality.  

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