Canada Council for the Arts Releases Strategic Plan 2016-21

The Canada Council for the Arts has released its new strategic plan. The document, called Shaping a New Future, will guide the agency’s actions over the five years spanning 2016 to 2021.

In January 2016, the Canada Council conducted an online survey that gathered input from 4,220 stakeholders. This feedback on the Council’s vision and directions helped shape the objectives outlined in the five-year plan.

In the 2016 federal budget, delivered March 22, 2016, the federal government committed to doubling the Canada Council’s budget over the next five years. By 2020–21, the Council will deliver a total of $310 million annually in grants and contributions. The Council has stated that this investment will enable it to “scale up” the impact of its work, be it through grants, prizes or partnerships, to develop and share the professional arts in Canada and internationally.

The strategic plan consists of four “commitments”:

  • Increase support to artists, collectives and organizations striving for artistic excellence and greater engagement in the arts by an increasingly diverse public;
  • Amplify the quality, scale and sharing of Canadian art through digital technology;
  • Renew the relationship between Indigenous artists, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences, for a shared future;
  • Raise the international profile of Canadian art and artists.

In addition to these four commitments, the strategic plan identifies Equity and Youth as two further areas of focus that will cut across the four principal commitments. “Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world. This diversity needs to be reflected in the arts—especially given that the arts sector is publicly funded,” the document states. The Council’s work with youth is twofold: It focuses on improving access for young artists to its programs, as well as encouraging youth and children to develop an interest in and appreciation of the arts and literature.

The Canada Council’s new funding model, which will launch in 2017, is a cornerstone of the strategic plan’s implementation. The new funding model will reduce the number and complexity of the Council’s granting programs—from 140 to 6. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Canada Council Director and CEO Simon Brault stated that complete details about the new funding model will be made available in December 2016 with the launch of an online portal related to the new model.

The strategic plan document places an emphasis on what is being referred to as the “digital shift,” encouraging artists and organizations to utilize digital technology to create and share their art. The document states that the Council will develop its first digital strategy over the course of the plan’s five-year cycle, including convening a digital summit in 2017. In the short term, the Council will seek specific feedback about how it should adapt to digital innovations in the arts sector.

On the international front, the document states that the Council will work with government departments and other agencies to increase Canada’s cultural exports, trade promotion and diplomacy.

Additionally, the document reveals that the Canada Council will mark Canada’s 150th anniversary with a special $33.4 million program to support artists and organizations to create and share exceptional arts productions for presentation in Canada and internationally. Details about the program, called New Chapter, will be released in May 2016.

The document states that the Canada Council remains committed to supporting artistic excellence and creative risk-taking, recognizing the important role of peers in assessing artistic quality and impact, and ensuring equity of access to all of its programs and services.

Magazines Canada remains in close contact with Canada Council staff and will keep members informed as further details pertaining to initiatives announced in the strategic plan become available.

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