Arts Valuable in Support of Freedom of Expression: Heritage Minister

By Limin Zhou, Epoch Times
January 21, 2015 11:15 pm Last Updated: January 22, 2015 5:20 pm

OTTAWA—Heritage Minister Shelly Glover says the arts are important to freedom of expression and encourages the Canadian arts community to “never give up”—a reference to the recent Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris that left 12 dead.

“Arts and culture are valuable to support freedom of expression,” said Glover. “We will remember forever what happened in Paris.”

Glover made the comments at a reception following the annual public meeting of the Canada Council for the Arts held Jan. 20 at the council’s office in Ottawa.

Glover noted that Canada is the only G7 country that did not cut direct funds to artists during the global recession and recovery, and praised the work of the council and the value of arts and culture.

“I’m proud to be part of a government that thinks that arts and culture must be recognized—not may be recognized or should be recognized—they must be recognized,” she said, adding that the government understands “that it’s the quality of life that arts and culture bring to Canadians that is most valued.”

She noted that the arts and culture sector employs 630,000 Canadians and brings close to $50 billion to the economy every year.

In his speech, council director and CEO Simon Brault addressed the complaints of some artists that the submission process for funds and grants is too complicated and time-consuming.

He suggested that, like many other arts councils both in Canada and around the world, the Canada Council for the Arts “needs to simplify the administrative and decision-making processes so that artists and organizations can devote more of their creativity and energy to their art practices and interactions with the public, and less trying to wade through the maze of an excessive number of programs.”

“We will take up the rallying cry of our colleagues at the Australia Council for the Arts: ‘More sweat and tears in the art forms than in the application form,'” said Brault.

Brault also said the council needs to be prepared to innovate and “streamline” if it is to keep pace with rapidly expanding technological and societal changes and remain relevant in the 21st century.

“Promoting the production of works of art is no easy task at a time when the glut of available content has reached proportions that would have been unimaginable a mere five years ago, and when ways of engaging with the arts are changing so radically,” he said.

With files from Kathy Gillis