Well, it’s official. We go back to the polls on April 23rd to vote for our new provincial government. With the PCs facing some nontrivial opposition for the first time in a while, Albertans can expect political candidates to be paying more attention than usual to the mood of voters. And for many Albertans, it’s also an opportunity to spend a bit more time than usual becoming educated about political issues, and carefully evaluating the ideas that prospective leaders will advance in the next few weeks.
For many of us, finding ways to bolster the health of the arts eco-system in Alberta is an important part of the political conversation. If you feel this way, there are a couple of organizations in Alberta that exist for the purpose of advocating for the arts and for making it easier for arts-friendly citizens to connect.
In Edmonton, you can connect with PACE (Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton). Calgary has its own advocacy group called ArtsVote Calgary, an organization that was quite active in the last municipal election. Both PACE and ArtsVote have in the past held town halls and gathered responses from political candidates with a special emphasis on policies pertaining to the arts and culture—in fact, ArtsVote has already begun to gather and make public candidates’ responses to arts-related policy questions. There are plenty of opportunities to become active in both groups as the provincial election heats up.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the websites of these organizations, and will pass on regular updates. If you become aware of any arts-relevant political events, discussions or articles that you think readers of this blog would be interested in, please pass them on, and I’ll do my best to disseminate the information (you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’d also appreciate hearing about any other arts advocacy groups that might exist in regions other than Edmonton or Calgary.
We’ve been following the progress of the new copyright bill, Bill C-11. One of the biggest issues to affect writers is the extension of the definition of “Fair Dealing”. Since the bill is now before a Parliamentary Committee, this is the last chance we have to voice any reservations we might have about the bill. The Writers’ Union of Canada has put together the following call to action, and if you share this concern about the bill, now is the time to do something about it. Here’s the message from TWUC to the WGA, along with a template for a letter you can use or adapt if you want:
Today is the beginning of Freedom to Read Week, “an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
To many Canadians, censorship and the suppression of ideas is something that mostly happens in other countries. But recently, scientists, journalists, and science writers in Canada have been sounding the alarm over systematic policies by the Canadian federal government to restrict the communication of scientific findings and thinking to the general public.
To draw attention to the crisis, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently held a panel discussion called Unmuzzling Government Scientists: How to Re-Open the Discourse at its annual meeting in Vancouver on February 17. (Despite its name, the AAAS is an international organization dedicated to advancing science around the world.)
The entire panel discussion can be viewed here, and it is chilling. Continue reading
A short while ago, I posted about the CCA (Canadian Conference of the Arts), which was founded 66 years ago to represent the interests of all Canadian artists and cultural professionals at the federal level. CCA was behind the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts, the federal Act on Status of the Artist, the creation of the Cultural Human Resources Council, to name but a few of its contributions. CCA intervenes regularly on our behalf in front of parliamentary committees and regulatory bodies and it supports cooperative work as in the case of the review of the Copyright Act.
The CCA has recently learned that the federal government has decided to end its decades-long funding to this organization. As a result, the CCA director has been on a road trip in various communities across Canada (including Calgary and Edmonton) to get a sense of how the organization should develop a new funding plan and possibly a new mandate. As part of this process, the CCA is looking for input from artists with regards to which services are most important for the organization to take on. The organization has generated a list of proposed services, and is also looking for artists to contribute to an online survey about these priorities. Please take a moment to fill out the survey:
See the list of proposed services.
Fill out the online survey.
The WGA is an organizational member of the CCA, so we will also be giving feedback from the organization’s perspective. But individuals can also hold memberships in the CCA. Here are some benefits of joining the organization:
- 35-50 bulletins per year, distributed by e-mail, presenting thorough and clear-sighted analyses of current events and issues impacting arts and culture in Canada.
- Opportunities to participate in topical teleconferences on important subjects;
- Invitations to play part in special committees and working groups on cultural policy issues;
- Discounted rates for registration in CCA conferences and special events, such as the National Conference, the Chalmers events and symposiums.
You can find more information about joining the CCA here.
In light of the government’s lack of support for the CCA, it seems all the more important for the arts community to step in and make sure we have a voice in arts advocacy at the federal level. Please consider supporting or learning more about this organization.
From Susan Carpenter:
Kathryn O’Hara, past president of the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, wrote a letter to our prime minister asking for the freedom to speak publicly. Did you know that Canadian scientists who wish to speak to the media must first vet that through public affairs officials in Ottawa and are sometimes denied their right to speak even though many have their work published?
South of the border they have the scientific integrity policy that allows scientists to speak by adding a disclaimer that in essence says ‘this is not government policy, but personal opinion’. Sounds easy enough.
This comes from Susan Carpenter:
The information highway is deserted today. Wikipedia and others are staging a blackout in protest of the US government’s anti-piracy act. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) aims to stop copyright infringers online through a series of penalties. Is this a case of goverment versus civil liberties? Just like our contentious copyright adventures in Canada, it seems that neither side can agree on how to protect copyright without trampling on freedom of information and the right to share it. Check out the Globe&Mail and National Post articles below and let us know what you think.
A message from the Canadian Conference of the Arts:
How? Mark your calendar for an important think-tank workshop with Alain Pineau from the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
The Canadian cultural sector is facing considerable changes in its operating environment. One of those is an increasingly clear change in the way the federal government sees its role regarding arts and culture. Now more than ever before, there is a need for greater cohesion in the arts, culture and heritage sector. This is the message that Alain Pineau, National Director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts is bringing to all of us on February 1
For those who don’t know, the CCA was founded 66 years ago to represent the interests of all Canadian artists and cultural professionals at the federal level. CCA was behind the creation of the Canada Council for the Arts, the federal Act on Status of the Artist, the creation of the Cultural Human Resources Council, to name but a few of its contributions. CCA intervenes regularly on our behalf in front of parliamentary committees and regulatory bodies and it supports cooperative work as in the case of the review of the Copyright Act. Continue reading