On October 21 (just one day before the tragic shootings in Ottawa), I represented CNMN at the Canadian Arts Coalition‘s annual Day on the Hill. This event brings hundreds of artists and administrators to Ottawa to meet with elected representatives to talk about arts policy, and to underscore the importance of the arts to Canada’s development. This was the seventh Day on the Hill Event, an event which has been mentioned by the members of Parliament as one of the key reasons that Canada Council funding has NOT been cut. We show up, we make the case, and they actually listen.
The goal this year was to start moving away from the “don’t cut us mentality” to the “we really need new investments in the arts” approach. This is done in relation to the upcoming federal elections (2015) and the Canada 150 celebrations (2017).
I was scheduled to meet three members of parliament. Due to some last-minute complications, only one of the meetings happened. I met with NDP member Tyrone Benskin, member for Jeanne-le-Ber in Montréal (who is actually my own MP!). Mr. Benskin was, in fact, a professional actor and artistic director before becoming an MP, so our arguments fell on fertile ground. Mr. Benskin also chairs the non-partisan Arts Caucus on Parliament Hill, and he is important to getting the message out to other members.
At the end of the day, we all gathered for a meet-and-greet cocktail, with many MPs (Elizabeth May, Marc Garneau, Mr. Benskin, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, etc). Current Heritage Minister Glover was not available, but ex-Heritage Minister (and current Industry Minister) James Moore was on hand and did give a nice, very friendly thanks to all for our work.
Though our work was very clearly overshadowed by the regrettable events of the next day, this event has become an important moment for arts policy in Canada, and it is important that CNMN be part of the event.
Tim Brady – QC representative