This will be my last president’s report, as most of you are aware. 2013 – 2014 was a hugely successful year for CNMN, so it is with great pleasure that I present you the “highlights” of what was our most active and dynamic season. “Go out with a bang” as they say!
The year started very quickly with an unplanned but exciting collaboration with the Montréal-based CINARS (International Exchange for the Performing Arts) and the UK-based IAMA (International Arts Managers’ Association). In late August, at the very last minute, they asked CNMN to organise a whole series of Canadian new music concerts as part of the IAMA conference to be held in Montreal in November. Amazingly, we organised an open call to members (with 53 applications!), juried the submissions, and got the whole project organised in 12 days. It was, frankly, an insane effort, and much of the credit for its successful production goes to our administrative director, Emily Hall. The event included many showcases and performances, as well as a workshop on new music, and they were greatly appreciated by IAMA, CINARS, and all delegates, especially the international participants. Many of them came up to me during the event and said they had no idea there was so much new music in Canada, and that it was of such high quality.
This project was funded by a special project grant from the Canada Council, who greatly appreciated the efforts and efficiency of CNMN.
This collaboration was so successful that CNMN and IAMA are teaming up on another, smaller, project this November in Montreal. This new collaboration is at the request of IAMA, who will be paying almost all the costs!
While this IAMA project was going on, we were also planning for the FORUM, which was held in Calgary in January, 2014. Funding for this event was very strong, as we were able to get a new funding stream from FACTOR as well as through the University of Calgary. The U of C was able to add significant cash and in-kind funding to our budget, through both internal grants and a special, targeted SSHRC grant. The budget for the FORUM was around $84,000 – a huge increase over past FORUMs, which tended to hover around $35,000.
With this extra funding we were able to bring in five very high-profile guests, who added a critical dimension to the project. The special guests were: Lawrence Cherney (Soundstreams Canada), Andrew Bruke (London Sinfoniettta – UK), Patricia Rosner (Berlin Philharmonic Media), Melissa Smey (Millet Theatre, NYC) and Nicolas Thiron (Festival Whynote – France).
Our increased budget meant that we were also able to help cover the travel costs of many more delegates, which gave us our biggest attendance ever at a FORUM – over 150 participants. Our foreign guests were quite impressed with the size and scope of the new music community in Canada, and with the quality of both the FORUM’s production and its larger vision of creative music.
The sense of excitement and energy was palpable at the event – the FORUM had a perfect balance of round table discussions, open networking events, and focused workshops and presentations. The Rosza Centre at U of C was the ideal place for the event, with a great concert hall, and several meetings rooms, all in the same building, literally 30 seconds from the hotel. Even the weather cooperated – from Thursday to Saturday, it was so warm we did not even really need to wear coats! On Sunday, winter returned, so it was clearly time to go.
After the FORUM, CNMN started working on six main tasks: Succession planning for the change of President, planning for the New Music Initiative 2015 with CAPACOA, January 2015 in Halifax, updating the CNMN bylaws, continued work for the Digital Content Initiative, pre-planning FORUM 2016, and day-to-day matters.
Here’s a brief overview of these 6 tasks:
- After discussions with several CNMN board members, Kyle Brenders, an ON representative, agreed to take on the Presidency of CNMN starting at the end of AGM 2014, following a vote of the members. I (Tim Brady) will stay on the board, to help ensure continuity and corporate memory.
- CAPACOA (the largest network of presenters in Canada) has asked CNMN to be a special partner at their January 2015 conference in Halifax, creating a main focus on New Music. We’ve called this the New Music Initiative 2015. This is an amazing opportunity to expand our contacts to over 250 main-stage presenters across Canada. This is a big step forward for the community.
- Changes in federal not-for-profit legislation meant that we had to update and submit our bylaws to Industry Canada. Most of the changes are simple, technical details, but we took the opportunity to expand the CNMN board from 12 to 15 members, to add another seat for BC, and to add 2 “non-regional” board members. This new board structure will take effect in the 2016 election.
- CNMN received a $20,000 “Leadership for Change” grant from the Canada Council to pursue our Digital Content Initiative.
- The next FORUM (Ottawa, January 2016) planning is gradually underway. Discussions with local partners have begun (the National Arts Centre, the Ottawa New Music Creators, Ottawa University and Carleton University). CNMN has proven that it is an effective and efficient FORUM organiser, and FORUM 2016 will build on the success and vision of the six previous editions.
There are also the day-to-day matters for CNMN – selling memberships, doing the thrice-yearly Bulletin, writing grants, doing the bookkeeping, etc. For a very small and still relatively young organisation, CNMN manages to do all this with great efficiency. Or perhaps it is because we are young and small that we are so efficient…..
Two final thoughts, as I bring this President’s report to a close.
The first is the enormous pleasure I have had in working with the CNMN board, its members, and our administrator, Emily Hall, over the past 9 years building CNMN. The intelligence, commitment, passion and imagination in our community is quite impressive and I think that CNMN has proven to be an excellent way for us to work together to build a better place for creative music in Canada. Thanks to everyone who has been a part of creating the CNMN we have today.
The second thought is more philosophical. Over the past 9 years (in fact, 11 years, counting the 2 years of pre-CNMN discussion), I have spent many hours thinking about musical creativity, trying to define it to ourselves, trying to defend it to funders and to the public, trying to articulate why we believe that unfettered musical creativity is so vital to our society. There is no single, simple answer. However, at its core, creating music for the love of the art of music is a striking social and political action. Creating music that tries to encompass the scope and complexity of the human condition is a big job, but that is what we have chosen to do. It is inherently humanist in approach, and is predicated on a society where the value of each individual is recognised. Art, including new music, is primarily about the human experience, not about the economic benefit or political power.
This is why creative art is often viewed as a menace to existing economic and political structures. We live in a society which has, for the moment, a reasonable balance between the two forces – the humanist vision and the economic / political vision. That balance, however, is constantly shifting.
I urge all CNMN members to remember, every time you write a new piece, or step on a stage to do a concert, or talk about the importance of music in our society, that you are part of the ongoing political and social discourse that is shaping the world we live in. New music has a role to play in this larger discussion, and it is important that we, as a community, take this role seriously. I believe that CNMN is ideally placed to be a leading voice in this discussion. I hope that my 9 years as President has helped to build both a strong, credible organisation and to make the case for musical creativity as a positive force for social development.