Evidence of meeting #24 for Canadian Heritage in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was museum.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • John McAvity  Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association
  • Kirstin Evenden  Vice-President of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Glenbow Museum, Canadian Museums Association
  • Benoît Légaré  Board Member, Director of Museology, Mécénat conseil inc.; Canadian Museums Association
  • Jessie Inman  Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts
  • Pierre Landry  President, Société des musées québécois

12:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

The very fact that the Canadian War Museum or the Museum of Civilization would be doing it, the word “museum” will be getting out there. I think that will benefit the community as a whole.

The other thing we have done is we have established the Museums Foundation of Canada to be a collective fund, like United Way, as it were. Honestly, we have just not had the resources to implement that. It has quietly been kept alive, and when there was crown status for charitable donations, we tried to make our foundation a crown institution so that it could have the enhanced tax benefits. But that was all levelled in changes to the tax system.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

We are over time. We'll have to pick that up in another round.

Now we are moving to our five-minute round, starting with Mr. Cash.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

That's an interesting idea that my colleague across the way is suggesting. It almost sounds like social democracy to me. So welcome to our side, sir.

I'd like to pick up on a few different things. This has been an excellent presentation. Thank you all. I'd like to know if you know how many theatres are in my riding. That was very impressive.

I share my colleague's concern for the smaller museums. We see, for example, that the increased indemnification is going to help the larger museums, because the smaller ones aren't trucking in things that are worth $400,000 or $500,000, or more. So that's great for museums that, albeit with a lot of struggle, are successful. But we do have some significant challenges.

I'm wondering, for example, with the matching program, how important that would be for the small museums. It strikes me again that the big museums are going to be able to suck up most of those resources. I'd just like to get a general response about that.

12:20 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

I'll mention a couple of things quickly about how to raise funds in a small jurisdiction. I'll talk about our art gallery for a second. A minute ago I talked about a gala dinner on our main stage, if it's a theatre. If it's an art gallery or a museum, one of the things we've learned at the centre is that we have large facilities and spaces, so we host weddings every Saturday and Sunday the whole summer long, and that creates revenues for us. We have learned that people love to have weddings in art galleries, and I'm sure they'd love to have them in museums as well. So I think we have to think of innovative ways to raise money, and to use our facilities for things other than just asking people to come in and look at what's in our museum or art gallery.

What better place to hold an event, even if it's a corporate reception, than a place where you can look at things on the walls, or on the shelves, or what have you? I think we have to be very innovative in how we use our institutions.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Point taken.

We are studying Canada's 150th birthday. You've come here with some general ideas. If we weren't engaged in this study, and in fact if the government hadn't decided to mark the 150th birthday of our country in some way, what would your associations have conjured up on your own? In other words, would you be doing something on 150 anyway? Generally what would that look like?

12:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

Just very quickly, we had been thinking about it before this committee started, and let me tell you, it's really exciting, because we get a chance to blue-sky it. It's not very often that we get the chance to do that. So we see there being a big opportunity, not just for museums, but for Canada and community organizations as a whole. We applaud you for that, and we hope you'll adopt all of our good ideas.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

How's my time?

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

You have a minute.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Great.

I have another question. We see this in Toronto and we see it all across the country. We have all of these beautiful churches, small churches, medium-sized churches, and they are struggling to maintain the integrity of their buildings. These are also cultural treasures in our country.

When we talk about a national museums strategy, I know there was one that was studied several years ago by this committee. I don't know whether they included issues of heritage buildings and churches. Is this on your radar, this issue of churches?

12:20 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

Well, it is, in some ways. For instance, in Rivière-du-Loup there are three churches, and the question is on the table right now, what to do with these three churches. We have a project.

It is a question of expanding the museum. Our space is too limited, considering our collections.

We were looking if it was possible to maybe do something with one of the churches.

It's difficult, because the functions are not necessarily the same.

We can't think of having 150 church museums in Canada. It's a huge problem, but probably it could be addressed by the means we are talking about now. It could be, yes, and in certain communities, maybe.

12:20 p.m.

Board Member, Director of Museology, Mécénat conseil inc.; Canadian Museums Association

Benoît Légaré

Last spring, the Société des musées québécois held a general assembly to reflect on the current situation for museums in Quebec, in other words, where they stand and what direction they want to take over the next five years. I personally chaired one of the committees, which addressed outreach, that is, cultural exhibitions that are educational in nature. What we learned is that religious heritage is a major preoccupation. This means that we share the same preoccupation. The recommendations made by the Société des musées québécois included religious heritage, as well as performing arts heritage. In fact, the latter is also likely to disappear. What I mean are the sets and costumes and so on, basically everything surrounding the performing arts. At present, very few people are taking care of this. So, here we have two new areas of museology that are likely to grow in the years to come.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Cash.

Back to Mr. Calandra.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I would like to go on a bit of a different vein.

I guess all of you can maybe answer, but Mr. McAvity, you talked about the Young Canada Works program. Could you just explain a bit more about that program? What does it do, how many people participate, and in the context of looking ahead, how might we consider augmenting or providing some greater assistance for 2017?

12:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

The Young Canada Works program in heritage has been an extremely successful program. I believe its total budget is about $10 million, more like $8 million or $9 million. We at the Canadian Museums Association administer one of the components. The Heritage Canada Foundation administers a component, the Canadian Library Association represents a component, but the museums tend to be the biggest one because of the nature of our business and being open in the summer.

It's one of the programs that really benefits small museums. It's meaningful that they get one or two jobs for summertime. I visited some of the museums where the program has been in effect—for example, the little museum in St. Martins, New Brunswick—and seen its value. They work side by side with volunteers from the community and really develop effective skills.

This is not a program for young people to go out and mow the lawns, as it were, in museums. They are skill-developing programs. It's evaluated professionally on a national level, and it's come out at ratings that would be the envy of every political party as well. It has 99% approval, so it has been a very good program, success all around. Incidentally, the institutions do contribute 20% of the money, so it is a cost-shared program.

We're just simply overrun with applications. We cannot keep up with them. We are turning down 50% of the employers. You can imagine how many young people are applying to the employers. So in turn there's an opportunity here that we would really like to take advantage of. A couple of million dollars would go a long way.

12:25 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

With regard to this program, I would like to add that, unfortunately, students who go and work at an institution for a year cannot work at the same institution the next year. This makes things very difficult for small institutions, because they have to train new students every time. If even one change could be made to the program, I think that should be it. That would be very useful to institutions, especially small ones, because they have limited staff available to train people.