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 museums.

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

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

That's it for now.

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Mr. Nantel.

April 3rd, 2012 / 12:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Thank you.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone here for all their work. Your presence is very important. The Confederation Centre of the Arts representatives appeared on the list very suddenly. We have seen how important your presence here has been and how many federative ideas you have for the 150th anniversary, especially since that is your role, as the museum of Confederation.

Mr. Landry, what you just said about jobs for students is something that we hear quite often. Many people have talked to us about that very problem. It is too bad you have to train good employees only to lose them every year.

I would like to revisit a few points. First of all, Ms. Inman, you are quite right; hosting weddings to increase revenues is a good idea. The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec does the same things and it is very nice. So that is something we can explore.

Speaking of revenues, I would like to come back to a point raised by Mr. Calandra and Mr. Légaré. It has to do with funding and the networking aspect of it. I have a very brief question to ask each of you.

Do you think the Canadian Museums Association would be open to the following idea: before the 150th anniversary celebrations, beginning a campaign to sell a card that would give access to all museums in Canada at a reasonable price, with half of the proceeds going to the museum that made the sale locally? This could be your museum in Rivière-du-loup or the Musée de la femme in Longueuil, which is housed in what is practically a closet and is surviving on whatever it can scrape together. For $100, they could sell a national passport to celebrate the 150th anniversary. They would keep $50 for themselves and the other $50 would go into a communal kitty. There could be partnerships and the passport could offer discounts on travel between the provinces.

Do you think you are organized well enough to take on this kind of campaign? Would this be relevant in the current context?

Mr. Légaré, what do you think?

12:30 p.m.

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

Benoît Légaré

That is an excellent idea. Montreal already has something similar—the Montréal Museums Pass. I worked on that initiative when I was on the executive committee of the Board of Montréal Museums Directors, which brings together the chief administrators of 36 museums in Montreal. The board decided to try different marketing strategies in order to bring people into the museums. One of those initiatives was the Montréal Museums Pass.

This strategy is somewhat similar to the one you described, that is, for each institution to be able to sell the Montréal Museums Pass and obtain a percentage of the proceeds on the cards they sell, so as not to lose entrance revenues.

It benefits, too, since we know that everyone who buys the pass will visit these institutions three times. In other words, each card will generate about three visits, which is good. Furthermore, this encourages people to visit other institutions nearby that they would not necessarily have visited otherwise. However, since their entrance is free, it is good for them, too.

This could eventually be a model that others may want to emulate, since this pass also has a partnership with the Société de transport de Montréal. People can also buy a pass that includes public transit for a period of either three days or two weeks or even a year, if they want.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

This card could have many advantages. Emails could be sent out to anyone who signs up who would like to receive discounts, for example, to take the train to Prince Edward Island to go to a museum there.

Mr. Landry, could small museums handle such an initiative?

12:30 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

Yes, I think something like that would be completely manageable, but not by small museums or by the organization itself. Perhaps the Canadian Museums Association could manage the program in partnership with Canadian Heritage, for example. In any case, this has already been done. I know Kellogg's had a similar promotion a while ago. Things like this are conceivable and definitely desirable. What is important is that it is manageable for small institutions and that one organization oversee everything.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

We are running out of time.

Thanks to my colleague, Andrew Cash, you touched on the issue of churches. Would you agree that there is an urgent and relevant need to protect Quebec's religious heritage, from a Canadian perspective? Do you think this is just as urgent as commemorating the War of 1812, which took place in southern Ontario?

12:30 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

I would rather not comment on the War of 1812, but I will say that conserving religious heritage is extremely important. This point has been raised, but I would rather not confuse the issue.

Most churches currently belong to and are managed by parish councils, or parishes and so forth. Most museums, on the other hand, are autonomous, private institutions that are already established, so to speak. The mission of churches is losing momentum at this time, which is where the problem lies. In my opinion, these are two relatively different things. We need to look at how communities can get involved to safeguard churches, because this is important.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Indeed, for the 150th anniversary, we need to ensure that all aspects of our history are being preserved.

Thank you.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Nantel.

Mr. Calandra.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Thank you.

Sorry, Mr. Landry, I hate to keep focusing on you. It's just because there are probably some parallels between your museum and mine.

In my community there are two small museums, the King Township Museum and the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum. The Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum is one that gets significant support from the local municipality. They have also recognized, though, the importance of doing other things at the museum, so part of their economic action plan initiative was to expand the museum, so they could host functions there and actually bring more of their collection out. One of the things they also talk about is the ability to actually work better and more closely with larger institutions.

I have a number of questions. In your context, how well does the municipality support the museum? Are there larger institutions you already partner with, as a small rural museum? What type of support do you get from larger institutions to actually display some of their collections, so you can actually bring more people into the museum?

12:35 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

In our case, we receive a good deal of financial support from our municipality. But some funny things have happened. These things may not fall within the scope of today's hearing, but I would like to mention them, because we are talking a lot about funding and these things relate to that.

I receive funding from the municipality of Rivière-du-Loup, and last year, I also managed to receive funding from the Rivière-du-Loup RCM. When the municipality found out that I had also obtained funding from the RCM, it cut back the amount it had planned to give to me by the same amount that it provides to the RCM. I am giving you this example simply to illustrate that this approach is not always productive.

At the SMQ, we are trying to work harder on these issues. We are currently working in partnership with Quebec's Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine to look at the various approaches we can take with respect to the municipalities. It might be a good idea to set some basic rules regarding the amount of funding that can be obtained from municipalities and so on.

As for your second question, I don't remember exactly what it pertained to.

Your other question was....

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Just with respect to—

12:35 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

—large museums. It can be difficult for us, because large museums do offer us travelling exhibitions, for instance, but the cost is often prohibitive and their exhibitions are often too big for our facilities. There is a willingness to develop cooperation and dialogue, but the reality is that it can be hard for us in that regard. It is not due to any unwillingness; it is simply the reality.

And this does not mean that large institutions do not have their own problems. The entire sector is under-funded at this time, so we are all in the same boat.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I have more of a comment than a question. I know, obviously, how important churches are, but it makes me somewhat nervous when we start talking about expanding and moving into other areas when you're talking about the current situation being a difficult one. I know how important churches are. I see them across my riding. But I'd have a really tough time imagining a church as a function of a museum. I can't imagine it would be less costly to make a church a museum than it would be just to provide additional resources for a rural museum.

I'm sure if you tabulated the entire ask of the organizations that you represent, it would be far beyond the scope of this government or any government to actually finance. Having said that, we've obviously opened the door to how museums and theatres get out there and raise money and raise awareness within the community. I think if we accomplish anything out of the 150th, somehow getting the rural museums to participate or cooperate with some of the larger institutions, both nationally and provincially, would be massive--whether it's through passports, as they're suggesting.... Even if we didn't provide a dime—and I'm not saying that's what we're going to do—if we figured out how to coordinate the rural and the large national museums with the large provincial museums, so that there was more funding to provide all of you and that more people think about it, then I think that would be one of the best lasting legacies of the 150th.

I don't know if I have time.