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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

11:55 a.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

Canadian Heritage already has a variety of programs, which, I believe, are available and open to all museums, and are relatively well known across Canada.

Some programs have to do with the production and circulation of travelling exhibitions, while others are for the production of virtual exhibitions. Another program, which unfortunately has been eliminated, assisted with the circulation and transportation of works of art from province to province.

Thanks to the Museums Assistance Program, or MAP, exhibitions can often be produced in small museums and then go on to be presented in our institutions and circulate throughout Canada afterwards. The idea behind the program is to show correlations between the various cultures that exist within the broader Canadian culture. These programs are very important.

Unfortunately, less money is being invested in the programs themselves, so it is harder for us to put together major projects.

Some programs have also been changed in recent years. Until very recently, the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Program, or CAHSP, allowed museums to review some of their practices related to marketing, human resources and management. The program had some very interesting features that gave us tools—for all institutions, whether small, medium or large—to review our practices, to work with professional firms in order to really make progress in our management practices, marketing strategies, and so on.

Unfortunately, this program was changed recently. It was not eliminated, per se, but it now applies more to groups of various partners, whether in museology or not. This means that the program is no longer directly accessible to museums. I find this somewhat unfortunate, because at our organization—and I am speaking only for my firm—it really allowed us to review some of our practices, to professionalize our domain, and so on. Museums definitely need these resources and this funding.

Several museums in Quebec—but not all—receive recurrent funding from Quebec's ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine. This funding is rarely enough to meet the needs of museums. These needs often push us to work on the ground to seek other sources of funding and this support from the federal government is very important to us. We must also remember that this support is often linked to a specific project. In other words, this funding is meant for managing a specific project and does not really trickle down to the rest of the museum the same way that recurrent funding does.

So, that is more or less the current reality and it would be unfortunate, in that sense, if funding for museums were to diminish, which is what is happening now, and if programs were eliminated or scaled back.

In that sense, the celebrations planned for 2017 would provide an excellent opportunity for this wave of resources and funding to really allow all of Canada's museums to get back to being on an even keel. As Mr. McAvity was saying, perhaps we could go even further and review some of our practices, which would allow us continue to navigate more comfortably, once we are back on an even keel. Our numerous institutions are important and useful to our communities. We have large collections. In a way, we are almost like the soul of this country, and I think we need to recognize the value of that.

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you.

You're 22 seconds over, so you're out of time. We'll move to the next person.

Just for the benefit of the witnesses here, our first round of questions is for seven minutes, and then we go into five-minute rounds. The chair has been pretty loose with the time today.

Ms. Murray. And welcome to the committee, by the way.

Noon

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for the information and the vision you're putting forward.

I'm interested in a few questions around the economic benefits, the possibilities of the 150th anniversary, and the museums' participation in that.

Do you see this as primarily something for Canadians? Will your marketing be to Canadians, or to what degree do you see this as being a possible way to improve our international tourist visit numbers? They have been declining over the years. We used to be number seven in international overnight stays, and we're now at number fifteen or something. Is your focus in Canada, or to what degree is it on the international community?

Museums are a huge part of the product the tourism industry depends on to generate tourism dollars and jobs. Somebody may have some thoughts on that. I'm wondering how the 20% cut to the Canadian Tourism Commission for marketing Canada might affect our ability to let people know about the 150th anniversary and all the amazing products you're envisioning presenting. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Noon

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

Let me jump in and then invite colleagues to respond.

Of all visitors who come to Canada, 60% visit museums. They really don't come here to visit our forests, the logging industry, or open-pit mines. They come to see the magic of what this country's all about. I think there's a tremendous opportunity for Canada in 2017 to use the Canadian experience and the Canadian story diplomatically on an international stage.

The Canadian Museums Association works with a couple of countries right now. Through foundations and non-governmental support we facilitate exchanges with China. We have a book program for rural communities, particularly in earthquake areas in China. So there are some really good things, and we've been able to tap philanthropists and donors to do this. I think there's a huge opportunity there. At one point culture was one of the three pillars of our foreign affairs policy, but it is not today. So we have an opportunity there.

I'll turn it over to my other colleagues. They may have more practical experience than I, because they actually work in museums and centres.

12:05 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

We have several initiatives for exploiting Canada to the world, which we need to do to increase our tourism numbers in all provinces and territories of the country. There is a new musical that we will develop. It will tour internationally. It will be of a calibre that other countries will want to see it and have it on their stages. The content will resonate with other countries, even though it will be about Canada. We believe that the new musical theatrical experience will entice other countries and visitors to Canada. That's one thing.

Just a few months ago, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery was launched in China. I think they quickly sold out their first 30,000 copies, which are not very many for China. We will keep building that momentum, and that will increase Chinese tourism to Canada.

We also intend to possibly tour Anne in other countries, other than the ones I've already mentioned where it has been. It is so easy these days with simulcast broadcasting to get the message out to other parts of the world. Canadian embassies around the world are dying for content about Canada to show to Canadians in their constituencies, or to the members of societies in countries they are looking after.

I think there are huge opportunities, because of these celebrations, to reach out to international communities.

Thanks.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

I just came from a tour of some of the constituencies in the interior of British Columbia, and one place I was at was the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, which is a museum and cultural centre that has a vineyard, a winery visitors centre, a conference centre, etc. It's a rising star in the aboriginal tourism world.

I'm very interested in understanding how the 150th and the museums' part in this can partner with aboriginal tourism and aboriginal peoples. We know that rural development and jobs in some of those remote communities is a huge priority for elevating the achievement of aboriginal communities. We have a big gap in aboriginal achievements. What are some thoughts about what might be needed, in terms of federal support, on the aboriginal side, but also on how you can help on the museum side?

12:05 p.m.

Vice-President of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Glenbow Museum, Canadian Museums Association

Kirstin Evenden

I can speak to that. Our museum has a lot of relationships in aboriginal communities, specifically in the Canadian west.

What's different from Expo '67 is that aboriginal communities have made huge significant inroads in being able to maintain and promote their own cultures to their own communities, and then to the world through aboriginal tourism initiatives, as you've mentioned.

I think the aboriginal communities are in a different place from where they were when we last celebrated Canada's national birthday to this scale. Aboriginal museums also have a lot of relationships with other existing museums with significant aboriginal collections like our own.

We've made permanent sacred loans. We're at about 250 permanent sacred loans of our collections in the communities. There are a lot of threads between museums with aboriginal collections, relationships, with independent aboriginal museums.

That's not to say that Canadian museums, like my own in Calgary, know what is best for aboriginal museums. This would, moving forward, be very much a partnership opportunity, an opportunity for two entities to come together to bring their expertise mutually together to do something that we couldn't do on our own.

Partnering between aboriginal communities, aboriginal museums, and museums with aboriginal collections is an ongoing responsibility that we have. But it's also a really significant opportunity to do something unique on the global radar, to get back to the question earlier of what we want to do globally.

This is a different conversation from what it was in 1967, in terms of our access to digital technology, our communication, and the fact that a lot of Canadians live in the world. There are over eight million out there. Connecting those two is the way to go.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Thanks.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Ms. Murray.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Do I have time still?

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

No. You're one minute and 12 seconds over.

Mr. Calandra.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'll just ask Ms. Inman and Monsieur Landry a question.

My riding has 228,000 people in it. My riding is obviously a lot bigger than Prince Edward Island, but there is a large rural component. It strikes me that P.E.I. is not the centre of corporate head offices. They probably have more head offices in my riding than there are in P.E.I.

How have you been successful in helping to raise money for your centre in the absence of what I'm assuming are large corporate donations? I know in my own community, in the rural parts of the community, we don't do a very good job of that. We can raise a lot of money for our local hospital very quickly, but we do a terrible job of explaining to people why they should support museums or theatres.

Monsieur Landry, you talked about representing a small rural museum, as well. What successes have you had?

In looking at this, I think that part of what we can do for the 150th is to bring all of the museums together in helping Canadians to better understand why they're important and why they should support museums as well as other institutions in the community.

12:10 p.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

Thank you very much.

Yes, we've been very successful with private sponsorship and private donors for the centre. We have a vast membership program that raises almost $1 million a year for our operating budget. And we put on special events. For example, two weeks ago I hosted an event called “Behind the Red Velvet”, which was an on-stage spectacular gala event. We had a live and silent auction and raised over $40,000 for our children's arts education programs.

We do a lot of events and raise money through those events. We go out into the community. We seek corporate sponsorships. We seek individual donations and sponsors. We have different levels of membership, whether it's the director's circle or the different circles of members.

One of the things my predecessor did so well was make sure that the Confederation Centre was an open place for Islanders to come to. It's not my place because I'm the CEO there; it's everyone's place, and I want it to feel like that for all of Canada. We will reach out corporately across the country as well to raise those funds.

I'd be happy to actually send you the materials we use for these fundraising campaigns. I know that you have three theatres in your jurisdiction, Mr. Calandra. I would be happy to actually send our marketing and fundraising collateral to you.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Landry.

12:10 p.m.

President, Société des musées québécois

Pierre Landry

As you were saying, I'm from a very small community. There are 20,000 people living in Rivière-du-Loup, 35,000 in the MRC de Rivière-du-Loup, so it is very small.

We have to work very hard to raise money just to maintain our mission as such. I would say that we can gather maybe 10% of our annual budget through these means, maybe more, because we have an annual event. Maybe it is a bit more. Maybe it is 15% or such. But the sum of work needed to do such a job

creates a situation that means that our staff is often obligated to neglect the institution's mission and focus on fundraising, which takes up an enormous amount of time. Where I am—and I am really only talking about my museum—we have an auction every year. Last week, we raised $32,000 in the community, but someone had to work on organizing the event for the equivalent of four or five months of full-time hours, and that does not include the other people from my team who work on the ground to find funding, a partner for an exhibition or other project, and so on. We are meeting this need, but it is often at the expense of our mission. Our needs are huge.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Do I have time for one more question, Mr. Chair?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

You do.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

I guess I would go back, then, to both Mr. Landry and Mr. McAvity.

I understand that some museums have a better ability to raise money than other museums and that it's difficult to do it because of the challenges small museums face. Is there a potential for the associations to coordinate fundraising efforts better and to use some of the larger institutions to help raise funds for the smaller institutions?

12:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

Yes, I think there is. I think we are witnessing right now a great increase in the museums' expertise in fundraising. Not long ago there was probably an attitude among museums that we should be 100% funded by the public. That attitude has gone through a remarkable change. Right now many of the big institutions have decreased their reliance on public sector funding from 80% or 90% down to often 30% to 40%. Ms. Evenden, from the Glenbow, can probably speak to that in a very direct way.

Frankly, I think the institutions are in a healthier spot. They have a diversity of sources of funds, so their eggs are not all in one basket. This is why we've been proposing as an incentive the matching donations program. In the charitable sector, we face very stiff competition, to be blunt with you. There are hospitals. The children's hospitals are very appealing.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Do they kind of compete against each other? It would probably be a lot easier for the Canadian War Museum to raise funds. The Museum of Civilization, the Museum of Nature, and the national museums probably have a much greater ability to raise funds than the Markham Museum or the Stouffville Museum, or even Mr. Landry's museums.

Is there not a better way of using the names and the recognition of those museums to raise funds globally that can then be distributed, at least until everybody comes up with better plans to actually raise funds and help in offsetting? Are you not kind of competing against each other for very limited resources right now, because people don't look to museums first as something they would want to support?

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 Conservative 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.

April 3rd, 2012 / 12:15 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash NDP 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 NDP 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?