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

11:10 a.m.


The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

We'll get started.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage is meeting today on our study of Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. I'm very pleased to have a great panel of witnesses with us here today.

Welcome to all of our witnesses.

From the Canadian Museums Association, we have John McAvity, executive director; Kirstin Evenden, vice-president of the board and president and chief executive officer of the Glenbow Museum; and Benoît Légaré, board member and director.

From the Confederation Centre of the Arts, we have Jessie Inman, chief executive officer.

From the Société des musées québécois, we have Pierre Landry, president.

Again, welcome to all of you.

The way we proceed is that you'll all be given some time to make your opening presentation. Usually it's ten minutes, but we can be a little bit flexible today. Then we will have an opportunity for our members to ask some questions of you.

With that, I will turn it over to John McAvity from the Canadian Museums Association.

11:10 a.m.

John McAvity Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

We are very happy to be here.

I am here with my colleague, Kirstin Evenden, president of the Glenbow Museum, and Benoît Légaré from Montréal. He was the director of the Montreal Science Centre and before that he was the secretary general of the Musées de Strasbourg.

The Canadian Museums Association is the national organization for museums. We represent approximately 2,000 museums, ranging from small community museums, often volunteer-run, to large metropolitan galleries.

It's very important to mention to you how popular these institutions are. They receive about 60 million visits per year. They're extraordinarily important, not just to our tourism industry but also to the fabric of our community as educational centres, as meeting spots, as places of tolerance, and as places of respect for civilized society.

At the very beginning we'd like to point out how very pleased we were with the federal budget last week. I want to do that because the federal budget last week clearly showed the value and importance of museums that Canada and Canadians place in these institutions. We are thankful for this vote of confidence. In particular, we're very pleased to see a significant increase to the travelling exhibitions indemnification program.

We want to thank all members on both sides of this table. We've met with you. We've appreciated your support on this and we look forward to continuing that relationship.

There are, however, two specific recommendations from the federal budget that we would like to present very quickly to you.

First, we're pleased to see an increase in youth employment. In particular, we'd like to see a little bit of that money trickle down to our Young Canada Works program in museums. It's a very valuable program, which has been seriously oversubscribed. We have to turn down 50% of employers applying for jobs, and we have to turn down 90% of applicants seeking internships in museums and galleries in Canada.

Second, there was a recommendation that we've made before to the finance committee, and possibly to you, and that is an innovative way to get Canadians more involved in their heritage. This is by developing greater philanthropy and private support—a diversity of funding for our sector. We're proposing a matching donations program called “Canadians Supporting Their Heritage Fund”, which would help stabilize museum funding and encourage greater long-term self-reliance. We also believe this could be a very appropriate legacy project in the context of the study you're undertaking.

Now I'd like to invite Kirstin Evenden to speak more about 2017.

11:10 a.m.

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

Thank you, John.

Thank you very much.

Prior to this consultation about events celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, the CMA and its board of directors organized a series of consultations for members and museum directors across Canada. The process is ongoing, and some excellent ideas and suggestions have come out of the consultations. We want to share those ideas with you today.

Today, I would like to share three major recommendations drawn from all of the ideas our members have put forward. Then my colleague Benoît Légaré will present more detailed programming suggestions.

Firstly, in 1967 Canada celebrated its centennial year in a really comprehensive manner, from Expo '67 in Montreal to small community projects. Virtually every community participated in a way, and we saw the emergence of hundreds of new museums in our cities and small towns. Major new buildings were opened across the country, such as the Nova Scotia Museum, the Ontario Science Centre, the Manitoba Museum, and more. Small community museums were also built as legacy gifts.

The impact of what happened in 1967 should not be underestimated. It is still felt today by our children and by our grandchildren. So this is really an opportunity for us to consider the role of culture broadly in our way of life in Canada and what it can do for our country in the future.

For 2017 we do not recommend large-scale capital projects of the magnitude we saw in 1967. Given the economic climate, we believe it's just not appropriate to create new museums. However, many existing museum buildings built during that time and beyond require upgrades and expansions. Collections care is an ongoing issue from an infrastructure point of view. Some collections are housed in facilities inapppropriate to properly caring for these national treasures for the future. Our facilities need upgrading so that we can welcome our visitors in a way they have become accustomed to being welcomed throughout the world at other museums.

These issues and areas of expansion and consideration are things we should look at, if any capital funds are available to these institutions.

Secondly, we recommend the establishment of a formal multi-year grants program to begin the development and implementation of the celebratory projects as soon as possible. Additional funding from the private sector should and will be sought. Some projects can be fully funded from private sources, while others require federal investments. A multi-year grant program will ensure that the tight timelines are met and will take into consideration the ancillary anniversaries leading up to the 150th anniversary of Canada.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has already outlined a number of these special opportunities to you, in his appearance here on October 20, 2011.

Thirdly, we would like to propose that we ensure these celebrations are inclusive for all Canadians, with special recognition given to our Canadian diversity and our aboriginal roots as a country. Museums should, with a presentation of artifacts and of our intangible cultural heritage, celebrate the people, the stories, the songs, the traditions, the ideas that continue to shape this country. These celebrations, these moments to come together, are about looking back, but they are about looking back so that we can move forward, continuing to innovate and to build Canada's cultural and heritage sector.

A legacy project like the matching donations program that John mentioned would help make that possible and would help bring buy-in to these activities across all sectors, private and public.

We would like to applaud you for this early start on the planning process at this level. We want to ensure that the results as a result of this planning process are significant and meaningful to all Canadians and all Canadians who follow us in the future.


11:15 a.m.

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

Thank you, Kirstin.

Good morning, everyone.

We have received a great number of programming concepts around the 150th anniversary from members and directors, some of which we would like to share with you today. These ideas can be grouped into overarching approaches: projects of national scope, which are implemented on a collective basis, and projects that each museum and gallery would undertake on their own in collaboration with others in their area.

Partnerships and collaboration are key to the success of all major events. For the 150th anniversary, collaboration should go beyond museums to include partnerships with crown corporations, the private sector, and existing organizations and major events, such as the Canada Day celebrations here in Ottawa and in London, England.

With respect to projects of national scope, we would like to highlight the following five initiatives, which we recommend.

The first is to offer free admission to museums for a certain period, a gift to all Canadians. Many museums already offer free admission on July 1, but for 2017, we suggest extending that from National Aboriginal Day on June 21 to July 1, a period that includes Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Funding will be needed to offset the loss of revenue because that is a busy time for museums. It is the end of the school year and lots of school groups visit museums around that time.

The second idea is to create a Canadian heritage passport that would encourage people to visit the country’s museums, galleries and historic sites, and have their passport stamped at each location. The passport program would include a national ad campaign and prizes for participation.

The third idea is a national marketing campaign to promote various museum activities across the country and to raise awareness of the importance and value of our history and culture. That being said, regardless of which 150th anniversary initiatives are undertaken, I think that a large-scale campaign will be needed to coordinate major initiatives.

The fourth idea is to create major exhibits. This could mean major exhibits in larger museums or travelling exhibits that criss-cross the country by train, like the centennial train in 1967. Obviously the virtual aspect is part of it and can be developed along with strategies that constitute a nod to the past. I think that we should really focus on virtual strategies to encourage people to participate. There could be a virtual exhibit with images, archives and key artifacts from each museum, all tied together as part of the 150th anniversary, or a multimedia exhibit in partnership with CBC/Radio-Canada for example and other national media outlets to broadcast a program about 150 artifacts and artworks that define Canada.

The fifth and final idea is a national recognition program. The first element would be the creation of a medal to honour 150 museum volunteers across the country together with our colleagues from provincial and territorial associations. The second element would be the creation of a national museum of the year, art gallery of the year or science centre of the year award that members of the public can vote on, like the VotemyFundy campaign to designate the Bay of Fundy as a wonder of nature.

At local and provincial levels, suggestions include encouraging and supporting museums seeking to develop and present special exhibits that celebrate the history of their communities, such as with 150 objects, as well as offering behind-the-scenes tours so that people can see how museums work, outreach activities where museums take exhibits and programs to places like hospitals, care homes, schools, airports, tourism offices and so on.

Finally, at a professional level, the 150th anniversary represents a good opportunity for the heritage sector to invest in its future. The idea of investing in research and development, in establishing special fellowships and professional exchanges, and in exploring innovations in cross-sector partnerships and national forums will all build the museum of tomorrow and ensure the long-term sustainability of our cultural institutions.

As you can see, many good ideas are coming forward to showcase our rich heritage and culture in 2017 and throughout the many events leading up to it. The CMA is prepared to take the lead in sponsoring and managing many of these, working in partnership with our colleagues from the heritage sector.

Thank you very much. We are ready to answer your questions.

11:20 a.m.


The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you to the CMA. Thank you for your testimony.

Now we will move to the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Jessie Inman.

April 3rd, 2012 / 11:20 a.m.

Jessie Inman Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Hello ladies and gentlemen. I am very happy to be here today.

I would like to thank this important committee for inviting me here today to talk about the 150th anniversary of our great country, and also to thank the committee for your proactive approach and early consideration for what will undoubtedly be a celebration to excite all Canadians and astound the world.

As a living memorial to the Fathers of Confederation built at the birthplace of our great nation, the Confederation Centre of the Arts pays a lively tribute to Canada's founding and ongoing development as a nation. Our representation is reflective of the achievements that began with the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, and encompass the evolution of each and every Canadian province and territory.

The dream of an architecturally stunning national arts centre located in the highly sought out national and international tourist destination came to fruition in 1964. Located in Prince Edward Island, the Confederation Centre of the Arts is a multi-functional professional arts facility.

Recognized internationally for its contributions to Canada's performing arts, the centre offers four theatre facilities that can house up to 2,500 people. The centre is also home to the Confederation Centre art gallery, with 35,000 square feet of space and a permanent art collection of over 16,000 works of art.

As a whole, the centre offers countless programs for art education and training of children and youth, including a new school for the performing arts. Volunteerism through the Friends of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, and extended through the staff in our daily practice, is our way of life.

The centre also operates a gift shop and a restaurant and services large conventions and banquets. Annually 250,000 people of all ages participate in the centre's programming.

The centre is home to the Charlottetown Festival and Canada's longest running musical, Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, which has drawn millions of visitors from around the world to P.E.I. We have toured Anne extensively across Canada, the U.S.A., England, Germany, and Japan.

The festival, which opened in 1965, has produced over 70 original theatre productions and employs actors, dancers, musicians, and artistic creators and directors from across the country.

Today the centre is governed by a national board of directors representing almost every Canadian province and territory. It is committed, through heritage and the arts, to engage and empower the imagination of our youth and their unique ability to learn; to honour and build on the vision of the founders of Canada; to strengthen our national identity; and to increase the culture and economic wealth of all Canadians. All of this culminates in a vibrant facility serving Canadian and international communities, while stimulating minds and enriching lives.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts has been a cultural leader in many of the celebrations that have taken place in Canada and abroad over the past 48 years. The first was the opening of the centre itself in 1964, a grand affair drawing international attention and a royal delegation. With funds raised from the provinces and matched by Prime Minister Diefenbaker, the centre was opened in October by Her Royal Majesty, the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, with premiers and VIPs present from all provinces, and the Prime Minister of the day, Lester B. Pearson, who stated that:

[The Fathers of Confederation Memorial Building] is a tribute to those famous men who founded our Confederation. But it is also dedicated to the fostering of those things that enrich the mind and delight the heart, those intangible but precious things that give meaning to a society and help create from it a civilization and a culture.

In 2004 the centre celebrated its 40th anniversary as Canada's national memorial to the founding. The Charlottetown Festival was a major component of the 40th anniversary celebrations. One of the highlights in July of that year was a tribute to all of the stars who were on our stages and in our galleries, including the late Norman Campbell, one of the co-creators of Anne of Green Gables—The Musical.

The same year, the centre initiated an exciting new heritage program, the Symons Medal and Lecture Series. This annual lecture features prominent Canadians focusing on national issues such as politics, business, arts and culture, and heritage.

The National Vision Committee seeks to expand Canadians' understanding of the centre's national purpose and significance and to strengthen its capacity to contribute further to the Canadian community and Canadian unity.

In 2007 our youth chorus performed in front of thousands of war veterans, dignitaries, and international media in France at the official dedication of the restored Canadian national memorial at Vimy Ridge. They have been invited to participate again in the 100th anniversary ceremonies of the battle of Vimy Ridge in 2017.

In 2008 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the publishing of the novel Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Everyone went behind the scenes of the beloved musical, to meet with the cast and crew and to hear a free orchestra presentation of the musical score of Anne.

In 2010 the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver showcased Canadian heritage, Canadian achievements, Canadian belonging, and Canadian pride, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of that amazing event. As the secretariat for what the media called the “gold medal cultural pavilion”, the centre helped to lead the events management, marketing and communications, staffing and programming that helped to present Canada to the world. Hundreds of Canadian artists and artisans were featured. The centre presented on an international stage, participating in a cultural Olympiad, which was broadcast live to 30 million viewers worldwide.

In 2011, as part of the Cultural Capitals of Canada partnership, our Confederation Centre Young Company was thrilled to present the first ever all-first-nations cast at the Charlottetown Festival, The Talking Stick, written by first nations playwright Cathy Elliott.

The success of these past celebrations has some common themes; that is, the compulsion of community engagement at the grassroots level, recognition and celebration of our founders and their bold imaginations, and thinking beyond our borders, whether those borders be provincial or national or simply beyond the borders of our imagination.

The path to 2017: Contributing to the branding of Canada as an arts nation, both on the national and international scene, is interwoven through everything we seek to achieve for this very important celebration. This is our opportunity to give substantially to each other things that enrich the mind and delight the heart, those intangible but precious things that give meaning to a society and help create from it a civilization and a culture. Our vision for 2017 is a grassroots movement that inspires every Canadian by honouring our past, celebrating the present, and planning for the bold future of Canada's artistic and cultural offerings.

In 2014 the centre will be celebrating its own 50th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Fathers of Confederation at the Charlottetown Conference. Plans are under way to mark these momentous occasions and encompass all of Canada in the celebrations. Such plans are precursors to Canada's 150th birthday in 2017, and I expect they will include a new theatre pavilion, meeting national building and safety codes; the creation and production and tour of the next great Canadian musical; a national commemorative sculpture erected on the centre's plaza; enhanced presentation of CANADA ROCKS! , the hit musical revue featuring well-known Canadian performers; the expansion of the Symons Medal and Lecture Series to involve multiple Canadian leaders; a book and a television documentary highlighting the many outstanding activities carried out by the centre; and the presentation of the Confederation Players, a group of students who portray the Fathers of Confederation present during the 1864 conference. Several of these projects will come to fruition in 2014, with the objective of living on through to 2017. Others will just gain momentum in 2014, with plans to launch them during the sesquicentennial.

The 150th birthday of Canada needs to focus not only on the history of one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved countries and the contributions of iconic Canadians, but also the future of the country as a nation the world looks to as a model. A theme might be “from there to here, moving forward to a bold new future”. The wonderful imaginative logo created by the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Foundation, as shown to us by Doug Knight at the Arts Summit in Banff this past weekend, should be made available as soon as possible to all Canadians so they can use it everywhere in their daily lives.

In a country that was built by the railroad, galvanized by the national highway, and now instantly linked by the information highway, the Canada of the future looks forward to new trails and inroads blazed by collaborative innovations in arts, culture, and science. For me, this logo represents all of that and more.

The possibilities and approaches to engage Canadians are vast and almost endless. Campaigns and outreach initiatives should be multi-tiered and should take place at the grassroots level and at regional, provincial, and federal levels. When history is expressed through artistic interpretation, learning becomes a pleasure. At the centre we express ourselves through the visual and performing arts. We are considering a number of theatre projects, which we are convinced all Canadians and visitors will enjoy. Among the projects being considered for 2017 are 1864: The Musical, an inventive take on the founding of Canada populated by characters like Sir John A. Macdonald and D’Arcy McGee; Remember to Keep Dancing, a tribute to innovative Canadian choreographer, director, and theatre pioneer Alan Lund; and We Are Canadian!, an extension of the series of plays written for the Confederation Centre Young Company, which celebrates the lives and cultures of all Canadians.

The Confederation Centre has undertaken a legacy project that will not only will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada, but will distinguish Canada as a world leader in art, music, and technology. Our project is “The Next Great Canadian Musical”, a theatrical event that promises to redefine live performance in our country and around the world. It will challenge our citizens to cooperate for a productive, healthy, socially and culturally integrated future, and will honour the abundance of our natural resources. We are partnering with established playwrights, poets, musicians, technicians, choreographers, and designers to construct an original theatrical context.

We are also in the early stages of developing a major visual arts exhibition concerning architectural projects that were prepared as part of Canada's program of centennial celebrations during the 1960s. As you are all aware, projects commemorating the 1967 centennial of Confederation were sponsored by all levels of government. Despite their role as markers, these projects were not nostalgic, but rather expressed Canada's desire to be understood as a modern, progressive, forward-looking nation entering its second century. As such, they constitute an important documentary record of the national identity, values, and aspirations of the day.

Since the Confederation Centre of the Arts was the first federal centennial project to be completed, in 1964, this exhibit would help celebrate our 50th in 2014, tour nationally between 2014 and 2017, and finally culminate in an exhibition at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, which was the final federal centennial project to be completed, in 1969.

In addition to plans in place at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, there are many initiatives that can take place on a national level.

A live concert simulcast could take place from five major Canadian cities, from the steps of Parliament in Ottawa to the steps of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, and every capital city in the country. We should include Canadian embassies around the globe; there are 2.8 million Canadians living outside of Canada. The concert could showcase the best in Canadian talent, telling the story of Canada to date as well as visions of the Canada of tomorrow.

Educational programs could be built into school curricula to give an innovative, fresh perspective on the history of Canada, and to reinforce learning and critical thinking as part of our culture. Students of all ages could participate in an essay contest on why it's great to be a Canadian. The contest could be run across the country, with the winner reciting their essay on the steps of Province House in P.E.I. during a national broadcast.

Totem poles could be commissioned in each province, telling the history of their region. Time-lapse videos could be produced and broadcast. A possible partner might be Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

New Canadians, part of our proud multicultural society, could be celebrated across the country with a synchronized swearing-in ceremony. This might be a live webcast or TV broadcast. We would be happy to host it on our plaza.

Canada Day celebrations might include a national drum circle, with artists representing Canadian cultures on our plaza, each representing a different Canadian culture, whether that be Celtic, aboriginal, classic, or ethnic.

Vignettes could be produced with children telling stories that have been passed through their families dating back to the generations from the time of Confederation. The videos could be made available for all Canadians.

Volunteers from local communities will participate, as will not-for-profits and the public and private sectors across the country.

The Confederation Centre of the Arts is a national institution and is ideally suited to host activities for the 150th. Situated in the cradle of Confederation, it is not only Canada's only national memorial to the founding of the nation, it is a well-oiled machine teeming with talent and ability. We are ready to be a major participant in the 2017 celebrations. We have the experience. As host to millions of visitors for the past 48 years, we know how to host a party, whether it be in Charlottetown, another place in Canada, or any place in the world.

I sincerely thank each and every one of you for providing me with this opportunity to join you in this dialogue about how we might celebrate Canada's 150th birthday; how all Canadians can give Canada many gifts; how birthday parties in communities across the nation will take place and set us on a path that unites us, celebrates our unique heritage and culture, and our prominent position on the world stage; and how blessed we are, as we enter our next 150 years, to create a future that is innovative, transformative, stimulating, and above all, one that is Canadian.

Thank you very much.

11:35 a.m.


The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you for your presentation.

Now, finally, we'll go to Pierre Landry, from the Société des musées québécois.

11:35 a.m.

Pierre Landry President, Société des musées québécois

I first want to thank the committee for hosting us.

I'm Pierre Landry, president of the Société des musées québécois. I'm also general director of the Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent à Rivière-du-Loup, a small institution. So my way of seeing things comes from both being president of the SMQ, and from being the head of a small museum in Rivière-du-loup, Quebec. I'd like to say that the positions of the SMQ are quite consistent with those of the CMA, as we work in the same area.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin by sincerely thanking the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for inviting me here today as president of the SMQ to participate in the committee’s study of Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

The Société des musées québécois is made up of 300 museums from all over Quebec. It goes without saying that the representative of this huge network is an important stakeholder in matters concerning the many facets of our culture and heritage.

Celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Confederation in 1967 involved major infrastructure investments in Quebec and Canada, including in the cultural sector. Countless cultural centres, libraries, theatres, museums and concert halls were built to mark the centennial in a lasting and meaningful way.

However, because this is a 150th anniversary, not a centennial, and given the precarious state of public finances, I feel that the celebrations we are discussing today should be more modest. That being said, we still believe that the event should be celebrated with flair and that we should come together to express our attachment to our values and history. We think that it would be wise to ensure that a significant portion of the moneys allocated to this celebration have a lasting and significant impact on our institutions, as was the case in 1967.

Canada as a whole and Quebec in particular have hundreds and hundreds of museums whose mission is to promote culture and heritage. Whether these institutions enjoy significant funding and professional management or whether they survive thanks to the hard work of volunteers, passion and diligence are both key to their success. These museums, interpretive centres, historic sites and heritage sites are the foundation of our collective memory. They protect and promote it. People who work in these institutions protect the most precious and delicate parts of our culture while sharing knowledge and information. With deep roots in our communities, these institutions play a major role in creating a sense of belonging and promoting social integration. Moreover, each of these institutions boasts impressive expertise in heritage interpretation, exhibit creation and activities that combine play and learning.

Yet many of these institutions are having a hard time making ends meet. Either funding from various levels of government has not risen with inflation over the past few years—it was not necessarily decreased—or a number of programs have been changed or eliminated, or the private sector is not involved enough. Museums in Quebec and Canada are desperately short of funds. As a result, people are being laid off, and those who still have jobs are working longer, tougher hours. Collections and heritage buildings are deteriorating, exciting programs will never see the light of day, museum professionals are getting discouraged, and there are no new professionals coming on stream.

Canada's 150th anniversary could provide a unique opportunity to change that. Commemorative events could be combined with major investments to strengthen Canada’s museum network, the flagship of our culture and heritage and guardian of our memories and communities. Combined with a sense of celebration, new funding could support research, provide financial support for exhibits or special activities related to various elements of Canada’s history and culture, or pay for renovations and updates. Moneys allocated to museums would benefit the network and strengthen it. As was the case following Canada’s centennial celebrations, the 150th anniversary celebrations could give people a better sense of our country, put them in a festive mood and place an entire segment of the knowledge, research and conservation industry on firmer footing so that it can contemplate a better future.

We also have to keep in mind the fact that there are many perspectives on Canada’s history, which is what makes it so rich. First nations people interpret our history in a much different way than newcomers, explorers and adventurers told it. Acadians, Quebeckers and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador did not experience history in the same way as the Loyalists who populated Ontario or the Metis in Canada’s West.

To reflect certain elements of that history, we think it is important to emphasize that the content should be up to the institutions that are authorized to submit proposals should there be a call for proposals and that funds should be awarded based on merit as determined by peer committees without political interference. We think that this is essential to ensuring the integrity of our institutions, the plurality of voices, free will and a critical eye, which are all values that we believe underpin any democracy.

Mr. Minister, ladies and gentlemen of the House of Commons, thank you once again for giving the Société des musées québécois an opportunity to speak here today.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

11:45 a.m.


The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Landry.

Thank you all for your presentations. There were some very specific recommendations in there, and those will give our committee plenty to consider as we work towards our recommendations in this regard.

Now we'll begin our question and answer time. First up is Mr. Young.

11:45 a.m.


Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Welcome, everyone. Thank you very much for coming today. We've had some really excellent and very interesting presentations.

I wanted to ask Mr. McAvity—is that how you pronounce your name?

11:45 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

That's close, and I've been called worse, let me tell you. It's “Ma-ca-vit-y”.

11:45 a.m.


Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you for coming.

As you may be aware, the government introduced certainly the thickest budget and probably the biggest and longest budget in decades just last week. There's so much in it that a lot of it gets missed in the media. I guess they will cover a lot of it in the coming weeks.

One of the things that has been missed generally is this indemnification program for museums and galleries, etc. It's the kind of thing that sounds pretty dry, but I understand it's very important to what you do in museums and galleries. I wonder if you wouldn't mind explaining to the committee what the program allows you to do, what it does, how it works, and also how much money it might save you if you in fact had to buy insurance for everything you did. What does it allow you to do with works and with having them travelling between institutions, etc.?

11:45 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

The program was established in 1999, I believe...or was it 1996? It has been a tremendous success. If anything, the problem it's had has been its own success.

Artworks have become more valuable. What it does is allow museums to get protection, not for the entire exhibition, but for most of the value of it.

Last week Mr. Flaherty raised that from $400 million to $600 million of coverage. The total that will be indemnified when all the regulations and amendments to the legislation have been put in place will be $3 billion per year. That sounds like a lot of money, but in the world of big art, of works by Van Gogh and Picasso, it isn't really that much.

This is actually tremendous news for Canadians. Canadians will have the opportunity, because of this program and the increase in it, to see works of art that they would just not normally have the opportunity to see. So it's a great news opportunity.

So far this program has really cost the Government of Canada nothing more than two, I believe, or three person-years to administer it. There has never been a claim on the program. In part that's because of the high standards the museums are able to maintain. It's imperative that those high standards stay there, because we don't want to see a big claim.

The program has been a great success. It doesn't really save the museums operating money, because these major exhibitions are financed through corporate sponsorship, through higher ticket prices, and so on, but it will effectively allow them to do more exhibitions and to bring them in.

It also gives the seal of approval of the Government of Canada to these activities, so it makes it easier to get loans from international collectors or museums. These are all very positive things. We were very pleased with the improvement to the program announced last week.

11:45 a.m.


Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Thank you very much.

Madam Inman, the first time I went to the Charlottetown Festival at the Confederation Centre of the Arts was 1971. My brother was 16 years old, playing the lead in the musical Joey. We drove down east to Charlottetown to see the show. It was an unforgettable experience. It's an island paradise.

I wanted to ask you about what you are going to be doing. Your presentation was fascinating. It was full of really good ideas. There were so many I'm going to have to reread it. Thank you for that.

Specifically, what are you going to do to attract Canadians to visit the island leading up to 2017? Is it any or all of what you are describing? With regard to young Canadians, there are two things they should do for sure. One is to visit the Rocky Mountains. The other is to visit P.E.I. and our other great cities.

Leading up to 2017, what are you planning to do to attract more Canadians to P.E.I. and the Confederation Centre of the Arts?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

Thank you for the compliments to our beautiful province. I'm very glad that you have been there.

Leading up to 2014, we have plans under way to attract attention to the new musical we are going to develop about Canada's abundant natural resources. We're going to cooperate with playwrights, composers, orchestrators, and artistic people from right across the country. We plan to tour that nationally between 2014 and 2017. It will start in Charlottetown in 2014, and then tour nationally so that it's available to all Canadians, not just those who visit Prince Edward Island. That's one way we're going to engage them. There will also be an educational package. We're going to take it into the schools across the country. It will not just talk about the musical itself, but the heritage of our great country and what we want to do with it. That is the content of the musical too. That's one way we are going to attract people.

Our Symons Lecture Series will be broadcast nationally and internationally over the next few years. By 2017 it will be global. We're intending for that to be part of the celebrations in 2017. There is no reason why we can't do simulcast broadcasts around the world these days with the Internet. The possibilities are endless. We'll have other campaigns that we do ourselves or with the provincial tourism department or Canadian Heritage. Canadian Heritage has been extremely supportive of the Confederation Centre of the Arts over the years. We believe they will continue to be. That helps us to get our message out to all Canadians.

I feel we have lots of work to do. There are many Canadians who are not aware of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, and that it is the only national memorial to the founding of the nation. I have great plans for an educational program over the coming months and years.

11:50 a.m.


Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

The theatre at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, when I was there, was still fairly new. It's now, what, 44 years old?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

It's 48 years old.

11:50 a.m.


Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

You have planned some fairly extensive renovations of the theatre. Could you talk a little about that and its importance?

11:50 a.m.

Chief Executive Officer, Confederation Centre of the Arts

Jessie Inman

The theatre will soon be 50 years old. It was opened in 1964. It has never been touched. It has the original seating. We have tried to maintain it to keep it safe, but it does not meet current national building and safety codes. We're looking to put in a new theatre pavilion inside the same four walls—not a new building but a new inside. We would like to have that open for the 2014 celebrations. We have an extensive plan for doing it, which includes funding from Canadian Heritage, ACOA, and the province. The province has already committed. ACOA has almost committed. Our application is being reviewed by Canadian Heritage. We feel quite positive about their views on it.

11:50 a.m.


The Chair Conservative Rob Moore

Thank you, Mr. Young.

Madame Boutin-Sweet.

11:50 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Thank you , ladies and gentlemen. Your presence here today is very important.

We are studying Canada’s 150th anniversary, but we will also devote several meetings to museums and their financial health. We will be hearing from museum representatives.

My first question is for Mr. McAvity, of the Canadian Museums Association.

Do you think that the federal government should adopt a national museums policy to ensure the health of our museums? If it does, what should it include?

11:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

Actually, there is a museum policy right now, but in our opinion it needs to be updated very significantly.

I'll give you just a little bit of history.

In 1972 the first national museum policy was brought in when the Honourable Gérard Pelletier was the Secretary of State, and then the Honourable Marcel Masse in the Mulroney government updated and renewed and expanded the policy. However, over the last few years there has been some erosion in funding and generally in the effectiveness of the policy.

I'm going to seize upon some of the words that Pierre Landry used. He talked about 2017 as an opportunity to “right the ship”, and this would be one of the areas we believe need to be reviewed and investigated and one for which a more comprehensive policy needs to be developed.

Right now, frankly, we're just pleased to hold on to what we have in terms of funding, and in fact to see some improvements that have come out of the federal budget. So I think we've actually done quite well in the federal budget, but as we look forward there are still many unanswered questions. There are the needs Ms. Evenden referred to in terms of collections, and the proper preservation and facilities that need to be built upon, and these do need serious attention.

11:55 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

So if we were to consult you, you would have a number of suggestions for ways to improve the policy in specific areas.

11:55 a.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Museums Association

John McAvity

Yes, we would be delighted to be consulted on that.

11:55 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Thank you. I think it is really wonderful that your two groups are here. We aren’t having many meetings about this, but you represent several museums, both large and small.

I was once a guide-interpreter at the Pointe-à-Callière museum, which is a medium-sized museum. Even though it’s a good-sized museum, it always has a hard time finding funding. When I was there, guide-interpreter jobs were always being cut, which meant fewer services to the public. That was always the first thing to go.

You talked about stable funding for museums. The Canadian Museums Association suggested the creation of a fund-matching program.

Mr. Landry, if a new museums policy or a fund-matching program is created, what can we do to help museums of all sizes? How can we make sure that small museums survive too?