When I began to manage the Canada Council, it had approximately 147 programs. They were in fact a series of programs that allowed the council to meet needs in theatre, dance, the visual arts and literature. Each one of those disciplines had its own programs and subprograms. The system was extremely complex. Although the purpose of those programs was to increase the quantity of literature or theatre, it was particularly difficult to assess what impact they had on Canadians as a whole, and how they structured the cultural milieu.
We applied considerable effort to determining what those programs had in common. We realized that we could group all of these programs into six broad ones. For example, one program covers the entire international sphere. All artistic disciplines, whatever they may be, generally have an international component. Another program involves outreach in Canada. There is also one for aboriginal arts. Previously, support for aboriginal art was divided among the 147 programs. It was very difficult to establish a strategy. We also created three other programs. One of them will cover all innovation and creation in the future. Another program will support existing organizations that in a way represent the legacy of the past 60 years. Finally, there is a program that supports new artistic practice models.
By having far fewer programs we will be able to redesign them with reference to common objectives, with the help of concrete measures. We will also be able to compare the merit of the submissions we receive, no matter whom they come from and which artistic discipline they involve.
When we had to work with over 140 programs, things were very complicated. A few months ago we designed and launched a portal that allows any artist or aspiring artist to create a profile, somewhat like on Facebook, and allows them to see which programs they can apply for. People can describe their art and can automatically see whether they are eligible for any program within the Canada Council.
The objective is to simplify access, but also to allow us to measure the impact of our investment. Throughout the world people try to measure the quantitative and qualitative effects of public investments in arts and culture. The redesign of our programs allowed us to integrate those concerns into the architecture of our programs.
The fact that the council's budget was doubled allowed us to go further, that is to say not only to properly finance those programs, but also to create an extremely important strategic fund. Its purpose is to help the arts sector make a true transition to digital. Last week, there was broad media coverage of a summit in Montreal whose objective was to determine what the arts environment needs to adapt to the digital world and to be able to benefit from it rather than being its victim.
That is the reorganization we have carried out. Among other things, we had to organize teams and juries so that we can function in a much simpler way, and so that ordinary mortals may also understand things more easily.