ABOUT OUR ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
The Canadian League of Composers has adopted an advocacy strategy that communicates the value of the work of composers, classical music and the arts in Canada to key stakeholders in the music community and to the public, both nationally and regionally, through press releases on topical issues, media campaigns, and by advocating CLC commissioning rates for composers to funders of new music. The CLC is a member of the Canadian Arts Coalition (CAC) and is affiliated with the Creator’s Copyright Coalition(CCC) and the Creator’s Rights Alliance.
Past campaigns have responded to CBC Radio’s “repositioning” to broadcast and record far less classical and contemporary music, and its termination of the CBC Radio Orchestra. Other campaigns have brought attention to the Department of Canadian Heritage’s decision to reallocate funding away from the Specialized Music Recording Program which had been administered by The Canada Council. Although both campaigns did not reverse decisions which adversely affected our members’ livelihoods and art, there were positive effects from the campaigns. For example, CBC made decisions which suggest that the campaign of the “Stand on Guard for CBC” coalition (in which the CLC was active) helped to stave off deeper programming cuts, improve representation of contemporary music on their new classical programs, reverse proposed commissioning cuts, and to launch Evolution, a new version of the defunct Young Composers’ Competition. Through these advocacy campaigns, we learn first-hand the challenges facing composers in promoting their music to Canadians. Our challenge is to define ourselves positively, and to tell the public about the diversity and achievements of our art and artists.
ONGOING ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
Day on the Hill
On November 4, 2010, the Canadian League of Composers participated in the Canadian Arts Coalition’s (CAC) Day on the Hill. CLC Vice-President Brian Current spoke on behalf of the CLC and its members in meetings with three Conservative MPs from Ontario, to advocate for two CAC initiatives:
1. Increased funding to the Canada Council for the Arts;
2. The reinstatement of a Foreign Affairs program that will help arts groups tour abroad.
These meetings enabled working and practicing artists to explain to MPs the financial difficulties attached to work in the arts, while conveying the important role of the government in sustaining, enlivening and supporting the arts in Canada. Over 100 meetings took place with MPs during the Day on the Hill. The Day on the Hill initiative will be held again in coming years, and the CLC looks forward to its future participation in this endeavour.
In October of 2010, President James Rolfe met with Aimé Dontigny of The Canada Council for the Arts’ Music Section to discuss current funding challenges facing composers. The meeting was successful in conveying to the Canada Council composers’ concerns about low success rates in their Commissioning program, and the need to increase the CLC’s suggested commissioning rates over the coming years.
Meeting between the CLC and the CALQ
On June 16, 2010, the Canadian League of Composers met with the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec to discuss various topics concerning composers. The CLC was represented by Brian Current (Vice-President of the National Council), Analia Llugdar (member of the National Council) and Maxime McKinley (member of the National Council). The CALQ was represented by Stéphan La Roche (Director of Music, Dance and Territorial Action), Stéphane Roy (Program Manager, Artists’ Grants, Music and Dance) and Denise Denis (Program Manager, Artists’ Grants, Music and Dance).
For the CLC, the meeting was an opportunity to announce its fee increase over the next three years. The CALQ reacted very positively to this announcement, as their budget is distributed according to the applications to their various programs. Undeniably, it is preferable that commissioners ask for amounts reflecting the projects’ actual requirements – and the minimal rates established by the CLC – rather than based on the assumption that by applying for the smallest amount possible their chance of receiving a grant is increased.
In conjunction with the CALQ we examined the list of jurors over the last few years, to ascertain that the choice of jurors be sufficiently varied and balanced, and that composers be represented in large enough numbers. We also discussed past success rates which we consider far too low : according to CALQ records, only 29% of music commissioning projects were accepted over the last five years, a figure which several composers find rather optimistic. A discussion ensued regarding composer-ensemble relations, which we feel should be more clearly defined. Fees for closely related activities such as broadcasting of electronic parts, attendance at rehearsals, public presentations or travel expenses are examples of items which should be given greater consideration in contracts. Moreover, the CALQ was very clear concerning ensembles and organizations which commission musical works: expenses for commissioning works should be planned for in preparing budgets – something rarely occurring in Quebec – even if receiving an operating grant from the CALQ. The CALQ emphasizes that, although it is a supporting body, both ensembles and organizations must do their share so that composers benefit from decent professional working conditions.
Finally, we discussed the fact that several composers in Quebec have expressed the wish that results and deadlines for sending in applications to the CALQ be better coordinated with the Canada Council for the Arts. This way, composers could be more efficient in presenting applications federally and provincially. For example, they would not find themselves having received two grants (or two rejections) for the same project because they had not received an answer from one government agency before applying to the other. For composers who earn a living from their creative work, this is of great importance. Although the CALQ took note of these suggestions, numerous administrative difficulties were emphasized. Hence, this latter issue his will have to be discussed further. Both organizations agreed that holding this type of meeting on a regular basis, ideally every year, is important.