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Collective Agenda for the Visual Arts

Visual Arts Summit, Ottawa, November 2007

Art is the face of Canada.

We, as artists, curators, collectors, dealers, educators and supporters, are united to enhance the opportunities for Canadian art to be created, seen, understood and enjoyed. We came together in the largest gathering of the visual arts in our history, to proclaim the critical role of the visual arts in an innovative and compassionate society in the 21st century. We know what is needed: we call on the governments, nations and peoples of Canada to join us in realizing our potential.

The visual arts community acts within an increasingly complex environment, with stagnant or shrinking resources. The growth in public engagement with the visual arts is not reflected in government policies or support. Canadian artists, galleries and museums have been starved for too long. Too many people work in the visual arts without an adequate livelihood or long-term security.

The lack of vigorous and consistent policy, particularly from the federal government, is unacceptable. The visual arts provide a high level of service while receiving an unjustly low level of support from most government agencies and departments. In a time of global challenges calling for dialogue and understanding, the Canadian government has cut support for our international cultural profile. The unique and diverse character of Canada is under threat. The visual arts offer the best opportunity to counter this threat. It is time to recognize the place of visual arts at the centre of society.

We commit ourselves to work together:

* To satisfy the public’s growing demand for participation in visual culture;
* To communicate the sector’s needs with a united voice;
* To provide a secure livelihood for artists;
* To acknowledge the varied cultures of the indigenous peoples of this land;
* To reflect the diversity of our society; and
* To strengthen the institutions that advance the visual arts.

With a united voice, we advocate:

1. To create a new alliance across the sector, to advance the position of the visual arts;
2. To engage public appreciation for, and connection with, visual arts in all their forms;
3. To provide stronger and stable support to artists and to the individuals and institutions that present, preserve and interpret the work they create;
4. To establish a dedicated fund for the payment of artists for the public exhibition of their works;
5. To increase investment in arts education for all ages and from all levels of government;
6. To provide dedicated support for Aboriginal arts; and
7. To recognize and support the leading role of visual arts in strengthening Canada’s international profile.

We envision a Canada that embraces creativity in all its dimensions. We believe in art that challenges us, deepens our understanding, and bridges our differences. Visual arts build a more tolerant, diverse and creative world.

Show your support, sign the statement here, and forward the link to your colleagues.

* Even if you did not attend the Visual Arts Summit, we encourage you to support the petition.

For more information:
Visual Arts Summit

Summit Partners:
Aboriginal Curatorial Collective (ACC)
Art Dealers Association of Canada (ADAC)
Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCCC)
Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
Canadian Education Association
Canadian Museums Association (CMA)
Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Organization (CAMDO)
Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA)

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA)