Submitted by April Britski, CARFAC National Executive Director
CARFAC celebrated several milestones this year, which bring change and opportunity for our organization, and our members. The big news of the year was our victory at the Supreme Court in May, and the successful conclusion of our negotiations with the National Gallery in November. Our agreement with the gallery was overwhelmingly approved by our members in February: 53% of our voting members cast their ballots, with an impressive approval rate of 99.8%. Our agreement takes effect on April 1st, and is now available for view on our website. This is the first agreement of its kind in Canada, and major gains have been achieved for artists. The overwhelming support of our members has been critical to our success. We thank everyone who donated to our legal defense fund along the way, as well as our dedicated bargaining committee, and our committed team at Raven Law.
Our Recommended Minimum Copyright Fee Schedule is the industry standard for payment of artists in Canada. Last year, over 1,000 artists responded to a survey about our fee recommendations, and a report on the results will be available shortly. This year, we will renegotiate our fee agreement with CAMDO, CMA, and ARCA, and we will work with the IMAA to develop an agreement on fees for media arts. We are also developing promotional tools for artists to better understand their rights as they relate to the payment of artist fees, as well as tools for museums and artist-run centres. CARFAC also strives to improve the contractual conditions offered to Canadian artists for the public presentation of their work, through the development of Best Practices Standards. Projects have been completed in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and the Maritimes, with Ontario soon to follow.
We continue to consult with our members and the government about the addition of an Artists’ Resale Right in the Copyright Act. We had a positive meeting with Minister Glover in May, and in August, it was included in our Federal Pre-Budget submission. We are monitoring how the ARR has been implemented in other countries, and we are preparing an update on our proposal, including recent international developments.
CARFAC retains its membership and representation in the Visual Arts Alliance, and the Canadian Arts Coalition, and we participate in the annual Arts Day on the Hill, and the Canada Council NASO meetings. We share concerns with many of our colleagues in the visual arts about the recently announced changes to funding models at the Canada Council for the Arts, and we will consult with them further about what those changes will mean for our members.
We are working to increase our membership, and strive to meet the needs of artists at all stages of their careers. Our 2014 national conference saw an even mix of emerging, mid-career, and senior artists, which is also reflected in our current board composition. Many of our regional affiliates are recruiting students to join their board or student committees, and are looking to add more students and recent graduates as members. We work with the Canadian Senior Artist Resource Network, and promote their seminars for senior artists, and their new mentorship program, which will expand nationally next year. In the coming year, we also plan to survey members about the needs and issues faced by mid-career artists.
Our national conference has been our main vehicle for providing education and professional development opportunities for our members. In 2015, we will be taking a different approach in the organization of our AGM. Instead of one national event in one city, we will host a series of presentations across Canada on the theme of contracts and negotiation skills development for visual artists. The new format allows for increased engagement from our local members on issues shared nationally. Each presentation will share one theme in common, providing consistency of knowledge, from coast to coast. It allows us to have a national conversation between artists across several cities, large and small. We believe that these presentations will help promote awareness about the availability of CARFAC’s sample contracts, and encourage artists to use a contract in their dealings with presenters on a more regular basis. Presenters will discuss techniques that artists can use to protect their rights and receive fair payment for the use of their work. The first presentation will take place in Saskatoon on May 31st, with other cities across Canada hosting similar events throughout the year. Check our website for dates and locations, and key insights learned as we go.
With all of this activity, CARFAC National has also expanded its capacity through its staff and secretariat. For personal reasons, and in an effort to assist with regional development, I recently moved to Vancouver, where I’ll be sharing an office space with Canadian Actors Equity for the duration of 2015. We’re a national organization, and with two national offices, we should be able to offer more support this year to our members, from coast to coast. In March, we hired Renuka Bauri as our new Membership Relations Coordinator, who will join Advocacy and Communications Director, Melissa Gruber, in our Ottawa office.
As always, we are grateful for the support of our members, and the dedication shown by our staff and the artists that volunteer their time and expertise as board members. It’s been a rewarding year, full of growth and success, and we look forward to a new year, full of promise and activity.