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CARFAC National Annual Report and Current Activities

Over the last 18 months, CARFAC has been engaged in programs that have real impact for artists. Last year, before our worlds were turned upside down, we began several exciting initiatives which are still ongoing, even during . Like everyone else, we immediate shifted gears this spring, focussing on urgent priorities, while we remain committed to ongoing core actions that improve artists’ livelihoods and working conditions.

While we continue to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we also acknowledge the considerable damage and impact of systemic racism in Canada, which continues to be pervasive within our sector. We recognize that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) artists and cultural workers face substantial barriers to economic stability and prosperity, and equitable representation and accountability. We stand in solidarity with BIPOC communities, and we are committed to anti-racism in all forms. We reflect on the knowledge that historically, CARFAC has not always made consistent, concerted efforts to include and champion the voices and needs of racialized and marginalized artists. Moving forward, we pledge to carry out our work with greater and more meaningful engagement with communities that have previously been underrepresented in our work, in our leadership positions, and amongst our membership.

COVID-19 has profoundly affected artists in Canada. We hear your concerns, and we share your worries as well as your hope for the future. Since March, we have provided information and resources for artists, and in April we called on the government to expand CERB’s eligibility criteria to make it more accessible to artists. In June, we called for an extension and some clarifications regarding CERB, as well as the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). In July we endorsed a letter calling for UBI, and we included it as one of our four recommendations in our 2021 Federal Pre-budget submission. On September 16th, we will present a webinar on UBI, as part of International Basic Income Week.

Last summer, we shared preliminary research about establishing labour standards for independent curators. We also distributed the results of our consultation projects to revise payment guidelines for media art and performance art, which led to amendments to the CARFAC-RAAV Recommended Minimum Fee Schedule. We proposed new and revised rates for the years 2020 to 2024, which include a 2% annual increase. Those changes were approved by members at our 2019 AGM, and it is available on a new website: In April, we released Paying Artists, which includes new recommended practices for paying artists during the COVID-19 crisis, which will no doubt continue to evolve.

CARFAC is developing a new Indigenous Intellectual and Cultural Property toolkit for the visual arts sector. The toolkit, similar to protocols developed in Australia, will offer guidelines for respectful protocols around the use and protection of First Nations, Inuit and Métis traditional and contemporary visual art and cultural material. The project is led by an Advisory Circle of Indigenous visual and media artists, who met last September to discuss the goals and objectives of the project. They will meet again this fall, this time online, and then a series of public engagement meetings for Indigenous artists will occur by webinar. By year-end, materials will be publicly available, with further presentations available to our members and other interested parties.

We always strive to put more money in artists’ pockets, and we’ve never needed a redistribution of wealth within the commercial market more than we do now. We continue to develop a campaign for an Artist’s Resale Right (ARR). Since last September, we have been tracking auction sales and developing new case studies of Canadian artists whose works sell in the secondary art market. Last November, Renuka Bauri travelled to Sydney to conduct research on how the ARR works in Australia. She met with Copyright Agency, the copyright collective that administers ARR for artists in Australia. She also met with ARR experts from the Australian Arts Council, Arts Law Centre of Australia, and the National Association for Visual Art. A report on these efforts will be shared this fall.

Last October, Ingrid Mary Percy and Bernard Guerin attended the SCCR/39 meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, to learn about new ARR developments in other countries, and to participate in efforts to make the universal adoption of this creators’ right mandatory. We had plans to organize a special event in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ARR this year at WIPO. Instead we will host a webinar this fall that will focus on the need for Canadian legislation, progress we have made advocating for the ARR in Canada, and the importance that a directive from WIPO could have in our efforts.

Last fall, we began working on the development of Imprimo, a new Blockchain project for visual artists. We are wrapping up Phase One of this project, and Canadian artists will soon be able to register their works, and its metadata, to a publicly accessible and transparent system that allows you to track sales, donations, exhibition, and publication history of an artwork, in a verifiable and authoritative way. We recently presented the project to artists for beta-testing, and we will begin the second phase of the project with further development, testing, and information sessions this fall.

Last September, CARFAC welcomed visual artists to our AGM and National Gathering in Vancouver, with meetings and social events taking place at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, the James Black Gallery, and the Vancouver Film School. During the conference, we were pleased to offer the newly renamed Tony Urquhart Advocacy Award to Lou-ann Ika’wega Neel, for her dedication and contributions to the visual arts community. Over the weekend, we offered presentations on the Indigenous Intellectual Property and Blockchain initiatives, as well as a session where local and national organizations spoke about the services they offer artists. We also presented a panel, Alternative Labour Models for Artists, where participants heard about collective organizing through labour unions and cooperatives from the United States, the UK, Europe, and Canada. This spring, we were disappointed to have to postpone a National Gathering with members in St. John’s, and we look forward to celebrating healthier, happier times with members in-person soon.

As the national membership association for visual artists, we are pleased to welcome many new members this year, even during this difficult time. We can succeed because of your support, encouragement, and expertise. We continue to develop new tools and resources for our members, from coast to coast to coast. Last spring, we launched a new website, which now has a membership directory and Featured Member of the Month section. If you’d like to participate as a Featured Member or to be listed in the directory, let us know. We are committed to championing a community that reflects the diversity of all artists in Canada, and we will prioritize requests accordingly.

All of these efforts would not have been possible without financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts, Access Copyright Foundation, Employment and Social Development Canada, and City of Vancouver; sponsorship from Assurart, Vancity, BC Federation of Labour, IATSE, Emily Carr University Faculty Association, and VALU-Coop; partnership and collaboration with Prescient Innovations, RAAV, Copyright Visual Arts, Canadian Arts Coalition, and members of the Visual Arts Alliance; and as always, our members.

Submitted by April Britski, National Executive Director, CARFAC