Over the last 18 months, CARFAC has been at the forefront of several advocacy efforts to help artists get through difficult times brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. We are very grateful that the Federal Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those in need. However, we were very concerned that many artists were contacted about repaying these benefits in December because of the lack of clarity on eligibility terms. We quickly brought our sector together to advocate for change, and in February we were pleased with the announcement that self-employed individuals who applied for benefits based on their gross income and meet all other criteria would not be required to repay the benefit.
The Pandemic has highlighted the need for a social safety net for Canada’s most vulnerable workers, and CERB has offered a glimpse of what that could look like, moving forward. Our recent Pre-Budget submission provided a recommendation for the modernization of Employment Insurance, which includes a permanent CERB-like program that self-employed workers could access when it is needed. We also continue to advocate for a Universal Basic Income, and we encourage artists to do the same as the upcoming Federal election ramps up.
Last fall, we presented Webinar Wednesdays in partnership with RAAV, and we plan to continue the presentation series this fall. A popular session was on tax planning for artists, and earlier this spring, we collaborated with the Canada Revenue Agency to record a presentation on filing 2020 taxes, and we shared a list of relevant tax resources for artists. We are planning additional presentations in the coming months, as well as sharing some new publications on tax planning and preparation, designed for artists.
For over a year, we have been working on the development of an Indigenous Protocols for the Visual Arts toolkit, including a resource guide document, podcast interviews, and useful links that offer guidance on the use and protection of Indigenous visual art and cultural expressions. We plan to share this digital toolkit with our members and community partners this fall, and we look forward to presenting a new workshop series next year.
Last spring, we released Paying Artists, which includes new recommended practices for paying artists during the COVID-19 crisis, and earlier this year, we joined IMAA’s working group to establish new standards for the streaming and online presentation of media art. As a result, new proposals for changes to the CARFAC-RAAV Recommended Minimum Fee Schedule will be shared with members and voted on at our upcoming AGM.
To compliment our payment guidelines, we have been working with partner organizations to develop new platforms to help artists get paid and to protect their work. We recently shared the news that Copyright Visual Arts (COVA-DAAV) have launched Image Bank, a new digital licensing tool for Canadian visual art. Image Bank provides quick and easy digital licensing options for artists and users of their work. We also worked with Prescient Innovations and a test group of artists last summer to develop a prototype for Imprimo, and earlier this year we consulted with galleries and museums about how this service could respond to their needs. We are busy preparing for intake and widespread beta testing of this new Blockchain platform this fall and winter.
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 the Independent Media Arts Alliance; 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 – who we hope to see at our upcoming AGM on September 26th.
Despite recent challenges that we have all faced, we are full of hope and optimism for the future, when we may come together again.