News

Canadian Heritage Receives Clear Message About Supporting Creators

Supporting Canada’s creators a strong focus of #DigiCanCon consultation report

Feedback gathered through social media, in-person consultations and the DigiCanCon web portal has been compiled and released in the form of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s consultation report called What we heard across Canada: Canadian Culture in a Digital World.

Focus On Creators has analyzed and discussed the report with our partners. We are encouraged by the consensus message sent to Canadian Heritage by those who took part in the consultations.

The report was prepared by Ipsos, who the government commissioned to synthesize feedback from thousands of Canadians, including citizens, industry associations and stakeholders. Ideas and submissions are archived on the government’s ‘What we have heard’ website.

Focus On Creators’ supporting partners shared news of the report’s release:

A wide swath of Canada’s creative industries participated in the consultations, including authors, visual artists, musicians, actors, screenwriters, and other creators of cultural content.

Overall, the ideas and submissions contained in the report provide many reasons to be hopeful that the consultation will produce positive results for creators. Many participants expressed a belief shared by our coalition that creators need to be compensated fairly when their work is used.

Creators were central to a few of the consultations’ key themes:

Modernizing Canada’s legislative framework and national cultural institutions could have profound results for Canada’s creators. Our letter to Minister Joly, now signed by more than 2,400 Canadian creators, identifies the 2017 Copyright Act review as a major opportunity for the government to stand up for Canada’s creators. Participants in the consultations agreed the Copyright Act has “not kept pace with the shifting digital environment and should be examined.” This feedback reinforces the importance of the 2017 Copyright Act review, specifically the need for meaningful updates to the Act to better support creators in the digital age.

Showcasing Canada’s cultural sector includes exploring the need for increased support for the production, marketing and export of Canadian content, which would help underscore its value at home and abroad.

Reasserting the role of Canadian creators in the digital age was something participants felt was necessary because of the “need to ensure that Canadian creators share in the financial rewards resulting from increased dissemination of cultural content via digital channels,” as well as the need “to foster increased re-investments in order to promote the creation of Canadian digital cultural content.” According to the report, these actions will help ensure creators can earn a living from their creative work so they don’t have to “seek out other career paths in order to support themselves.” This is, of course, a key point for Focus On Creators, and we’re encouraged that the report recognizes the link between digital dissemination and declining incomes for professional creators.

Defining Canadian cultural content and Canadian cultural creators was something that participants felt was in need of an update if the government is going to create new policies centered around these definitions. The report says there was “near unanimous agreement” on this point, while noting participants’ differing opinions on the definitions themselves.

Adapting current funding models to a constantly changing cultural landscape would allow for projects of cultural significance, such as Indigenous and diverse perspectives, to be expressed regardless of their perceived commercial viability.

The consultations were based on three core questions, which after review of submissions and feedback from participants, transformed into core principles.

Focusing on Citizens and Creators:

This first principle was suggested by participant consensus that our cultural system must support creators through skills development and the ability to protect ownership of their work so they can capitalize on success. Investing in our creators through sustainable funding models is another part of this principle, and there is agreement that “Canada’s current public funding model needs to be re-evaluated and transformed to allow broader access, more flexibility and reduced bureaucratic processes and procedures.”

Developing our creators through promotion and investment in arts education was another action identified by participants that could contribute to a healthy cultural system. A strong call also came to equip artists and creators with business skills, as “most agreed that creators and creative entrepreneurs need support that will allow them not only to refine their technical skills in the arts but also to turn their creative endeavours into sustainable businesses for themselves and to the benefit of the Canadian economy.”

Protecting our creators cannot be achieved without protecting their ability to commercialize their work. This is another point of consensus identified in the report. This section includes mention of the Copyright Act, noting the problem currently for most creators is that our intellectual property legislation is viewed as outdated and ineffective. “Several participants spoke specifically of the mandated five year review of the Copyright Act in 2017, saying that this was a vital opportunity for Canada to ‘stand up for creators.’ Most agreed that changes to IP legislation that divert the flow of revenue back to the hands of the idea generators is essential to the future of the cultural ecosystem in Canada.”

Reflecting Canadian identities and promoting sound democracy:

To reflect Canadian identities, participants felt that cultural funding should take our diverse population into account and particular attention should be paid to promoting Indigenous representation, both official languages, and stories that reflect our broad spectrum of voices. As for promoting a strong democracy, “there was general agreement that a robust Canadian cultural offering contributes to a strong Canadian identity which in turn breeds engaged citizens.” This is another reason it is so essential that our government ensure our creators can continue to tell uniquely Canadian stories to the world, and global stories to Canadians.

Catalyzing economic and social innovation:

A cultural ecosystem that thrives and fuels the growth of the middle class was identified by participants as central to this third principle. We believe this begins with creators. As our letter states, our work is being consumed in greater volume than ever, but too many creators are being squeezed out in the digital marketplace, and the middle class artist is being eliminated from the Canadian economy. A cultural ecosystem that fuels the growth of the middle class MUST ensure that our cultural creators can earn a reasonable living from their work so that a creative middle class can thrive.

Although there were differing opinions on how to achieve the goals and changes participants agreed were necessary in the digital age, the fact that creators were always front and center in the conversation is reason to be optimistic about the end result of this consultation, as well as future policy decisions that affect our cultural industries like the 2017 Copyright Act review.

We urge the government to use the information gleaned from this consultation to establish a model for the sustained growth of Canada’s creative middle class.

SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) Joins Focus On Creators Coalition

We are pleased to announce that SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) has formally joined the Focus On Creators coalition as a supporting partner!

SOCAN is the Canadian copyright collective that administers the performing rights of more than 130,000 members by licensing the use of their music in Canada.

“On the eve of copyright reform in Canada – with the upcoming review of Canada’s Copyright Act in 2017, and the government’s Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations – there’s no more important time for SOCAN’s songwriter, composer and music publisher members to make their voices heard by signing on to the Focus On Creators initiative,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste in a release.

We welcome the support of SOCAN, and encourage their creator members to add their names to our joint letter to Minister Joly at https://focusoncreators.ca/sign-the-letter/.

Heritage Minister Joly shares first impressions from #DigiCanCon consultations at Prime Time in Ottawa

Yesterday, at the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)’s Prime Time in Ottawa conference, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, participated in a keynote conversation with CMPA President and CEO Reynolds Mastin, in which she shared preliminary observations from the Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations. The full conversation has been archived on YouTube.

After showing a video with images from the consultations in various cities, Minister Joly spoke of the size and scope of the consultation, noting that 30,000 people contributed to the consultations through town halls, website submissions, and social media.

“We saw a broad range of people getting involved. Actors, musicians, producers, even private broadcasters, the public broadcaster, and also some telecoms and some digital platforms,” said Joly. “So, it was interesting to have this conversation – I think the time was just right. And that’s why also, I saw an evolution in the discussion, and clearly a need for modernization.”

Minister Joly mentioned that she felt “empowered” by the response of creators and other stakeholders in the consultation process, and spoke to the importance of fairness for content creators in developing policies. She acknowledged that content creators are at the heart of the cultural ecosystem, and stressed the importance of promoting Canadian content both at home and abroad.

“My job is to promote Canadian content. My job is to make sure that you have access to markets here at home and across the world,” said Joly. “My job is to be the Chief Marketing Officer for Canadian content and to develop these networks ultimately for the content creators and the industry here.”

To that point, Minister Joly noted that the Dept. of Canadian Heritage is currently developing Canada’s first-ever Cultural Export Strategy, which she said will be announced some time in 2017. The government is investing $35 million over two years towards the development of the Export Strategy, and Minister Joly says that a new Canadian Cultural Policy will also be announced in 2017.

The government has contracted Ipsos to analyse the results of submissions throughout the consultation process, and according to Minister Joly, we can expect a report to be released in the next few weeks.

Submissions to the consultation are now closed, but Focus On Creators will continue to advocate for policies that allow Canadian creators to earn a living from their work and continue to tell Canadian stories. As stated in our letter to Minister Joly, the work of Canadian creators is being consumed in greater volume than ever before, but many creators struggle to earn a living from their work. The cultural policy review as well as the five-year mandated review of the Copyright Act in 2017 provide an opportunity to put creators at the heart of cultural policy.

We are encouraged by the first impressions from the consultation and Minister Joly’s statements regarding the cultural and economic importance of Canada’s creators, and will continue to monitor for future developments.

If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed our letter, we invite you to add your name at https://focusoncreators.ca/ourletter/, and to stay updated on our initiative by following us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Momentum for Focus On Creators continues as more than 2,000 creators sign on to joint letter

We are pleased to announce that more than 2,000 creators have now added their names to our joint letter urging Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly to put creators at the heart of future policy. Support for our letter has been very strong since launch last week and continues to build.

The names of 1,077 Canadian creators appeared on the letter delivered to Minister Joly on November 29, 2016. Since then, an incredible 943 more authors, musicians, actors, composers, filmmakers, playwrights, poets, visual artists and other creators have added their names, bringing the total to 2,022, and support is still growing!

On December 7, we were proud to welcome the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) as a new supporting partner. The CCMIA represents around 8,000 artists, managers, labels and other industry professionals through its provincial and territorial member associations. Keep an eye out for new supporting organizations coming aboard in the future.

Let’s keep the momentum going so that policymakers in Ottawa hear the message loud and clear. Focus On Creators is a call to action by Canadian creators. Canadians are consuming more digital content than ever before, and creators have led the shift – they have digitized their work, mastered the Internet, and become their own social media directors. Yet the laws and regulations that allow creators to exploit their works to make a living are now out of date. Without urgent attention from government, thousands of Canadian creators will not be able to tell their uniquely Canadian stories.

If you’re a Canadian creator and you haven’t yet signed the letter, have a look and add your name here.

Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) Joins Focus On Creators coalition

We’re pleased to announce that the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) has formally joined the Focus On Creators coalition as a supporting partner!

The CCMIA represents provincial and territorial music industry associations in Canada, including Alberta Music, Manitoba Music, Music and Film in Motion, Music BC, Music Nova Scotia, Music NWT, Music PEI, Music Yukon, Music/Musique NB, MusicNL, MusicOntario, and SaskMusic.

Between its member organizations, the CCMIA represents nearly 8,000 music industry professionals across Canada, including artists, managers, publicists, agents, educators, promoters and other music industry entrepreneurs.

We welcome the support of the CCMIA, and encourage their creator members to add their names to our joint letter to Minister Joly at https://focusoncreators.ca/sign-the-letter/

A growing list of nearly 1,100 artists and creators urge the Government of Canada to put creators at the heart of cultural policy

Nearly 1,100 Canadian musicians, authors, songwriters, composers, music producers, poets, playwrights, film composers, actors, directors, and other members of the creative class have signed a joint letter addressed to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, urging the government to put Canada’s creators at the heart of our cultural policy.

Canadians are consuming more digital content than ever before, and creators have led the shift – they have digitized their work, mastered the Internet, and become their own social media directors. Yet the laws and regulations that allow creators to monetize their works to make a living are now out of date. Without urgent attention from government, thousands of Canadian creators will not be able to tell their uniquely Canadian stories.

“In an ever-changing digital climate that is working against creators to financially exist, it has never been more important for Canada to be leaders in copyright reform to not only save artists, but the voice of Canada,” says Royal Wood, professional musician.

“Canadian writers play an important role in creating, critiquing, and changing culture. I wish our time and labour was better compensated! Most Canadian writers don’t just create, but publicize and market our work too, using social media and other digital technologies. The vast majority of us need other paid work in order to make ends meet. This means that we juggle multiple jobs, and still manage to produce award-winning novels, poetry, non-fiction, short-stories,” says Farzana Doctor, author and Lambda Literary Award winner. “It should not be this way; legislators must ensure that writers can earn a living from their craft.”

In light of some major federal cultural policy activities, including the Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations, and the upcoming Copyright Act review in 2017, the Focus On Creators coalition was formed to bring focus to the artists’ perspective.

The initiative is supported by Canadian creative industry associations including Music Canada, the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), the Writers’ Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, the Canadian Music Publishers Association, the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association.

“We’ve seen firsthand the respect that Canada’s music gets in other parts of the world. The support we’ve traditionally given our creators is also well-recognized,” says Suzie Ungerleider, who performs as Oh, Susanna. “But Canada should have an updated system that continues to treat artists fairly, especially as technological changes make it more difficult for them to be compensated for their work.”

“The digital shift has brought a wealth of opportunity to Canada’s writers and readers, but that opportunity is accompanied by serious economic challenges that must be addressed with sensitive, nuanced policy in order to maintain a distinct Canadian cultural identity and to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to Canadian stories,” says John Degen, author and Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

The initial list of creators grew to nearly 1,100 individuals in a short time, but is expected to increase now that the initiative is launched.  Canadian creators are encouraged to join Alanis Morissette, Brett Kissel, Blue Rodeo, Gord Downie, Gordon Lightfoot, Grimes, Metric, The Sheepdogs, Marie Claire Blais, Rudy Wiebe, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sharon Pollock, Daniel David Moses, Mary Vingoe, Garth Richardson, Gary Barwin, Alice Major, Maureen Hynes and many more Canadian creators in adding their names to the letter at FocusOnCreators.ca. Please help send this important message to policymakers in Ottawa.