Sunday, February 1, 2004

SAA Bulletin

February 2004

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2004 ARTS CONGRESS
Join us for the 2004 Arts Congress to be held on May 7th and 8th in Saskatoon at the Odeon Events Centre. The Arts Congress theme will focus on the “artist in our midst”, a phrase Premier Lorne Calvert used when addressing delegates of the 2003 Congress. Featured again this year will be the Conversations on Valuing the Arts in the Community, dialogues between public officials and members of the arts community, and Stories from the Art in which artists speak about their lives as practicing artists.

If you are an individual artist, or a member, on the staff or Board of an art organization or just interested in the arts, please plan on attending. Please note that the SAA provides a limited number of travel bursaries to help professional artists attend the Congress. Call the SAA for information.

NEW AT THE SAA
Kelly Griffiths recently assumed the position of Executive Assistant Intern (until March 31st) to Marnie Gladwell, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance. Kelly’s main duties focus around the organization of the 2004 Arts Congress, as well as working on arts advocacy research. This position is a component of the Centennial Student Employment Program - Cultural Component funded by Culture, Youth and Recreation and the Government of Saskatchewan.

BOARD OF DIRECTOR NEWS
SAA members should expect to hear from one of our Board members in the next few weeks. At the recent annual planning retreat, the SAA Board of Directors decided to maintain contact with our member through regular phone calls to ensure that we are aware of the current arts issues you are facing, and to let you know about initiatives the Board is working on.

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
SAA met with Hon. Joan Beatty, Minister of Culture, Youth and Recreation (CYR). Ms. Beatty’s top priorities as Minister are inclusiveness of northern residents, youth and Aboriginal communities. There is a commitment to have a draft of the cultural policy in the Department of Culture, Youth and Recreation workplan, The final report of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Status of the Artist (MACSA) is being reviewed by an internal committee with a decision expected in the near future.

SAA met with Hon. Ralph Goodale’s staff to update them on arts issues including the need for:
  • adequate, stable, multi-year funding for Canada’s cultural institutions
  • federal programs and policies to be regionally sensitive
  • quicker processing of grant payments so organizations do not need to find bridge financing measures and policies that will improve socio-economic conditions for self-employed cultural workers. For example, artists’ ownership of their own creative works, tempering the economic situation of artistic income through measures such as income back averaging, allowing an exemption of income tax on a portion of artistic income, presumption that artists are independent contractors unless otherwise indicated in their contracts.
  • a strong stand for a separate instrument for cultural diversity negotiated in international trade agreements.


PUBLIC WORKS SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM
Last December, the federal government announced elimination of the Public Works Sponsorship Program, boasting that it would save government $40 million per year. Responsibility for administering the commitments already made to arts and culture organizations was transferred to Canadian Heritage although the money was not transferred with the responsibilities. The reduction of funds available to our sector will impact arts and culture organizations whether or not they accessed sponsorship money. Last fiscal year, Saskatchewan received $374,985, divided as follows:
Culture – 144,910
Sport – 118,175
Special – 58,000
Community – 54,900
Canadian Heritage has struck a task force of senior managers to prepare a report on how it might continue support of the program. The report will come out in the next few weeks.

For our part, SAA wrote to the Prime Minister expressing concern about the long-term negative impact that cancellation of the Public Works Sponsorship Program will have on Saskatchewan arts and cultural organizations. We asked that he make the funds once in the Public Works department budget available to our organizations, now and in the future, through the appropriate department.

REGINA PUBLIC LIBRARY CLOSES SERVICES
Friends of the Regina Public Library (RPL) and Friends of the Dunlop Art Gallery (DAG) continue to fight the closures of three inner-city branches, Dunlop Art Gallery and Prairie History room. The closures have already begun – the DAG has cancelled future programming and contracts, and layoff notices have been issued. There is also uncertainty about the future of the DAG collection. As of May 1, 2004, the DAG will cease operations.

The Regina Library Task Force, appointed by the RPL Board to conduct an independent review is holding public consultations. SAA recently appeared before the Task Force, urging them to reverse the closures. (Contact the SAA for a copy of our presentation.)

Disappointed with the mandate of the Library Task Force, Friends of the RPL formed a Citizens' Task Force to investigate the proposed cuts, hear the public’s views on the RPL system and make recommendations on it.

A petition, started by Friends of the RPL, to require the city to provide to the RPL Board sufficient funds to prevent the closures, has surpassed the number of signatures required to force a binding vote. Even though they reached the required number, the Friends continue to gather signatures. Friends of the RPL filed an application in Queen’s Court to overturn the RPL Board’s decision. Justice Fred Kovach ruled he would not interfere with the RPL Board’s decisions.

An application has been made to have the Prairie History Room collection designated as a provincial heritage property in order to protect it from being dispersed and sold. There are several steps to the designation process, which may take up to three months. The minister responsible, Hon. Joan Beatty, must decide to proceed on the designation process. Then, the Saskatchewan Heritage Advisory Board reviews the application and provides preliminary recommendations, which is followed by public consultation. The advisory board then gives its final recommendation to the minister.

PREMIER’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
Nominations are being accepted for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Public Service. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by Sask. Public servants for quality service, innovation and leadership. Nomination forms are available at www.recognition.gov.sk.ca if you have a person you would like to nominate for this distinction.


SAA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lori Green, President
Allen Lefebvre, Past President
Skip Kutz, Vice-President
Jill Reid, Secretary
Brenda Niskala, Treasurer
Marnie Badham
Sandra Grismer
Donna Heimbecker
Kim Houghtaling
Christie Saas
Don Stein

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance is supported by its members, and the Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskCulture Inc. and Saskatchewan Lotteries.