National Director’s Blog: This morn­ing the CCA issued a press release titled, The Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of the Arts closes its doors after 67 years.

I don’t need to tell you how dif­fi­cult it has been to write those words down and how we have tried our best not to express them. But there comes a moment when real­ity stares down the most hope­ful out­look on things. 

It is seven years to the day that I was given the job of National Direc­tor of the CCA. Dur­ing these years I have devel­oped the great­est of respect for this orga­ni­za­tion and the incred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion it has made to the devel­op­ment of cul­tural poli­cies at the fed­eral level.

How many times, par­tic­u­larly over the past two years, have I heard peo­ple say that if we did not have the CCA, we would have to invent it? Over the last 18 months we have enthusiastically embraced the chal­lenge set before us by the government’s decision to put an end to 47 years of fund­ing.

We attempted to rein­vent the organ­i­sa­tion as an autonomous body, but as our Chair Kath­leen Sharpe says in her let­ter, we would have needed two years of fund­ing to tran­si­tion to this new model, rather than the brief six months that we were given.

There were moments of great hes­i­ta­tion as to the mer­its of con­tin­u­ing our work, to go for­ward on the basis of com­mit­ments received to date and encour­ag­ing signs from our mem­bers, who con­firmed that we were on the right track by renew­ing their mem­ber­ships.

Wouldn’t the sim­ple act of giv­ing up kill the pos­si­bil­ity of suc­ceed­ing against all odds? But when we stepped back and con­sid­ered our chances of con­tin­u­ing past March 2013, it became appar­ent to the Board as well as the sec­re­tariat that it would be irre­spon­si­ble to risk the funds that had been col­lected from pub­lic and pri­vate sup­port­ers to date.

We con­cluded that the best we could do in the cir­cum­stances would be to leave the organ­i­sa­tion in order, in a sus­pended state, in the hopes that a group ready to take on the chal­lenge of re-launching this unpar­al­leled instru­ment in the arts, cul­ture and her­itage sec­tor would emerge.

We remain con­vinced the Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tors need an organ­i­sa­tion like the CCA. We’re talk­ing about a role as con­venor, observer, and ana­lyst of the major cul­tural issues at the national level. In the chang­ing envi­ron­ment we find our­selves in, the Cana­dian cul­tural sec­tor needs to pull together, to come out of our soli­tude, to iden­tify com­mon inter­ests, and to develop strate­gies to pur­sue them. The team that you know is with­draw­ing, but we are leav­ing you with what you need in order that you may pick up the torch, in new con­di­tions, like the phoenix ris­ing from the ashes.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take mea­sures to make this tran­si­tion pos­si­ble and to pre­serve cer­tain key projects like the annual fed­eral bud­get analy­sis that the CCA has been pub­lish­ing for more than 20 years. We are putting an agree­ment in place with the Uni­ver­sity of Ottawa so that our provin­cial and ter­ri­to­r­ial bud­get analy­ses from the per­spec­tive of the arts, cul­ture and her­itage project, which we were aim­ing to pub­lish in Jan­u­ary, sees the light of day and, if pos­si­ble, con­tin­ues in the future. We will be mov­ing our impor­tant doc­u­ments to the National Archives, which already holds much of our his­tory since 1945. We will put in place a board of gov­er­nors that will become the guardians of the organisation’s legacy.

We leave behind a glo­ri­ous his­tory, but also a promis­ing future, as long as some­one is will­ing and able to take up our work. It is this hope and desire for the sec­tor that makes our depar­ture less dif­fi­cult. The cul­tural sec­tor is one of cre­ativ­ity and inven­tion: I have con­fi­dence that you will recre­ate a space that reflects you and brings you together in the future, a place that belongs to you com­pletely, immune to the vagaries of pol­i­tics, and over which you will be the proud champions.

To close, I salute you, and thank you all. This has been a great moment in my life, to work with you all, pas­sion­ate, cul­tured people!

Alain Pineau