History of the Canada Council
- Striking of the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences popularly known as the Massey Commission after its Chair, Vincent Massey.
- Publication of the Massey Commission Report which recommended the creation of the Canada Council and offered comprehensive research, analysis and recommendations on Canada's cultural and educational life.
28 March 1957
- Passage of The Canada Council Act by Parliament. "The objects of the Council are to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts, humanities and social sciences..."
- The Canada Council is assigned responsibility for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
- Initial funding for programs comes from government decision to create an Endowment Fund of $100 million derived from the death duties of Nova Scotia industrialists Sir James Dunn and Izaak Walton Killam.
- Hon. Brooke Claxton appointed Chairman. A.W. Trueman appointed Director.
- Revenue from $50 million Endowment Fund for arts related activities amounts to $2.7 million.
- Total grants and awards 1957-58 at $1.4 million.
- Council grants assistance to nine orchestras, three professional theatre companies, three dance companies and two periodicals.
- Largest arts grant to an individual is $10,000 to Helen Creighton to transcribe folk tunes on tape at the National Museum.
- Théâtre du Nouveau Monde receives $20,000 to tour Canada and Europe.
- Each of the following arts organizations receive grants of $50,000: National Ballet Guild of Canada; Stratford Shakespearean Festival; Vancouver Festival Society.
- Management of the Governor-General Literary Awards passes to the Canada Council from Canadian Authors' Association.
- Leonard Cohen, Al Purdy, Alden Nowlan and five other poets receive $25 grants for reading fees along with assistance for travel costs to give poetry readings.
- Dr. Claude Bissell appointed Chairman.
- Governor-General English Fiction prize awarded posthumously to Malcolm Lowry. French Fiction prize awarded to Yves Thériault.
- Col. Douglas B. Weldon appointed Chairman.
- The Council recommends that government increase Endowment Fund by $30 million over three years.
- Molson Foundation endows the Council with $600,000 to create the Molson Prizes to be awarded to Canadians "whose work constitutes an outstanding achievement in the arts, humanities, or social sciences."
- Jean Martineau appointed Chairman.
- In Final Supplementary Estimates, Parliament allocates an unconditional grant of $10 million to the Council.
- Jean Boucher appointed Director.
- The Council initiates first organized meetings with groups of artists known as "Soundings".
- Killam Trust bequeaths $16.5 million from the widow of Izaak Walton Killam for programs of academic study and research.
- A selection of grants/awards recipients includes Margaret Laurence, Alden Nowlan, Denys Arcand and Marie-Claire Blais.
- Parliament approves grant of $16.9 million increasing fivefold the funds given to arts through Council.
- Council staff completes study on the performing arts in Canada. Earned revenue in the performing arts has increased from $2.4 million in 1957 to $9 million in 1967-68.
- Dance becomes a distinct section within the Council.
- Council contracts for a study on the Artist and Taxation.
- Artists-in-residence initiated and Short-term grants introduced.
- A selection of grants/awards recipients include: André Prévost, Veronica Tennant, Michel Tremblay, John Greer, Jacques Godbout, Ted Allan, Roch Carrier, Alanis Obomsawin, Margaret Atwood, David Cronenberg, Timothy Findley, John Metcalf, Joy Kogawa, Michael Ondaatje and George Woodcock.
- John G. Prentice appointed Chairman. Peter M. Dwyer appointed Director.
- Creation of Diffusing the Arts Program, an innovative approach to seeking new audiences.
- Cinema and Photography introduced as a distinct discipline.
- Establishment of Arts Awards Juries and Arts Bursaries Juries
- Council decries the economic situation of artists and their difficulty of being recognized as professionals by the society at large.
- André Fortier appointed Director.
- Creation of the Art Bank
- Research begins on a report on income, expenditure and performance statistics over a five year period for 29 arts organizations.
- Unveiling of Victor M. Lynch-Staunton Awards for the visual arts. Presented in memory of Staunton whose estate bequeathed Council $700,000 in 1968.
- Introduction of Block Grants to publishers.
- Introduction of Translation Grants for Canadian publications.
- First Explorations Program awards. Recipients include: Victor Malarek, Monique Boisvert, Black Theatre Canada, Bruce Kidd, Native Arts Guild (London, ON) and John Grayson.
- Opening of Touring Office.
- Introduction of the Book Purchase Program to promote Canadian literature.
- Initial awards for Canada Council's Translation Prizes.
- Publication of Touring Directory.
- Funding restrictions create cutbacks in real dollar value of Council support.
- Gertrude Laing appointed Chairman. Charles Lussier appointed Director.
- Budget for the arts now at $32.6 million.
- Introduction of Children's Literature Prizes.
- Council assists 149 publishers in 38 communities across the country.
- Art Bank's holdings number 6,600 works.
- Twenty-three grants made to "parallel" art galleries.
- 153 musical organizations and 102 theatre organizations receive grants.
- Chairman Gertrude Laing advises Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting, Films and Assistance to the Arts that The Canada Council will continue to fund individuals and organizations based on the intrinsic artistic merit of their projects and not on their political convictions and beliefs.
- Touring Office organized 54 tours of performing arts companies.
- Council strongly requests that the tradition of independence is maintained, that the only framework for funding is artistic criteria as interpreted by professionals.
- Council publishes Twenty-five plus Five: The Role of the Canada Council in the Arts to initiate discussion with arts communities and the public on Council's future direction.
- Government creates Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); the Canada Council's mandate is focussed exclusively on the arts.
- Mavor Moore appointed Chairman.
- The Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrates its 40th anniversary, the National Ballet School its 20th.
- Toronto Symphony Orchestra tours China with Maureen Forrester, André Laplante wins silver medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Ingmar Korjus wins first prize in the International Singing Competition in the Netherlands.
- Council endorses theatre policies which assign priority to Canadian plays, artists and employment of Canadians for senior artistic and administrative positions for publicly funded theatres.
- First National Book Festival.
- Council provides assistance to 90 publishing houses through the block grant program, a further 69 through individual title assistance and supports 900 author readings.
- Mavor Moore notes that there has been no real increase in support of the arts through Council for the past five years. Grants unable to keep pace with inflation while operating costs of arts organizations exceed it. Support to new artists and companies is being seriously curtailed.
- Antonine Maillet wins Prix Goncourt for Pélagie-la-charette.
- Royal Winnipeg dancer Evelyn Hart wins the gold medal at the International Ballet Festival in Varna, Bulgaria.
- Anna Wyman Dance Theatre becomes the first modern dance company in the world to perform in China.
- Introduction of International Translation Grants Program.
- Timothy Porteous appointed Director.
- Summary of Briefs and Hearings of the Appelbaum-Hébert Commission reports that there is widespread agreement that "federal cultural agencies should remain at arm's length from the federal government".
- Parliament approves a $3 million supplement to the 1981-82 grant.
- Jon Kimura Parker wins the Council's first Sylva M. Gelber Prize for classical music students under the age of 30.
- Published drama becomes new category in Governor-General Literary Awards.
- Molson Family Foundation increased value of Molson Prizes from $20,000 to $25,000. Prizes increased from three to four.
- Maureen Forrester appointed Chairman.
- "...the arts need advocacy as well as money." Maureen Forrester - new Chair of the Canada Council.
- Council disbursed $65 million in grants to the arts in fiscal 1983-84.
- Parliament adds a $3 million supplement for 1984-85.
- Establishment of a Media Arts Section.
- Value of Molson Prizes increased to $50,000 for two prizes per year - one in the arts and one in the humanities or social sciences.
- Government's budget speech announces that visual artists will be permitted to write off the costs of their inventories.
- After intense lobbying, the Canada Council, National Arts Centre, CBC and Telefilm Canada excluded from the revisions of the Financial Administration Act, retaining their arm's-length relationship with Parliament.
- The Council begins a grants program for writers of non-fiction.
- Peter Roberts appointed Director.
- Council experiences first reduction in Parliamentary appropriations.
- Minister of Communications transfers a one-time $2.2 million to Council for special projects.
- In February budget, a one time grant of $10 million is allocated to the Council for the 1986-87 fiscal year.
- National forum on Canadian cultural policy held in September in Halifax.
- Government strikes Bovey Commission on the Funding of the Arts.
- Three new prizes are to be administered by Council, the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, the Glenn Gould Prize and the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Scholarship in Choral Conducting.
- Umberto Eco wins the McLuhan Teleglobe Prize and donates it to UNESCO to establish a fund for Italian scholars to study in Canada.
- Prix de Rome (studio in Rome) and a residency in Barcelona introduced in the Architecture program.
- 20th anniversary of the Killam Program and 50th anniversary of the Governor-General's Literary Awards.
- Council receives $3 million to establish and administer a Public Lending Right Commission. $2.7 million is disbursed to over 4,300 writers in the first year of operation.
- February 1988 government announces a special one-time grant of $8 million.
- $4.8 million transfer from the Department of Communications for grants to publishers.
- Petro Canada Award in media arts announced.
- Allan Gotlieb appointed Chairman. Joyce Zemans appointed Director.
- Council undertakes consultations on cultural diversity and interdisciplinary/collaborative arts.
- Policy Review of the Art Bank.
- Council strengthens its role as an advocate in areas such as taxation and copyright.
- Council disburses $93.3 million in grants, payments for services and purchases.
- Celebration of the tenth National Book Festival which incorporated activities in over 700 communities across the country.
- "One-time" grant of $8 million per year for fiscal years 1989-90 and 1990-91 to be added to Parliamentary appropriation.
- Council submits brief to the Standing Committee on Finance regarding the impact of the GST on artists.
- Creation of Racial Equity Committee.
- Council provides grants to over 700 arts organizations throughout the country, with benefits reaching about 60,000 Canadian artists at a cost to Canadians of less than $4 each per year.
- Current Parliamentary appropriation represents a twenty per cent decline in funding after inflation.
- First internship Program developed in response to recommendations from committees on First Peoples issues in the arts and racial equality in the arts.
- Writing and Publishing grants $2 million in assistance to 100 magazines.
- Nearly 2,000 readings organized by the Public Readings Programs.
- Creation of Bell Canada Award in Video Art.
- 4,559 applications received for Arts Awards of which 3, 523 were turned down.
- Thirty-five years after its founding, the Council's assistance has expanded to included 33 orchestras, 197 theatre groups, 35 dance companies and about 100 periodicals.
- Passage of Status of the Artist legislation in Parliament.
- Value of Council grants since 1987, factoring in inflation, have decreased by 30%.
- Paule Leduc appointed Director.
- Council's grants budget reduced by $8.7 million.
- 1992 Molson Prize presented to architect Douglas Cardinal.
- Budget announces planned merger of the Council with Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
- Treasury Board requests Council to reduce administrative costs by $2 million over 2 years. Council to reduce administrative budget by $2.4 million in 1994-95.
- Council moves to multi-year funding in Theatre, Dance and Music.
- Creation of a standing sub-committee on cultural diversity within Council.
- Senate defeats Bill C-93, proposed legislation to merge The Canada Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
- Donna Scott appointed Chairman. Roch Carrier appointed Director.
- Following an eight month review and a sounding of the arts communities, in 17 cities, Council releases its Strategic Plan - A Design for the Future - in March 1995.
- Council's priority: supporting artists and arts organizations for the creation, production or distribution of works of art.
- Council announces a nearly 50 per cent reduction in administrative costs over a three year period.
- Government reduces Board from 21 to 11 members.
- Council to focus on increased advocacy for the arts.
- Art Bank program to be wound up. Advisory Committee established to determine the future of the 18,000 works of art.
- Council establishes a First Peoples Committee on the Arts.
- Parliamentary appropriation reduced by $2 million.
- Staff is reduced by one-third and arts sections are reorganized from 10 to 7.
- Salary costs reduced from $11.7 to $9.1 million.
- Introduction of new matching acquisition assistance program for art museums and public galleries.
- Increased funding for Touring Office and Media Arts Section.
- Resources of Explorations and Arts Awards Programs incorporated within the various disciplinary sections.
- Art Bank annual operating deficit of $2.1 million reduced to $450,000.
- Formation of Canada Council Task Force on Tax Incentives for the Arts, two of whose recommendations are accepted in the 1996 budget.
- Release of the report from the Second Advisory Committee for Racial Equality in the Arts.
- Creation of Endowment and Prizes office.
- Mavis Gallant wins the Molson Prize.
- Launch of Art Bank CD-ROM.
- Resources of the Touring Office are integrated into five disciplinary section - Music, Dance, Theatre, Media Arts and Visual Arts.
- Targeted reduction in administrative costs of almost fifty per cent achieved.
- Implementation of further changes to programs.
- New policy of acknowledgement of the Council's support to highlight public funding for the arts.
- The Canada Council for the Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary
The 40th anniversary celebrations of the Canada Council continue. Over 150 dance companies, orchestras, theatre companies, galleries, media arts groups, literary festivals and arts organizations mark the anniversary. Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax proclaim Canada Council Days.
The Canada Council appoints a First Peoples Program Officer.
The Council distributes the first $25 million of the $125 million in new funds provided by the government for a five-year period.
Shirley L. Thomson, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, is appointed Director of the Canada Council in February 1998.
The Canadian Commission for UNESCO co-ordinates Canadian preparations for the UNESCO Conference on Cultural Policies for Development in Stockholm. Our Creative Diversity, the report of the World Commission on Culture and Development, chaired by Javier Pérez de Cuellar, is debated. Shirley Thomson addresses the conference.
Grants, payments and awards for the year total almost $104 million.
Actor Jean-Louis Roux is appointed Chair of the Council in May 1998.
The Council introduces The Flying Squad, a new program to assist theatres in organizational development.
The Council announces a $10-million Millennium Arts Fund, to fund artistic projects marking the millennium.
The Council hosts the first-ever Aboriginal Arts Conference and organizes Showcases of Culturally Diverse and First Peoples Music in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
The Council launches a new pilot program, Spoken and Electronic Words.
The Inter-Arts program is launched to support interdisciplinary approaches to art.
Over $114 million in grants, payments and awards are disbursed during the year.
The two-year Quest program is launched to provide career development opportunities for a new and culturally-diverse generation of emerging artists.
Inuit sculptor Kiawak Ashoona of Cape Dorset is awarded the $50,000 Molson Prize. The presentation is made by Council Chair Jean-Louis Roux during the first-ever Council visit to Nunavut.
Michael Snow, Jocelyne Alloucherie, Doris Shadbolt, John Chalke, Jacques Giraldeau, John Scott and Ghitta Caiserman-Roth are the first winners of the $15,000 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, funded and administered by the Canada Council.
The Canada Council's Millennium Arts Fund closes its doors: $9.2 million has been distributed to 184 artistic projects, involving hundreds of communities across the country.
The first-ever World Poetry Day is celebrated on March 21; it is a joint undertaking of the National Library, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Council.
The total of grants, payments and awards in 1999-2000 is $114 million. Thirty-eight per cent of artists receiving grants are first-time recipients. Some 20% of total funding is directed in whole or in part to young audiences. (43rd Annual Report)
The Council co-sponors India: The Living Arts at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, an exhibition of works by some 100 Canadian visual and performing artists of South Asian origin.
Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson is awarded the 2000 International Council of Music/ UNESCO Music Award for his contributions to music and human rights. He is nominated by the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
The Council's Musical Instrument Bank holds its largest competition ever, awarding five fine stringed instruments and a cello bow to six young musicians from across the country. Denise Djokic and Annalee Patipatanakoon win the loan of the two most valuable instruments, the Bonjour Stradivari cello and the Windsor-Weinstein Stradivari violin.
The Council sponsors Native to Canada, a showcase for Aboriginal musicians, at the 2000 Worldwide Music Expo (WOMEX) in Berlin. It features Lucie Idlout, Whitefish Jrs., Kanenhi:io, Willie Dunn and Calvin Vollrath.
The Council increases its support to programs and initiatives aimed at young audiences and emerging artists as a result of a $10-million increase in its parliamentary appropriation. One quarter of the total amount goes to 37 orchestras across the country.
Michael Ondaatje, Wajdi Mouawad, Jean Marc Dalpé and Timothy Findley are among the winners of the $15,000 Governor General's Literary Awards for 2000.
The World Summit on the Arts and Culture, organized by the Canada Council, attracts some 300 delegates and observers from 50 countries. An International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies is created, to be chaired by Council Director Shirley Thomson.
The Council creates three Theatre for Young Audience prizes in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
The Council's Flying Squad program of organizational development assistance is extended to dance.
The Public Lending Right Commission celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. Some 13,000 Canadian writers, translators and illustrators receive $8.6 million (for 2000-01) for their books held in public and university libraries.
A total of $117 million in grants, payments and awards is distributed in 2000-01. (44th Annual Report)
The Art Bank acquires 54 new works, its first new purchases since 1995. This is made possible by a break-even position and a successful repurchase program for artists represented in the collection.
An additional $3.5 million in funding for media arts organizations and opera creation is announced.
The federal government announces a three-year boost in Council funding of $75 million, part of a $500-million package of funding to the arts.
Council-supported artists win major international prizes: Zacharias Kunuk wins the best first feature award at the Cannes Film Festival for Atanarjuat; Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller win a special jury prize for The Paradise Institute at the Venice Biennale of contemporary art.
Two new $100,000 Killam prizes are created to honour scholarly achievement in the humanities and the social sciences. They complement existing Killam prizes in the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, bringing the total value of the annual Killam prizes to $500,000.
The Council-supported poetry-in-transit project is extended to Trois-Rivières, Saskatoon and Regina. Some 20 Canadian cities are now displaying Canadian poetry on transit advertising panels, bringing Canadian poetry to some four million commuters daily.
The inaugural Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts (dance, theatre, music) is awarded to veteran choreographer-dancer Brian Macdonald. The prize, created by the Canada Council and philanthropist Walter Carsen, is worth $50,000.