Ontario Artists’ Legal Access & Support Network Presents: “Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists”

“Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists” is a nine-part virtual series based in arts advocacy and community care. Presented by the Ontario Artists’ Legal Access & Support Network and directed by Imani Dominique, this Instagram and TikTok based series aims to inform and empower other artists with tools for self-advocacy. “Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists”,  embodies the spirit of “each one teach one” by pooling and amplifying knowledge from nine incredible Canadian artists: Alicia Reid, Anthony Gebrehiwot, Daej Hamilton, Dequiera Atherton, Gerda Boateng, Kaya Joan, Nala Haileselassie, Pauline Nguyen, and Selina Mccallum. The artists’ practices span across artistic disciplines, including photography, film, woodworking, writing, curation, illustration, motion design, and public art. Throughout the series, the artists share lessons learned, advice for other creatives, and insight into their artistic practices. 

Episode One: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Nala Haileselassie

Just between us, are you a self-taught artist? How have you navigated the art world? What do you wish you knew when you started out? 

We all have moments where we wish we had known better. Regardless of how things turned out, it’s always helpful to share our experiences. By doing so, we can build networks of community care and support. In this video, Nala Haileselassie shares her advice for artists navigating the industry along with some tips for self-teaching. 

Nala Haileselassie is a multidisciplinary artist from Toronto, CA whose practice spans across video, printmaking, and illustration. 

Episode Two: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Daej Hamilton

Just between us, how do you determine the value of your artwork? 

There are often numerous factors to take into consideration when it comes to pricing your work. Knowing your worth takes time but always remember that you should feel intrinsically affirmed by what you decide. Never forget that “your work matters!”. In this video, Daej Hamilton shares her advice for artists when it comes to negotiating your prices. 

Based in Toronto, founder, and principal designer, Daej Hamilton started this company at 22 years old. Luxuriating in her 11th year of woodworking, her pieces reflect the timeless, mid-century, modern aesthetic. Using some of the finest woods, her work is designed and hand crafted to complement form and function. 

Episode Three: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Pauline Nguyen

Just between us, have you heard of the term “informed consent”? What about in the context of creative collaboration and/or labor? If not, this video is for you!

When navigating creative collaborations, it is critical that everyone involved clearly understands the terms of their agreement. This can help reduce the odds of conflict occurring down the road and can ensure that the collaboration runs smoothly. In this video, Pauline Nguyen introduces the concept of “informed consent” and emphasizes its importance when facilitating events and working collaboratively with artists.

Pauline Nguyen’s creative practice is based in 35mm film photography and community/public arts engagement. Much of their ongoing photo work consists of explorations of spacetime, care, and orientations towards the world and others. 

Episode Four: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Anthony Gebrehiwot

Just between us, we’ve all been on the receiving end of a late payment. But what happens when you’re a freelance artist and have yet to receive numerous payments? Anthony Gebrehiwot shares his thoughts on the importance of paying artists on time. 

Anthony Gebrehiwot is an award winning visual artist, photographer and community leader whose creative lens re-visions photography as an ongoing dialogue of social change between subject and society. 

A self-taught artist and photographer, Gebrehiwot founded XvXy-photo in 2014 focusing on studio portraiture. To date, he has worked with several notable brands such as Nike, Royal Bank of Canada, Vice Canada, Absolute, Hudson Bay, The City of Toronto and Linkedin to name a few. His work has been featured in over thirty local and international publications such as the Star, the Globe and Mail, PAPER Magazine, Elle UK and Yahoo Lifestyle.

Episode Five: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Selina Mccallum

Just between us, when working with brands or doing a private commission, it’s important to accurately calculate your artist fee.

An artist fee is the amount of money that you would like to be paid after expenses are covered. However, when numbers start to add up and your overall price begins to escalate, presenting your final quote to a client can feel daunting. How can artists overcome this obstacle? In this video, Selina Mcallum shares advice for determining your artist fee and shares how knowing your worth can be your most valuable negotiation tactic.
Selina McCallum was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario by her Tanzanian mother and Jamaican father. She started her own photography and videography business called Shot By Selina in 2016. Selina graduated from the University of Windsor with a double degree in Digital Journalism and Communications, Media and Film in May 2019. She is currently freelancing in videography and photography as well as enhancing her digital skills by taking an intensive course in VFX.

Episode Six: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Dequiera Atherton

Just between us, have you ever collaborated with another artist? If so, what were some of the things you enjoyed about the experience? Is there anything you would change?

Artist collaborations are an important part of building community and creating incredible work. Creating with other artists can help expand your skillset and your perspective. In this video, Dequiera Atherton shares advice for collaborating with other artists to create amazing work and share experiences.

Dequiera Atherton also known as Cozy DQ is an artist that likes to experiment with different digital mediums. She started off with graphic design, illustration, and then migrated to photography. Now she is currently working on commercial finishing, motion design, and VFX.  

Episode Seven: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Kaya Joan

Just between us, do you know how to establish the grounds of a working relationship? 

Knowing and establishing your boundaries are so important when building relationships. When you  establish parameters for working relationships and have these agreements in writing, you can better enforce your rights and self-advocate down the line. In this video, Kaya Joan shares advice for navigating unfair power dynamics and trusting your intuition. 

Kaya Joan is a multi-disciplinary Afro-Indigenous (Vincentian, Kanien’kehá:ka with relations from Kahnawá:ke, Irish, Jamaican) artist born, raised and living in T’karonto, Dish with One Spoon treaty territory. Kaya’s work focuses on relationship to place and storytelling. Black and Indigenous futurity are also centered in Kaya’s practice, framing methods of making as ancestral tools to unpack and transform buried truths, opening portals 7 generations into the past and future. Kaya has been working in community arts for 7 years as a facilitator and artist, and is a member of Milkweed Collective. 

Episode Eight: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Alicia Reid

Just between us, have you ever used a photo release form?

When sharing work that uses the likeness of another individual, it’s necessary to use a photo release form, media release, or model release agreement. These forms allow you to use their image in your artwork and protects you from potential legal issues in the future. If you would like to create a release form, we encourage you to visit carfacontario.ca to find contract templates. In this video, Alicia Reid shares when and why you should  create a photo release form.

Alicia Reid is a Jamaican-Canadian Prize-winning photographer and aspiring filmmaker based in Toronto. Born and raised in Scarborough, her work is inspired by Caribbean and Toronto culture as she loves sharing moments that highlight people of colour. Specializing in events and concert photography, she has been doing photography for over 5 years and has been featured on media outlets including the Toronto Star, Global News and Complex Music. Her purpose as an artist is to create a positive outlook to be shown in the city especially towards people in marginalized communities and her goal is to continue to change the narrative of places in the city that are often misrepresented.

Episode Nine: Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists with Gerda Boateng

Just between us, how do you protect your artwork?

When creating and sharing your work, it is so important to ensure that you are protected. While your rights to your work are already protected through Canadian copyright laws, it can be difficult to protect your work from digital theft. Watermarks and signatures, and logos are great ways to let people know that you own your work. If you would like to learn more about copyright and other forms of artistic protection, we encourage you to visit carfacontario.ca.

In this video, Gerda Boateng shares valuable tips for protecting your artwork from theft. Gerda Boateng is a Ghanaian Canadian, multi-disciplinary creative. The goal of her work is to showcase unconventional standards of beauty. More specifically, to show women of colour they are art too.  With her Bachelors in Design from OCAD university Gerda has a thorough understanding of how consumers think in regards to brands, products, and art. Gerda’s Mission is to continue to move the conversation of representation forward by designing creative concepts, showing that the idea of beauty is way more than skin deep. She hopes to motivate people to look at themselves as art, and inspire them to truly love themselves from the inside out!

“Just Between Us: Advice For Artists by Artists” premiered on August 11, 2022 via Instagram and TikTok. Since its initial release, it has reached thousands of people across platforms. Each One Teach One.

The Ontario Artists’ Legal Access & Support Network is a collaboration between CARFAC Ontario artists and ALAS (Artists’ Legal Advice Services) lawyers. This collaboration has been formed to provide free legal advice and information, non-legal peer support, and resources for artists related to their practices, particularly artists who lack access to these kinds of support because of overlapping systemic barriers such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, and/or misogyny. CARFAC Ontario is dedicated to promoting the wellbeing of  Ontario’s visual artists, and advancing the visual arts as a practice. ALAS (Artists’ Legal Advice Services) provides free summary legal advice and information to creators living in Ontario, Canada. With services spanning from contract templates to drop-in legal clinics, both organizations work to create and disseminate legal resources for artists. 

Imani Dominique Busby is an independent curator and visual artist based in Toronto. She is presently studying Creative Industries at Toronto Metropolitan University. She aspires to become a curator and art lawyer with the goal of supporting marginalized artists as they navigate the art industry. With roots in creativity and entrepreneurship,  Imani is passionate about the art and fashion industries, representation, and community building.

“Just Between Us: Advice for Artists by Artists” was funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, The Law Foundation of Ontario, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council

PASO-OPSA Coalition Identifies Provincial Arts & Culture Policy Priorities | La coalition PASO-OPSA identifie les priorités en matière de politique artistique et culturelle

CARFAC Ontario is a member of Provincial Arts Service Organizations/Organisations Provinciale de Services aux Arts de l’Ontario (PASO-OPSA), a coalition of Ontario Arts Service Organizations that, collectively, acts as a conduit to over 272,000 creative workers, and artists across the province, as well as to thousands of organizations, large and small, that create and support artistic expression in Ontario.

The coalition has collectively identified key priorities for Ontario’s arts sector around which it is aligned, and will champion, as we move though the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, PASO-OPSA recommends that the Government of Ontario:

1. Commit to Truth and Reconciliation in arts and culture.

The Government of Ontario should establish a permanent $10 million annual fund for Indigenous artists, cultural leaders, organizations, groups and collectives that is designed and managed by Indigenous artists.

2. Increase investment in the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).

Funding for the OAC has fallen dangerously behind the growth of the sector. When inflation and population growth are taken into account, to simply keep in line with 1991 investment levels, the OAC requires a permanent base budget of $110 million in 2022. In 2021, the OAC’s base budget was $60 million

3. Embrace the role of the arts in a range of areas of provincial jurisdiction, and facilitate connections between ministries to accomplish this.

The Government of Ontario should leverage the powerful creative and innovation assets of Ontario’s arts community by acknowledging its contributions to, and ability to advance, fields such as health, mental health, education, entrepreneurship, and to engage with other sectors to address crises such as systemic racism, and others.

4. Ensure that anti-racism, and principles of fairness and justice, are embedded in all provincial programs and services.

This includes: recognizing that artists who identify as members of equity-seeking groups, as well as grassroots arts initiatives, have disproportionately faced systemic barriers to accessing support, and require low-barrier and accessible funding; working in partnership with arts organizations to hear and learn from smaller grassroots arts and cultural initiatives with the intention of informing the development of province’s arts and cultural priorities and policies. The next Government of Ontario can ensure the Ontario Human Rights Code is being upheld by evaluating the systemic barriers and exclusions that exist in, and may be perpetuated by, its investments and programs.

5. Foster the advancement of young people to participate, and provide vision and leadership in the arts.

This includes: mentorship opportunities for new-generation artists and cultural leaders, intergenerational connections between established and emerging arts leaders; supporting connections between grassroots groups and major institutions that encourage learning and transformation for all participants.

6. Work towards reducing Ontario’s carbon emissions and environmental impact.

The Government of Ontario should acknowledge that reducing emissions requires not only policy and legislation, but large-scale cultural and paradigm shifts by investing in cross-sectoral collaborations between the arts sector and Indigenous communities, climate researchers, social and behavioural scientists, industry leaders, organizations advancing awareness of environmental issues, and others. This also includes supporting the arts and culture sector to research, design, and implement sustainable and energy efficient venues and buildings; and develop strategies for sustainable touring and large-scale production.

7. Recognize the need for, and current lack of, appropriate physical and digital infrastructure.

This includes: establishing a permanent funding program to support renovations, capital projects, and new builds for arts and culture organizations. This program should also provide grants for organizations and smaller groups to support short term access to space, support the capacity of organizations to digitize collections and present digitally, and support upskilling and training. The government must also address the lack of broadband internet access which disproportionately impacts Northern Ontario communities.

8. Increase investment in arts education in Ontario’s publicly-funded schools.

The Government of Ontario should engage arts sector stakeholders to maintain, design, and update curricula that is contemporary and relevant to Ontario’s diverse population, and ensure sufficient physical and human resources are in place to deliver them. It should also investigate the current disparities in publicly-funded specialized arts schools, and ensure equitable access for racialized students and students from low-income households.

9. Amplify the majority of Ontarians’ voices by working toward a Federal Basic Income Guarantee.

This includes: advocating and working with the Federal Government on the development and implementation of a Basic Income Guarantee; shifting existing provincial income support systems toward Basic Income principles that require less conditionality and provide recipients with more autonomy; implement an Ontario Basic Income demonstration program targeting low-income artists, gig-workers, and other precariously employed Ontarians for inclusion.

We are available to provide additional details on each of this recommendations, and we encourage the Government of Ontario to work in concert with PASO/OPSA members to envision the path forward for Ontario’s vibrant arts community.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Samilski, Managing Director, CARFAC Ontario | jason@carfacontario.ca

PASO/OPSA Coalition Members

Alliance culturelle de l‘Ontario

Artist-Run Centres & Collectives of Ontario (ARCCO)

ArtsBuild Ontario

Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français

Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM)

Association for Opera in Canada

Bureau des regroupements des artistes visuels de l’Ontario (BRAVO)

Canadian Alliance of Artists – East Chapter

Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC Ontario)

Canadian Music Centre

Choirs Ontario

Craft Ontario

Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO)

Dance Ontario

Dance Umbrella of Ontario

Directors Guild of Canada (Ontario)

Folk Music Ontario

FUSION – The Ontario Clay and Glass Association

Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG)

Ontario Culture Days

Ontario Presents

The Association for Opera in Canada (Opera.ca)

Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada

Réseau Ontario

Théâtre Action

Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA)

WorkInCulture

_________________________________________

CARFAC Ontario est membre de Provincial Arts Service Organizations of Ontario/Organisations Provinciale de Services aux Arts de l’Ontario (PASO/OPSA), une coalition d’organismes de services aux arts de l’Ontario qui, collectivement, agit comme intermédiaire pour plus de plus de 272 000 travailleurs créatifs et artistes à travers la province, ainsi que des milliers d’organismes, petits et grands, qui créent et soutiennent l’expression artistique en Ontario.

La coalition a collectivement identifié des priorités clés pour le secteur des arts de l’Ontario, autour desquelles elle s’aligne et qu’elle soutiendra activement au fur et à mesure que nous progressons dans la pandémie de la COVID-19. Ainsi, la PASO-OPSA recommande au gouvernement de l’Ontario de:

1. S’engager en faveur de la vérité et réconciliation dans les arts et la culture.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait créer un fonds annuel permanent de 10 millions de dollars pour les artistes, les leaders culturels, les organisations, les groupes et les collectifs Autochtones, conçu et géré par des artistes Autochtones.

2. Augmenter l’investissement dans le Conseil des arts de l’Ontario (CAO).

Le financement du CAO a dangereusement pris du retard par rapport à la croissance du secteur. Si l’on tient compte de l’inflation et de la croissance de la population, pour simplement demeurer au niveau d’investissement de 1991, le CAO nécessite un budget de base permanent de 110 millions de dollars en 2022. En 2021, le budget de base de la CAO était de 60 millions de dollars

3. Reconnaître le rôle des arts dans de nombreux domaines de compétence provinciale et faciliter les échanges inter-ministériels à cette fin.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait mettre à profit les atouts considérables de la communauté artistique de l’Ontario en matière de création et d’innovation en reconnaissant sa capacité et ses contributions à l’avancement des domaines tels que la santé, la santé mentale, l’éducation et l’entrepreneuriat, et faire appel à la collaboration entre secteurs pour résoudre des problématiques telles que le racisme systémique, entre autres.

4. S’assurer que l’antiracisme et les principes d’équité et de justice sont intégrés dans tous les programmes et services provinciaux.

Cela comprend : la reconnaissance du fait que les artistes qui s’identifient comme membres de groupes marginalisés, ainsi que les programmes artistiques communautaires, ont été confrontés de façon disproportionnée à des obstacles systémiques à l’accès au soutien, et nécessitent un financement plus accessible et à faible barrière. Le gouvernement doit travailler en partenariat avec des organismes artistiques afin d’apprendre des plus petites organisations communautaires et culturelles dans le but d’informer le développement des priorités et des politiques artistiques et culturelles de la province. Le prochain gouvernement de l’Ontario peut s’assurer que le Code des droits de la personne de l’Ontario est respecté en évaluant les obstacles et les exclusions systémiques qui existent dans ses investissements et ses programmes et qui peuvent être perpétués par ceux-ci.

5. Favoriser l’avancement des jeunes afin qu’ils puissent contribuer et offrir un nouveau point de vue et du leadership dans les arts.

Cela comprend : des possibilités de mentorat pour les artistes et les leaders culturels de la nouvelle génération, des contacts intergénérationnels entre les leaders artistiques établis et émergents, le soutien des échanges entre les groupes communautaires et les grandes institutions qui encouragent l’apprentissage et la valorisation de tous les participants.

6. Travailler à la réduction des émissions de carbone et de l’impact environnemental de l’Ontario.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait reconnaître que la réduction des émissions nécessite non seulement des politiques et des lois, mais aussi des changements culturels et paradigmatiques à grande échelle, en investissant dans des collaborations entre le secteur des arts et les communautés Autochtones, les chercheurs en matière de changements climatiques, les sociologues et les spécialistes du comportement, les chefs de file de l’industrie, les organismes de sensibilisation aux enjeux environnementaux, etc. Il est également important de soutenir le secteur des arts et de la culture dans la recherche, la conception et la mise en œuvre de lieux et de bâtiments durables et écoénergétiques, et d’élaborer des stratégies de tournée et de production à grande échelle durables.

7. Reconnaître la nécessité et l’absence actuelle d’une infrastructure physique et numérique adéquate.

Cela comprend : l’établissement d’un programme de financement permanent pour soutenir les rénovations, les projets d’immobilisations et les nouvelles constructions des organismes artistiques et culturels. Ce programme devrait également recevoir des subventions pour les plus petits organismes afin de faciliter l’accès à court terme à des bureaux, de soutenir la capacité des organismes à numériser leurs collections et à les présenter sous forme numérique, et de soutenir la formation et le développement professionnel. Le gouvernement doit également s’attaquer au manque d’accès à l’Internet à haute vitesse qui a un impact disproportionné sur les communautés du Nord de l’Ontario.

8. Investir davantage dans l’éducation artistique dans les écoles financées par les fonds publics de l’Ontario.

Le gouvernement de l’Ontario devrait faire appel aux intervenants du secteur des arts pour maintenir, concevoir et mettre à jour des programmes d’études contemporains qui tiennent compte de la population très diversifiée de l’Ontario, et s’assurer que des ressources physiques et humaines suffisantes sont en place pour les offrir. Il devrait également enquêter sur les disparités qui existent actuellement dans les écoles d’arts spécialisées financées par les fonds publics, et veiller à ce que les élèves appartenant à des groupes marginalisés et aux ménages à faible revenu y aient un accès équitable.

9. Supporter la majorité des Ontariens en travaillant à la mise en place d’un revenu de base garanti fédéral.

Cela comprend : plaider et travailler avec le gouvernement fédéral sur le développement et la mise en œuvre d’une garantie de revenu de base ; faire évoluer les systèmes provinciaux de soutien au revenu existants vers les principes du revenu de base nécessitant moins de conditions et offrant plus d’autonomie aux bénéficiaires ; mettre en œuvre un projet pilote du revenu de base en Ontario ciblant les artistes à faible revenu, les travailleurs autonomes et d’autres Ontariens à l’emploi précaire pour les inclure.

Nous sommes disponibles pour vous fournir plus de détails sur chacune de ces recommandations, et nous encourageons le gouvernement de l’Ontario à travailler de concert avec les membres de la PASO/OPSA pour envisager la voie à suivre pour la communauté artistique dynamique de l’Ontario.

Pour plus d’informations, veuillez contacter: jason@carfacontario.ca 

Membres de la coalition PASO/OPSA

Alliance culturelle de l’Ontario
Centres et collectifs d’artistes autogérés de l’Ontario (ARCCO)
ArtsBuild Ontario
Association des auteures et auteurs de l’Ontario français
Association des professionnels de la chanson et de la musique (APCM)
Association pour l’opéra au Canada
Bureau des regroupements des artistes visuels de l’Ontario (BRAVO)
Alliance canadienne des artistes – Chapitre de l’Est
Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC Ontario)
Centre de musique canadienne
Choirs Ontario
Craft Ontario
Pluralisme culturel dans le mouvement artistique Ontario (CPAMO)
Dance Ontario
Dance Umbrella of Ontario (en anglais seulement)
Guilde canadienne des réalisateurs (Ontario)
Folk Music Ontario
FUSION – L’Association ontarienne de l’argile et du verre
Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries (GOG)
Fête de la culture de l’Ontario
Ontario Presents
L’Association pour l’opéra au Canada (Opera.ca)
Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada
Réseau Ontario
Théâtre Action
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) (en anglais seulement)
WorkInCulture

ODSP & ARTS GRANTS 101

This ODSP & ARTS GRANTS 101 document, compiled in March 2022, has been created by Pro Bono Students Canada volunteers from the Lincoln Alexander School of Law chapter and CARFAC Ontario. It is our intention to provide accessible information to those who may need it, in relation to ODSP qualification requirements and arts grants.

To download the document, click here.

We’ve created an audio-visual version for accessibility, that can be found here.

Recommendations for Ontario’s 2022 Budget

In January 2022, CARFAC Ontario submitted to the Government of Ontario’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs a series of recommendations for arts and culture investments for the upcoming 2022 Budget:

1. Increase the Ontario Arts Council’s (OAC) base budget to $95 million annually.

2. Establish a permanent $10 million fund to support Indigenous artists, cultural leaders, organizations, groups and collectives.

3. Maximize the value of any additional arts investments (through strategizing delivery, increasing consultation, as well as allocating commitments made in Budget 2021)

4. Amplify the majority of Ontarians’ voices by working toward a Federal Basic Income Guarantee.

For more detail and rationale on each of these recommendations, please click here to read the full brief.

COVID-19 Benefits Survey

The COVID-19 Pandemic has profoundly impacted the arts sector, and CARFAC appreciates the Federal Government’s commitment to help artists through this challenging time. The Canada Recovery Benefit expired on October 23rd. Last week, we urged the Government of Canada to extend the CRB benefit, to ensure that Canadian artists will not be left behind.

Unfortunately, the government confirmed that the CRB will expire and it will be replaced by the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which is limited to regions under government-imposed lockdowns. This solution does not take into consideration the working realities of most artists, and the closures that may not necessarily be government-imposed.

We encourage visual artists to complete this very short survey to help us better understand what cancelling the CRB means for our community.

We also urge the Federal Government to find a long-term social safety net for our sector. We fully support the implementation of a Guaranteed Basic Income program, and we also believe that CERB and CRB have set a useful precedent for Employment Insurance reform. CARFAC submitted a brief on EI reform, and we look forward to further consultations about how to modernize EI in ways that make the program relevant to the realities of artists.

Modernizing Canada’s Employment Insurance program

A social safety net for self-employed artists and gig workers

A modernized EI program that takes into account these unique labour circumstances is critical not only for the wellbeing of Canada’s artists, but for the sustainability and growth of the sector overall. It must be understood that not all artists may need this kind of support, and it is designed to help people when and if they need it. For some, that need may be seasonal or when they have a bad sales year, for example. Without it, we are at great risk of losing artists to other sectors, and without individual artists our most celebrated cultural institutions, festivals, and organizations would cease to exist. As such, a new EI program should:

  • Insure income, not employment
  • Be accessible to freelance and gig workers, and workers with mixed-employment
  • Be available to those demonstrating a modest level of prior income (i.e. $5,000 in the previous year), and be available without prior individual contribution to the program
  • Act as an effective safety net by providing unemployed, underemployed, and precariously employed workers with income support of $2,000/month. Payment amounts should not increase nor decrease based on the level of the EI recipient’s prior income; this practice perpetuates multiple inequalities experienced by the most vulnerable
  • Include a tax deduction of 10% at source, to avoid confusion about whether or not it is taxable income, and with the understanding that individuals may be required to pay more (or less), depending on their personal situation
  • Encourage recipients to develop and earn employment or self-employment income by allowing for reasonable monthly earnings (i.e $1000) before reducing EI payments.

Modernizing the Employment Insurance program is an essential step in acknowledging and addressing the income precarity disproportionately experienced by artists and cultural workers. Most self-employed and contract-based workers in the arts sector cannot afford to pay into the current EI model.As workers in other sectors return to their jobs, the income potential of artists and gig workers remain highly unstable, particularly as the arts and tourism sectors are expected to take the longest to recover from the impacts of COVID-19. It is estimated that full recovery may not happen until 2028, if ever. Without a modernized support program that acknowledges the realities of labour in the arts and culture sector, many will be pushed to social assistance, and further into poverty, which decreases their chances for positive economic, social, and health outcomes, and is ultimately more expensive in the long-term (i.e., increased public health care costs associated with poverty).

A modernized program that ensures income, and not employment will also address equity, access, diversity, and inclusion in the arts sector, specifically for Canadians who are low-income, and those emerging from intergenerational poverty.

The full brief is available here.

Open letter: Canadian artists urgently need a social safety net

October 19, 2021

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

The Hon. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Re: Canadian artists urgently need a social safety net

Dear Ministers,

As we are still experiencing a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian artists urge the Federal Government to extend emergency income support for self-employed and gig workers, with a view to finding a long-term social safety net for our sector.

We applaud the Government’s leadership in working with us to best support self-employed workers with the introduction of Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Recovery Benefit during this very difficult time. This support has been a lifeline for many cultural workers, and we appreciate the Government’s commitment to help artists and the cultural industries recover, because as you know: we were among the first to close and we will be among the last to recover. Beyond recovery, we welcome the opportunity to consult with you about much needed reform to Employment Insurance programs, which are often out of reach for self-employed artists when they need it most.

The Liberal Party’s platform includes commitments to implement a transitional support program for out-of-work self-employed artists, and to hold a summit within 100 days to discuss restarting our industry. Meanwhile, 750,000 Canadians are still receiving much needed support from the Canada Recovery Benefit, which is set to expire in just a few days, without that transition plan in place.

Some of them are our members, and we know they cannot wait 100 days to begin discussions about recovery without that support, and so we urge you to extend the CRB until an alternative option is in place.

We hope we can count on the Government of Canada to make this adjustment and ensure that Canadian artists will not be left behind.

Signed,

Paddy Lamb, National President of CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation) 

Eleanor Noble, ACTRA National President

David Farsi, Président du Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV)

Rhea Tregebov, Chair of the Writers Union of Canada

Sasha Sobrino, General Manager, Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators

Cc: Rebecca Caldwell, Director of Policy, Canadian Heritage

Irene Cheung, Senior Policy Advisor, Canadian Heritage

Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts

Visual Artists and the 2021 Federal Election


Election day is September 20th, and the next Canadian Government must commit to ensuring that Canada’s artists, and all Canadians who are impacted by precarious work, are able to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and be positioned to flourish in the future. 

Members of all parties use language such as “build back better”; now, we must ensure that this language translates into action. There are many issues impacting visual artists, and the larger arts and culture sector, and many policy and economic changes that must be put in place. 

We urge artists to familiarize themselves with the parties’ positions on arts and culture.The Canadian Arts Coalition has prepared a summary of arts and culture commitments from the leading federal political parties, and has invited members of the leading parties to respond to a set of questions through video statements.  Please click here to learn more, and watch the video responses.

Debate on Culture 2021 | September 13th, 12 – 1:30 p.m.

The Coalition for Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CDCE) and the Department of Communication of the Universite de Montreal will present a debate on cultural issues featuring members of the leading federal parties: 

  • Steven Guilbeault (Liberal Party)
  • Steve Shanahan (Conservative Party)
  • Martin Champoux (Bloc Québécois)
  • Alexandre Boulerice (NDP)
  • Mathieu Goyette (Green Party)

The debate will be broadcast live on CPAC’s websitePlease note that the debate will be conducted in French, and an English translation will be available.  

To ask a question during the debate:

  1. Twitter: use the hashtag #CultureElxn44
  2. Facebook: post your question on the event’s Facebook page.
SNAPSHOT OF VISUAL ARTISTS IN CANADA

Primarily self-employed, visual, media, and craft-based artists derive income through various revenue streams. It is extremely rare for a single source of revenue to provide enough income to live on. It is a common practice for artists to occupy several roles, including but not limited to: creation, sales, instruction, mentorship, consultancy, speaking, curation, writing, and working for art institutions and organizations. This leads to a mixture of royalties and fees paid, sales, and wages from additional part-time jobs, such as teaching in universities or working for galleries. Many artists and cultural workers supplement their arts incomes with labour in other sectors, which often involves low-paid and/or precarious gig-work.  

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
VOTE

Information on how to vote in 2021 can be found here.  

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Elevate issues important to you, your practice, and your community. Connect with the Federal party leaders: 

On Twitter: 

Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party) 

Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party of Canada)

Annamie Paul (Green Party of Canada)

Erin O’Toole (Conservative Party of Canada) 

Yves-Francois Blanchet (Bloc Quebecois) 

And tag us @carfacnational and @carfacontario

On Instagram: 

Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party) 

Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party of Canada)

Annamie Paul (Green Party of Canada)

Erin O’Toole (Conservative Party of Canada) 

Yves-Francois Blanchet (Bloc Quebecois) 

Use the hashtags:#ArtsVote #votezarts #Elxn44 #cdnpoli 

ASK QUESTIONS. 

Questions you can ask your local candidates (candidates for each riding can be found using this search tool): 

To survive the economic impact of the pandemic, Canadian artists require an extension of the Canada Recovery Benefit. Do you support an extension of this program? 

How will you address gaps in the Employment Insurance program to ensure self-employed and gig-workers, and low-income Canadians, are supported? 

All Canadians will benefit from a Basic Income Guarantee. Will your party commit to studying effective ways to design and implement such a program?

Is your party committed to increasing equity and inclusion in the arts sector? If so, how? 

Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, 2022 Pre-Budget Consultations

Primarily self-employed, visual, media, and craft-based artists derive income through various revenue streams. It is extremely rare for a single source of revenue to provide enough income to live on. It is a common practice for artists to occupy several roles, including but not limited to: creation, sales, instruction, mentorship, consultancy, speaking, curation, writing, and working for art institutions and organizations. This leads to a mixture of royalties and fees paid, sales, and wages from additional part-time jobs, such as teaching in universities or working for galleries. Many artists and cultural workers supplement their arts incomes with labour in other sectors, which often involves low-paid and/or precarious gig-work.

– According to 2016 Census data, there are 726,600 cultural workers, representing 4% of the overall labour force. This includes over 158,000 artists living and working in Canada, representing more workers than in automotive manufacturing and utilities;

– The median income of Canadian visual artists is $20,000, which is 54% lower than the median income of all workers. 66% of Canadian visual artists are self-employed, compared to only 12% of all Canadian workers;

– Of the 21,100 visual artists in Canada,16% of visual artists are Indigenous, Black, or racialized. Indigenous, Black, and racialized artists are underrepresented within Canadian cultural institutions both as presenting artists, and within executive management positions and boards. Meanwhile COVID-19 transmission has disproportionately impacted Black, racialized, and low-income communities;

– The 2016 Census revealed that Indigenous, Black, and other racialized artists earn significantly less income than their non-Indigenous/non-racialized counterparts. Indigenous, and Black and racialized artists earn a median income of 68 cents and 72 cents, respectively, for every $1 for non-Indigenous/Black/racialized artists.

Overview of recommendations
We support the recommendations made by the Canadian Arts Coalition, and the recommendations made by Galeries Ontario/Ontario Galleries.  Additionally, we recommend that the Federal Government:

1. Modernize the Employment Insurance program;

2. Advance the Canada Council for the Arts’ 2021-26 Strategic Plan by investing $2M for the creation of a high-access Micro-Grant program for artists;

3. Create a new program at Canadian Heritage to encourage and support entrepreneurship among visual artists;

4. Amend the Copyright Act to include an Artist’s Resale Right as an economic marketplace solution for individual artists.

Read the full brief.