Tag Archive | "Robert Sirman"

Canada Council Update

Canada Council Update

Each year, the Canada Council invites national arts service organization leaders to Ottawa for an annual face-to-face meeting; and this year, the meeting took place October 20 and 21, with well over 50 executive directors from media arts, writing and publishing, performing arts and visual arts service organizations meeting in the nation’s capital. Arts service organizations in music (including Orchestras Canada) had the opportunity for a focused meeting with Aimé Dontigny, the head of the Music section. And the entire group had the chance to discuss the current environment, receive updates on the Canada Council’s activities and plans, and share our own organizations’ initiatives, collaborations, failures, and successes.

Aimé Dontigny provided some thoughts on the cross-country consultation sessions that Music section staff have undertaken since September, and outlined the next steps in the review of operating programs. These include:

End of October: Conclude the face to face consultations with a session in Calgary
November: Undertake Webex consultations with stakeholders in communities not included in the tour
February: Issue a report on the geographic consultations (which will be made available to the community)
Fall 2014: Start “subdiscipline” consultations, including one with representatives from the orchestral community
Jan 2015: Issue draft program guidelines for new programs, with a generous allocation of time for feedback
June 2015: Announce new programs of support in music

Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council provided updates on Council’s activities in program review, public engagement, building internal capacity, and the upcoming leadership transition. (Mr. Sirman will be stepping down in June 2014; a search for his successor is now underway.) New Head of Arts Disciplines, Roger Gaudet, and Writing and Publishing officer Carole Boucher (who steered the consultation process and the development of the new program), presented a high-level overview of the results of the Flying Squad program review and the new Leadership for Change program, publicly announced on October 23. You can find details on the new program, here.

Currently, 80% of Council’s programs are undergoing review—and of that 80%, 2/3 are operating programs, including the operating programs in Music.

The Council has also launched a new International Market Access page with resources, grant
information and policy framework documents. You can find the portal here.

Public engagement continues to be a central concern for the Canada Council. CEO Robert Sirman explained that for many years, both Council and the community have expressed Council’s mandate as “support to artists.” With the new focus on public engagement, Sirman suggests that the mandate is, in fact, “to support artists because the public needs art.” At the same time, he was quick to clarify that this clarified message is intended to situate the Council as providing public value through funding the arts: it does not signal a shift away from a focus on professional arts practice.

Sirman also highlighted plans for additional research, review and analysis about current arts practice in Canada, as well as “foresighting” future arts practice. As part of this focus on research, attendees heard the results of a survey done by CADAC staff during the summer months. We learned that, while most respondents were “satisfied or very satisfied”
with the financial forms, the statistical forms were deemed far less satisfactory. And, an overwhelming number of organizations responded that they were unaware of the report function or had found it unsatisfactory as a research tool. It was good to hear that the survey results are being taken very seriously, and changes are already in the works.

Finally, we were reminded that Canada Council will have a new Ottawa home in December. Located at 150 Elgin Street, the design of the new space is intended to better reflect the Canada Council’s relationship with the arts community and the broader public, while reducing the organization’s operating costs and carbon footprint, and encouraging collaborative working practices. The building will have an official housewarming during the Council’s Annual Public Meeting, this year scheduled for January 28, 2014.

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The Canada Council for the Arts has announced the appointment of Roger Gaudet as the new Director, Arts Disciplines Division at the Council, effective October 15, 2013. He succeeds Anne Valois, who is leaving Council after 27 years—the last three in this role. He, too, is a Council veteran, with over 16 years of experience working in the Theatre section, most recently as Head. Mr. Gaudet will work closely with colleagues at Council on operating funding program changes, among other responsibilities.

The Canada Council for the Arts has reappointed Board Chair Joseph L. Rotman for another five year term. Speaking about the reappointment, Council Director and CEO Robert Sirman said, “Mr. Rotman’s deep understanding of best practices in business and management are enormous assets to the Council. His dedication to ensuring that Canadians have access to a vital and diverse arts sector is invaluable. The big changes to which the Council aspires take time, and Mr. Rotman’s reappointment will help ground the important work already underway on program renewal and public engagement. I am delighted we will be able to continue to count on his wisdom and support.”

Hearty congratulations to the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra’s resident conductor, Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, who was recently awarded the Jean-Marie Beaudet prize by the Canada Council for the Arts. Worth $1,000, the Jean-Marie Beaudet Award is given annually to a young Canadian conductor as recommended by the Grant to Professional Musicians Peer Assessment Committee for the March 1st deadline. Eligible candidates are selected by the Music Section from among the resident or staff conductors with Canadian orchestras. To learn more about Mr. Bartholomew-Poyser, please visit bartholomewpoyser.com.

The Canada Council Michael Measures Prize has been awarded to 19-year-old violinist Blake Pouliot, a Toronto native who’s currently studying at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Launched in September 2010 through a partnership with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (NYOC), the prize will provide Mr. Pouliot with $15,000 to help continue to build his musical career, already off to a promising start. To learn more about Mr. Pouliot, please visit canadacouncil.ca.

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The Canada Council has announced that the 2012 Virginia Parker Prize has been awarded to young countertenor Daniel Cabena. The award is for Canadian classical musicians under the age of 32 who demonstrate outstanding talent and musicianship. “Daniel Cabena is part of a new generation of artists helping to put Canada on the world stage,” said Robert Sirman, Canada Council Director and CEO. “The Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Prize recognizes Daniel’s achievements as a singer of great expressive power and will help to assure the brilliant career that lies ahead.”

The Orchestre symphonique de Laval has announced the departure of general director Alain Demers, after a successful 5 year tenure with the orchestra.  Alain is taking on a new role with the Fondation Cité de la santé de Laval.

The Montréal International Music Competition has announced the winners of its 2012 competition, this year for voice. The overall winner was Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly; for more information on the other winners, please visit concoursmontreal.ca.

Montréal’s Orchestre Metropolitain has announced the appointment of Jean R. Dupré as its new President and CEO, succeeding Mme Luce Moreau. No stranger to the not for profit world, M. Dupré has been part of both Speed Skating Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee. Speaking about his appointment, he noted, “joining an organization, like this orchestra, that has attained a level of excellence is truly an honour, since I’ve spent my whole career building, cultivating and maintaining excellence.”

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Montréal, nous t’aimons

Montréal, nous t’aimons

Between Sunday, May 27 and Tuesday, May 29, over ninety people representing Canadian orchestras from St. John’s NF to Nanaimo BC gathered in Montréal for Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada’s national orchestra meetings – 48 hours of concentrated learning, peer exchange and artistic appreciation. The event was co-hosted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management at HEC Montréal, and – between the generosity and formidable resources of our hosts, the hospitality shown to us by the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres de Québec (CALQ) and the Conseil des Arts de Montréal, the consistently high standard of the presentations, the transparency and power of the OSM’s sound in the new Maison symphonique, the generosity of our partners in government, corporate sponsors, and foundation and individual donors, the sheer fascination exerted by our host city, and the reliable joy of once again sharing the air with true colleagues – a splendid time was had by all.

Many of the sessions were recorded, and over the coming weeks, OC’s summer student Mike Romaniak will be editing the recordings, synching them to the PowerPoint slides, and posting them on OC’s YouTube channel. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest!

While many, many people went beyond the call of duty in making all of this possible, Orchestras Canada/Orchestres Canada particularly wants to recognize:

The team at the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal – Mmes Madeleine Careau and Melanie La Couture, and – of course – Maestro Kent Nagano, whose presentation to the group on Tuesday morning was a highlight

The faculty and staff of the Chair in Arts Management at HEC Montréal, with particular thanks to Francois Colbert, Holder of the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management, who generously supported our quest to partner with HEC Montréal on the conference, and Dr. Wendy Reid, who invested untold hours to ensure that our program was rich in intellectual content, that we heard about HEC faculty’s latest research on relevant topics, and that our dealings with the school were pleasant in all ways.

Our guest speakers: Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies Research; Dr. Robert Flanagan, professor of Labour Economics at Stanford University; Bob Fraser, bass trombonist of the Victoria Symphony and secretary of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians; Stephen Huddart, CEO of the J.W. McConnell Foundation; Robert Sirman, director of the Canada Council for the Arts; Maestro Kent Nagano; Kelly Rice of CBC Radio; and breakout session guests Denise Ball, Robert Rowat and Steve Pratt from CBC; Frédéric Massé, Heenan Blaikie, Labour and Employment Law Group; and Cossette Communications.

Members of our group who led or facilitated break-out sessions for their peers: Trudy Schroeder, Erika Beatty, Vicki Young, Leanne Davis, Mitchell Krieger, Marie-Anne Perreault, Elizabeth Aman-Hume.

Volunteers from HEC Montréal, who assisted with everything from package stuffing to registration to note taking.

A particular feature this year was a parallel gathering for education and community engagement staff of Canadian orchestras, made possible by a visionary foundation partner. This intrepid group met for a day and a half for a program that explored such topics as diverse audiences, using technology to further orchestra’s music education programs, collaborations and partnerships, evaluation, and network development. This part of the program was designed and facilitated by Dr. Diana Dansereau, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Boston University, and it featured guests from a range of artistic disciplines. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working through some of the implications of the meeting, including the all-important work of building on the nascent network that started so well in Montréal.

Finally, a word of thanks to the funders and sponsors who made it all possible:

Canada Council for the Arts
Department of Canadian Heritage
An anonymous foundation donor
Great West Life – London Life – Canada Life
Dr. George Freundlich
Coffee break sponsors: Agence Station Bleue, L’Arsenal à Musique, Cowan Insurance, Domoney Artists Management, Long and McQuade

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Orchestras Canada’s National Meetings

Orchestras Canada’s National Meetings

We’re hard at work putting final touches on the program for BOTH components of Orchestras Canada’s national meetings, taking place in Montreal in late May. Component #1 is the meeting of CEOs, which runs from May 27-29; component #2 – made possible by a visionary foundation partner – is designed for education and community engagement staff of member orchestras, and takes place May 28 and 29.

The meetings are co-hosted by the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal and HEC Montreal. Program highlights include presentations by Dr. Robert Flanagan of Stanford University, Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies Research, Robert Sirman of the Canada Council for the Arts, key faculty at HEC Montreal, Stephen Huddart of the J.W. McConnell Foundation, Phillip Bravo of Carnegie Hall’s Link-Up National and International program, Dr. Ann Patteson of Queen’s University and the Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts program – and, as a particular highlight, a session with Maestro Kent Nagano, with CBC host/producer Kelly Rice. We’ll get a behind the scenes tour of the Maison symphonique with acoustician Tateo Nakajima. And there’s more!

To view the agenda for the CEOs meeting, please click here.
To view the agenda for the Education/community engagement meeting, please click here.

Two matters of some urgency:

While we’ll be taking registrations right up to a week before the meetings, the deadline for booking hotel rooms at the Hyatt Regency Montreal at our negotiated rate of $137/night is today – April 25. To get more information and to book on-line, please visit orchestrascanada.org.

Tickets for our highlight concert, the sold-out performance by the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal on Monday, May 28, are in very short supply – and we’re distributing them on a first come, first served basis to meeting registrants. Register on-line today, to avoid disappointment.

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Federal Budget 2012

Federal Budget 2012

Much has been written about the federal budget, delivered by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Thursday, 29 March – and more will be written in weeks to come, as detailed departmental spending estimates are released. In the meanwhile, though, we’ll provide the headlines we think are particularly pertinent to the orchestral sector.

Budget 2012 explicitly indicates that the budget for the Canada Council for the Arts will be maintained at $181 million for 2012-13. We have subsequently received informal confirmation from Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore that three other programs well-used by Canadian orchestras, the Canada Cultural Investment Fund (which includes the Arts Endowment Component), the Cultural Spaces Fund and the Canada Arts Presentations Fund, will maintain funding levels in 2012-13.

As has been widely reported elsewhere, other agencies of the Department of Canadian Heritage have not fared so well, with the National Arts Centre taking an ongoing funding reduction of $1.9 million and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation taking a $115 million cut. The effect of these funding reductions will be clarified in coming days.

While this news provides valued breathing room to Canadian orchestras, it’s fair to say that the notion of “business as usual” has fundamentally changed. Budget 2012 explicitly states that “[o]rganizations within the Canadian Heritage portfolio will streamline corporate support functions, consolidate office space and improve the efficiency of operating processes, improve processes for managing programs and operations, and prioritize grants and contributions. Canadian Heritage will move to a more integrated policy framework that focuses on the socioeconomic benefits that their programs offer to Canadians and their communities. The Department will also focus on funding that leverages contributions from partners.”

Similarly, the Budget Day release from the Canada Council for the Arts quotes Director Robert Sirman as saying that “[t]he government’s decision to maintain the Council’s funding gives us the opportunity to independently take actions that will generate savings that we can reinvest back into the professional arts sector. It will also enable us to ensure our programs continue to be relevant, cost-effective and responsive to the changing needs of the community. Over the next three years we will implement a number of changes that are already in development, including reducing the cost of our office space, streamlining operational processes and adjusting programs.” The release goes on to say, “[i]n the coming months, the Council will review options that address its traditional commitment to the core of creative arts practice while reflecting areas of increasing priority, including equity, public engagement, and national and international market access.”

In addition to the measures specific to arts investment that were announced in Budget 2012, there were also a number of references to the Canadian charitable and not for profit community.

They included:
• the fundraising potential inherent in the discontinuation of the penny;
• stricter guidelines for reporting political activity by charities, and the development and delivery of education programs by the Canada Revenue Agency to ensure that charities are accurately reporting their political activity. By law, charities are able to dedicate as much as 10% of their time and resources to non-partisan political activity; however, new measures will be put in place to better track and report it, including a new section in the annual T3010 form. For more information about this, please visit cra-arc.gc.ca;
• stricter guidelines for charities accepting gifts from foreign sources to underwrite political activity.

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What’s Up At Orchestras Canada

What’s Up At Orchestras Canada

As living proof that there’s no rest for the wicked, we’ve been busy at Orchestras Canada in recent weeks! Here’s a quick update on a few of the things that we’ve been working on.

Youth Orchestra Task Force: Recruitment is complete, and we’re now working on scheduling the first meeting of a new task force that will study the current state and needs of Canadian youth orchestras. We are grateful to the following people for stepping forward to serve on the task force, east to west:
Ken MacLeod, New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (chair)
Louise Richard, Association des orchestres de jeunes du Quebec
John Gomez, Ottawa Youth Orchestra Academy
Diana Weir, Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
Paul Dornian, Mount Royal Conservatory
Sheila Redhead, Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra

Comparative Reports for 2010-11: Do you love orchestra data? If so, we have a treat for you. With the co-operation of 65 Canadian orchestras, from small to huge, OC’s intrepid statistician, C. Stephen Smith, has completed work on this year’s Comparative Report – a compendium of contextual, financial and audience data from the 2010-11 season. While the detailed report is only available to participating orchestras, we’ve published two summary reports (by region of the country and budget size) on our website – and you can view them here.

Final touches are being put on a brand-new report by Kelly Hill of Hill Strategies Research, commissioned by Orchestras Canada with support from the Ontario Arts Endowment Fund. To complement our annual Comparative Report study, we’ve asked Kelly to report on the observable trends from six years of data from fifty consistently-participating Canadian orchestras, 2004-05 to 2009-10. Watch this space: we’ll let you know when it’s posted (in both languages, bien sûr!) on our website.

Planning for the National Orchestras Meetings in Montréal: The full program for the 2012 national orchestras meeting will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 and it will wrap up at 12 noon on Tuesday, May 29. Confirmed program highlights include presentations by Professor Robert Flanagan, author of the recently-published The Perilous Life of Symphony Orchestras; key staff at HEC Montreal; Kent Nagano, music director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal; and Robert Sirman, director of the Canada Council for the Arts. Delegates will also be attending a SOLD OUT concert by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, led by Maestro Nagano and featuring Cirque Eloize, in a new “imagining” of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe. We are also planning a parallel program for symphony education and community engagement staff, May 28-29. For more information, click here.

This past weekend, members of the Orchestras Canada board of directors met in Toronto to kick off the development of a new strategic plan for OC. Working with Peter O’Donnell and Linda Spence of Healthy Futures Group, the OC board engaged in 1.5 days of intense discussion, attended performances by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and re-affirmed our belief that Canadian orchestras have an intelligent and brave group of directors working on their behalf. While the plan itself will not be complete for a number of months, we can hint that the following themes will almost surely be explored in it:

Smart positioning of Canadian orchestras – with government bodies, the Canadian public and businesses and philanthropic funders
Collective action – enhancing and expanding partnerships and collaborations
Network building – providing the tools and venues to Canadian orchestras to learn together, build common cause, and better support one another

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Update from the Canada Council for the Arts

Update from the Canada Council for the Arts

Earlier this week, 75 representatives of national arts service organizations – including Orchestras Canada’s Board Chair Thérèse Boutin and Executive Director Katherine Carleton – took part in a meeting in Ottawa hosted by the Canada Council for the Arts. One of the highlights of the meeting was a presentation by Canada Council Director and CEO Robert Sirman, during which he elaborated on the Council’s current perspective on funding, priorities and challenges, Council’s corporate plan, and the Government of Canada’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP).

Here are some key points of Mr. Sirman’s presentation:

Canada Council’s parliamentary appropriation for 2011-12 is $181 million: it is unchanged since 2007.

Council is either experiencing or anticipating three new and distinct forms of financial pressure:
1. Income from endowments, traditionally 5-6% of Council’s budget, is lower than usual due to the performance of the Council’s investment portfolio;
2. Council is affected by fiscal restraint legislation that covers all federal government departments and agencies. Administrative and overhead costs cannot exceed a baseline established in 2010-11. In partial response to this, the Canada Council will be moving its offices in just over 2 years; this move is projected to save the Council a significant amount of money each year, while providing the organization with a notable branding opportunity;
3. Like every other part of government, Council has been asked to participate in the Government of Canada’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP), an exercise designed to bring government spending back into balance by 2014-15. DRAP applies to every federal government department and agency, including the Canada Council, Department of Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, the CBC and HRSDC. Council has submitted scenarios for 5% and 10% spending cuts to Treasury Board, and Treasury Board’s decisions for 2012-13 will be conveyed next February or March. Only then will Council know its spending targets for the fiscal year that starts April 1, 2012.The scenarios submitted by Council are protected by cabinet confidentiality, and even senior staff at Council are not apprised of their content. Mr. Sirman stated strongly that there is no evidence that the Canada Council will be a particular target for cuts; at the same time, there is every indication that the Council will be asked to contribute to savings targets. He also noted that Council will not be in a position to make up shortfalls created by funding reductions from other federal funders.

Despite these pressures, Council is committed to its core mandate and to regularly and thoroughly evaluating the effectiveness of its work and the responsiveness of its programs to the evolution of the arts in Canada. Mr. Sirman reminded attendees of the five themes in Council’s last strategic plan – and three more recent elaborations of those themes:
1. The role of the individual artist
2. The role of arts organizations
3. Equity
4. Partnerships
5. Internal Capacity

6. Facilitating greater synergy within the existing arts infrastructure to enhance sustainability and adaptability.
7. Increasing Council’s focus on the impact of the transition to a digital society on the arts.
8. Advancing a public conversation on the value that art and artists make to everyday life.

Readers who are interested in knowing more can review the Council’s corporate documents at canadacouncil.ca.

Mr. Sirman shared some thoughts on potentially resonant (and less-resonant) messaging from the arts community.

Resonant Messages
• Job retention and job creation are key;
• Stabilizing the economy and strengthening Canada’s economic position are enormously important: thus the current Deficit Reduction Action Plan;
• Issues related to freedom of expression are important – and they do not affect artists only.

Less-resonant Messages
• There is no appetite to revive the cancelled programs of support for international market development and cultural diplomacy. If the Government of Canada re-engages in this area at a later date, the approach will be a very different one.
• The concept of special treatment for certain individuals or groups has limited traction: arguments are most successfully framed when they’re presented in light of their impact on a broad group of Canadians.

In all, we benefited from a candid and well-informed report from the Canada Council’s staff leader – and we hope our readers appreciate it, too.

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Late last week, Joseph L. Rotman, Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, announced the reappointment of Robert Sirman as Director and CEO of the Canada Council for a second four-year term. Mr. Rotman characterized this as “excellent news. Mr. Sirman’s leadership over the last four years has been exemplary…Under Mr. Sirman’s leadership, the Council underwent two significant reviews: a Special Examination by the Auditor General of Canada, which said the Council was doing a good job of managing its affairs, and a Strategic Review of all of its programs, which resulted in the 2010 federal budget stating that the Council’s programs were aligned with the priorities of Canadians. The Board and I look forward to drawing upon Mr. Sirman’s wealth of experience and expertise in our continuing efforts to ensure that Canadians enjoy an abundance of arts experiences of exceptional quality across the land.”

Congratulations to Maestro John Morris Russell, Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, who has been presented with the Herb Gray Harmony Award by the Multicultural Council of Windsor, recognizing the diverse and inclusive concert series and musical programs he has developed to celebrate and promote multiculturalism in Windsor/Essex. In the announcement of the award, he was cited in this way: Maestro Russell is an advocate for Windsor/Essex and strives to reach out to all members of society. Music has given him a means of connecting with the residents of Windsor/Essex and increasing the quality of life. His diverse programming has given cultures a voice and a way through which to educate others. His education concerts specifically target students to create an awareness of other cultures early on and give composers from different cultures a medium to present their work. John Morris Russell has made Windsor/Essex a welcoming place for artists from different cultures and a city with diverse artistic talents.

The Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition in piano has announced its 2010 winners. The laureates include grand prize winner Claudia Chan, a 20-year-old pianist from Ottawa currently studying in Toronto; second prize and Brandon Prize winner, Andrea Lodge of Bonavista, N.L.; third prize winner, Christopher Morano, originally of Sault Ste. Marie ON.  As well, the Canadian Music Centre and Canadian League of Composers presented its Friends of Canadian Music Award to Montréal-based conductor Véronique Lacroix - also founder and artistic director of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal – who has conducted over 200 Canadian works during her career.

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