Canadian Conference of the Arts shutting down, cites government spending cuts

OTTAWA – A cultural group founded by artists including Group of Seven member Lawren Harris is suspending operations after 67 years, a victim of federal spending cuts.

The Canadian Conference of the Arts, the largest national alliance of the arts, culture and heritage sector, says it will start winding down its work immediately.

The group was warned 18 months ago that the Harper government intended to end 47 years of funding.

It asked for two years of transitional financing while it weaned itself off public money, but was offered only six months of support.

The group says it found a lot of private support, but its board decided it couldn’t make the shift in six months and decided to shut down immediately.

Conference chair Kathleen Sharpe says the organization made a game effort, but fell short.

“Despite our best efforts, transitional support of six months was not enough and we have simply run out of time to develop new revenue streams,” Sharpe said in a statement.

“This was not the way I was hoping to end my time with the CCA,” said national director Alain Pineau. “But I leave knowing that all of us at the secretariat have given everything we had to make this transition a success.

“I can only hope that someone else will pick up the challenge. The Canadian cultural sector needs and deserves a CCA if it is to be effective and thrive.”

The conference was founded in 1945 to promote the interests of artists and the cultural sector at the federal level.

Pineau said the organization will be suspended in the hope that someone can eventually resuscitate it.

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