Election 07 & The Arts

A brief summary of the interviews SAA conducted with representatives of the Liberal, NDP and Saskatchewan Parties.

The three major parties running in the Saskatchewan election agree that artists contribute invaluably to quality of life and to attracting new residents and businesses to the province. Recently, the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance interviewed representatives of the three parties on their arts policies.

The Status of the Artist legislation ? (which would allow artists access to economic and social programs, benefits and rights like workers compensation, collective bargaining, training, pension and social assistance) ? was stalled in the last days of the spring legislature.

This will not stop Sandra Morin, Former NDP Minister of Culture, Youth & Recreation, and current candidate in the Regina Walsh Acres constituency. She says: ?If we?re elected, [I] will make sure that the legislation regarding the Status of the Artist has top priority. . . . We . . . want to see the rights of artists codified in law in the province.?

Grant Karwacki, Liberal candidate in Saskatoon Nutana agrees: ?We would support and endeavour to pass the Status of the Artist legislation. We see no problem with giving those particular rights to artists as workers.?

June Draude, Saskatchewan Party candidate in Kelvington Wadena constituency partially agrees, but hedges, saying: ?The only thing that I could commit to at this time is the . . . commitments that we made to witnesses [in committee].?

Each party claims to have a vision for the future sustainability for individual artists and arts organizations.

June Draude says: ?As the population of Saskatchewan increases, the need and the desire for arts will increase . . . I believe that as we increase our revenues in the province there will be more money for individual artists ? to buy their works, or to see them appear. And the money that will be needed for arts organizations to help market them will be . . . enhanced.?

According to Grant Karwacki: ?What?s really needed is a cultural mapping project that will . . . take in to account where we?ve been as a province and where we?re at now ? kind of taking inventory and . . . a little future forward thinking. . . . we need to promote the ability for artists to do their art, but we also need to have a business side ? promoting business management, protection of intellectual property . . . selling their work in the commercial market. . . . . The third thing that government can do . . . is the purchase and placement of art in public spaces.?

Sandra Morin says of the NDP: ?We believe that the work that artists do is just as important as the work done to develop oil or to build highways, or to produce agricultural products.?

What funding method will the parties use to uphold these ideals?

Grant Karwacki looks to government and beyond: ?We see the philanthropy that occurs in other major centres, such as Toronto ? in the architectural projects that are going forward . . . there is government seed money. . . . governments send a signal that cultural industry is important, and then the private sector and individuals step up to the plate and contribute.?

Sandra Morin says: ? . . . recently the NDP government announced a funding response to MACSA (the Ministers? Advisory Committee on the Status of the Artist) in conjunction with the Music Industry Review, and we?ve committed $4.5 million worth of funding that includes ongoing base funding. . . . one [facet] is a revolving investment fund, through which artists [can] access the fund . . . when opportunities become available. . . . We?ve changed our policies around procurement to include the arts in terms of a percentage of expenditures.?

June Draude suggests that the Saskatchewan Party will re-evaluate, saying: ?The model that?s being used at this time seems to be working to some extent. We?re not going to be averse to looking at changing the model, but we wouldn?t do it without the cooperation and . . . ideas given by arts organizations. . . . I think we should be thinking outside the box . . . The first [initiative] that we announced in the platform was . . . $150 per year per child family benefit for children age six to fourteen, which will allow hopefully more parents to allow their children to become involved in music and arts. . . . . We?re looking . . . at . . . the Status of the Artist Legislation [at artists] retaining ownership of intellectual property and having written contracts.?

After November 7th, artists look forward to responding to these invitations for a collaborative, creative future with whichever party takes the reins.