National museums, Canada Council spared cuts

National museums were mostly spared in Thursday's budget, with Ottawa's museums and galleries seeing no further cuts, but several other cultural institutions face cuts over the next three years.

Library and Archives, NAC, NFB, Telefilm see reductions over 3 years

National museums were mostly spared in Thursday’s budget, with Ottawa's museums and galleries seeing no further cuts, but several other cultural institutions face cuts over the next three years.

The federal government's 2012 budget outlined cuts of $9.6 million over three years to Library and Archives Canada and $1.9 million over the same time period for the National Arts Centre. Telefilm, the National Film Board, the National Battlefields Commission and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission also will face cuts.

The Canada Council for the Arts, an organization that provides both operating funding and special grants to arts groups, also saw its funding maintained.

Spared cuts were the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian Museum of Nature, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Science and Technology Museum and Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which receive federal operating grants.

Many of the museums and galleries had already made staffing cuts in the previous fiscal year and workers were concerned about future cuts.

As part of the federal review of departmental spending, the National Capital Commission will also cut its budget by $1.8 million over three years.

Arts groups welcomed the news that the Canada Council funding was not facing cuts.

Arts groups had feared deeper cuts

"We saw that our key recommendation was reflected, which was to preserve funding for the Canada council for the arts," said Shannon Litzenberger, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Arts Coalition, a group of artists, cultural workers, business leaders and volunteers.

Despite Heritage Minister James Moore’s pledge of five years of stable funding for the Canada Council, which makes grants to arts organizations for both operations and special projects, Litzenberger said many artists feared deep cuts in arts spending.

Moore has been a strong advocate for the cultural sector she said. Many groups, including the Canadian Arts Coalition and the Canadian Conference of the Arts had recommended Canada Council funding be preserved in pre-budget talks. 

Éric Dubeau of Fédération culturelle canadienne-française said he was relieved that the Canada Council was not asked to take five or 10 per cent from its budget, as were most departments and government agencies.

He also welcomed the Canadian Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program announced in the budget, which he said would help galleries mount touring exhibitions by insuring works as they travel.

Concern over audio-visual production

There is concern, however, over the TV and film production, with cuts expected to Telefilm Canada ($10.6 million over three years), the National Film Board ($6.7 million) and the CBC.

"Overall I would say great news for the Canada Council, very bad news for the audio-visual sector," said Alain Pineau, a spokesman for the Canadian Conference of the Arts.

It's too early to say what the impact of those cuts on Canadian producers will be, as it depends on how they are implemented by each of those organizations, he said.

Pineau also called the overall cut to the Heritage Ministry of $46 million over three years "puzzling."

"That cannot come, I don't think, exclusively out of staffing or reducing an over-fat bureaucracy. They've already reduced their personnel over the past few years. It will interesting to know where the money comes from. The devil is in the details and at this moment, the details are not public," he said.

Arts festivals or cultural institutions undertaking capital projects may face the cuts over the coming three years as they attempt to raise federal funding.

Liberal Heritage critic Scott Simms expressed concern over the pattern of cuts, with both the creators of content such as Telefilm and National Film Board and the distributors – such as the CBC – facing cuts.

"I'll be watching very carefully what happens with the Canadian Media Fund," he said, adding that private sector contributors are pressuring the Conservatives to cut the fund which supports Canadian programming.

The reductions at Library and Archives are a missed opportunity, Simms said, as they will deprive Canadians of the chance  to see the many works of art and historic objects held in collection but seldom displayed, he added.


Heritage savings ($millions 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Heritage department (internal) 17.8 42.2 46.2
CBC 27.8 69.6 115
CRTC 0 0.4 0.4
Library and archives 3.5 6.6 9.6
National Arts Centre 0.1 0.8 0.8
National Film Board 0.1 3.3 6.7
Telefilm 2.7 6.0 10.6
National Battlefields 0.1 3.3 6.7
Total from Canadian Heritage* 52.2 130.7 191.1
*Totals may not add due to rounding