THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE
OTTAWA, Wednesday, December 6, 2017
The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade met this day at 4:16 p.m. to study the impact and utilization of Canadian culture and arts in Canadian foreign policy and diplomacy, and other related matters.
Senator A. Raynell Andreychuk (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good afternoon. I am the chair of the committee, Senator Andreychuk, from Saskatchewan, and I’d like to go around the table, beginning to my right, and have senators introduce themselves.
Senator Greene: Stephen Greene from Nova Scotia.
Senator Housakos: Leo Housakos from Quebec.
Senator Massicotte: Paul Massicotte from Quebec.
Senator Bovey: Patricia Bovey, Manitoba.
Senator Cools: Anne Cools from Toronto. That’s in Ontario.
The Chair: The committee has been authorized by the Senate to study the impact and utilization of Canadian culture and arts in Canadian foreign policy and diplomacy and other related matters.
Under this mandate, the committee will hear today from government officials from Global Affairs Canada. It’s my pleasure to welcome to the committee Ms. Andrea Desmarteau, Deputy Director, Creative Industries, Financial and Professional Services; Mr. Peter Lundy, Director General, Public Diplomacy and Special Initiatives; Mr. Patrick Riel, Deputy Director, Cultural Diplomacy and Advocacy, Mission Support; and Mr. Stuart Savage, Director General, Geographic Coordination and Mission Support Bureau.
Mr. Savage, I understand you are going to take the lead. Will you be the only presenter, and the rest will be questions? Or are you “sharing the load,” as they say?
Stuart Savage, Director General, Geographic Coordination and Mission Support Bureau, Global Affairs Canada: I’ve been elected to be the sole presenter, but my colleagues are available to help to answer questions, should you need them.
The Chair: Thank you for responding to our request. As you know, we are just starting our study. We have heard from two witnesses who have given us some of their perspectives on cultural diplomacy and the Canadian position, and we thought it was important to have Global Affairs Canada come to really give us the history of what the department has done, if possible, what you’re doing now and perhaps what changes you foresee in the near future.
Welcome to the committee, and the floor is yours, Mr. Savage.
Mr. Savage: Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.
I’d like to provide you with some context about how Global Affairs approaches cultural diplomacy and how we recognize and support Canadian arts and culture as a core asset to promote Canada abroad as a socially and economically progressive nation.
In 2016, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $1.9 billion in arts and culture over five years. Of that, Global Affairs received $15.4 million over two years to showcase Canada’s arts and creative industries to the world, and to help Canadian foreign missions promote Canadian culture and creativity on the world stage. This fall, the government announced funding to continue these efforts for the next five years.
The renewal of our engagement in international cultural relations is reaffirmed in the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ mandate letter:
. . . to continue the revitalization of Canada’s public diplomacy stakeholder agreement in cooperation with partners in Canada and abroad and to increase Canada’s education and cultural interaction with the world. This includes, along with the Minister of International Trade, supporting the Minister of Canadian Heritage in restoring international cultural promotion programming, updating their design and increasing related funding.
Cultural diplomacy has always been a pillar of public diplomacy to inform and influence governments as well as individuals and communities beyond the traditional political channels. It is an effective tool to increase people-to-people ties and to generate constructive dialogue between societies. Public diplomacy, including cultural diplomacy, allows countries to stimulate exchange, improve international cultural understanding and contribute to prosperity.
The arts community reflects many of Canada’s characteristics: diversity, creativity, innovation, excellence and boldness. It comprises artists of international renown, from Nobel Prize in Literature winner Alice Munro, to Aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal, to aspiring film makers, dancers, painters, and many others. Canadian cultural content is one of the best vehicles to showcase our identity to the world, contribute positively to Canada’s global image and to advance our national interests.
From the Global Affairs perspective, the promotion of Canadian arts and culture serves three main objectives: interaction, advocacy and prosperity. First, cultural diplomacy allows increased interaction with the world by way of exchanges and cooperation with key partners and stakeholders abroad. In a foreign country it means opportunities for networking to access target audiences. This objective encompasses partnership building, reciprocity, dialogue and two-way learning opportunities. For example, our embassy in Rome facilitated the participation of Italian producers in a Canadian music week resulting in Canadian artists and agents being invited to participate in Milano Music Week in Italy.
Second, cultural diplomacy is a powerful tool for advocacy. Through their work and creativity, artists, authors and creative entrepreneurs can send powerful messages that are aligned with Canada’s core values and policy priorities such as democracy, diversity and inclusion, human rights, gender equality and inclusive prosperity. For example, our embassy in Moscow supported the screening of Canadian movies and the participation of a Canadian director at the side-by-side LGBT festival in Russia. This re-enforced Canada’s stance on human rights, underscoring our belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Third, increasing Canada’s prosperity is an integral part of what we try to achieve with cultural diversity. Supporting artists in creative industries abroad increases opportunities and the discoverability for Canada’s arts sector and industries. An example is the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest book fair in the world, where Canada will be the guest of honour in 2020. This event will facilitate business and promotional opportunities for Canadian publishers and authors alike.
Global Affairs has a number of assets to support our cultural diplomacy. The largest and most important is our staff in the network of missions abroad. Canada-based and locally engaged employees are our eyes and ears on the ground. They combine their knowledge and insights in cultural intelligence to support artists in creative industries. They leverage cultural opportunities and help to advance Canada’s foreign policies and our Canadian cultural partners. For example, we provide assistance to visiting ministers such as the Minister of Heritage by organizing local round tables and contacts with on-the-ground artists and creators.
Our modest network of cultural spaces is another asset. Physical venues in five major cities are dedicated to showcasing our creativity. In Berlin, for example, the Marshall McLuhan Salon is the embassy’s multimedia outreach facility with a primary mandate of educating German youth about all aspects of Canadian culture. The venue and its technology have also led to the salon becoming an official exhibition space for two festivals of international scope: the Berlinale and the Transmediale.
Another valuable asset is our collection over 6,000 works by artists from across Canada, reflecting our rich and diverse cultural heritage. Most of the art work is on display in the public spaces of our embassies and official residences.
With the additional resources made available in Budget 2016, Global Affairs created positions in two funds that aimed to leverage opportunities for Canadian arts sectors abroad. The Mission Cultural Fund is a $1.75 million fund available to all missions to leverage Canadian cultural initiatives to promote our artists abroad while advancing foreign policy priorities. The department’s existing Integrative Trade Strategy Fund was expanded to include a creative industries component. This funding of a quarter million allows trade missions to support business-to-business initiatives that have a direct economic benefit to Canadian creative entrepreneurs in international markets.
In addition, 16 locally-engaged employees were hired in 13 locations to strengthen our network. We were also able to create two temporary positions at our headquarters to support the missions and collaborate with other domestic cultural organizations.
A key component of GAC’s approach to cultural diplomacy is the renewed and enhanced collaboration with other federal arts funders and agencies such as the Canada Council of Arts and Heritage Canada. The multiple benefits to strong partnerships across these organizations include informing missions of opportunities to promote Canadian artists, leveraging funding in programming of initiative and tours abroad, avoiding duplication and increasing alignment of efforts with stakeholders.
We first received funding for cultural activities in the fourth quarter of last fiscal year. By the end of March 2017, 84 of our 174 missions received funding for 253 projects. These projects supported a number of foreign policy priorities, including human rights and democracy, and business and market access. Many were also in support of Canada 150 celebrations and its four themes: diversity and inclusion, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, youth, and environment.
Mission capacity and expertise will increase over time, including through training, information sharing and strategic guidance. We are also looking forward to formalizing our collaboration with federal partners to identify more opportunities such as by knowing when and where Canada-Council-funded artists are travelling. This will allow us to realize the full potential of cultural diplomacy to advance Canadian objectives internationally.
Thank you for this opportunity to present today. I welcome your questions.
The Chair: Thank you.
I have a list of questioners. I will turn first to Senator Oh.
Senator Oh: Thank you for your presentation.
Canada’s pride swells on its acceptance and celebration of cultural diversity. I was with Minister Joly to kick off the Canada 150 celebration in China. Canada was also chosen as the number one 2017 travel destinations by Lonely Planet.
What programs of our Canada 150 campaign were right, and what programs have been carried out by our diplomatic missions?
Mr. Savage: Thank you for that question. As I noted in my speaking points, the initial impulse or wave of projects that we were able to fund with the monies we received in late 2016 were in fact largely related to supporting Canada 150 celebrations around the world. Those varied immensely but they were not things we governed, per se. They were associated, of course, with the priorities of Canada 150, which were the inclusive society, the reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples, youth and the environment.
I’m not sure if my colleague Peter Lundy, who does public diplomacy and whose predecessor oversaw the celebrations of Canada 150 abroad might have something to add to be more precise.
Peter Lundy, Director General, Public Diplomacy and Special Initiatives, Global Affairs Canada: Just to add, senator, that most of the public diplomacy activities that occurred over the past year have really been branded under the 150 banner. So as Stuart mentioned, those main themes of diversity, inclusion, reconciliation, youth and environment were reflected across the kind of public diplomacy activities that our missions are involved in every year.
We are currently in the process of doing our final wrap-up in terms of numbers and impact. But I can tell you, I think our tracking would show that we’ve reached very large audiences — one measurement is our social media impact — in terms of people who have somehow connected and identified to the Canada 150 brand. I think we had some very good success in that regard.
In summary, most of the events that took place over the last year were linked to 150 in a very public way through the branding, and our early measurement, in any event, shows that we had significant reach and engagement with the target audiences.
Senator Oh: Any other comments? Thank you.
Senator Ataullahjan: I want to quote something that one of our witnesses from last week said, “We need to recreate something we used to have in Global Affairs. Global Affairs has the capacity but there has to be a commitment.”
I want to know, what needs to be implemented in Canada’s embassies overseas to ensure that Canadian arts and culture become part of Canadian foreign policy in a meaningful way?
Mr. Savage: Thank you for that question. I think the fact that the government has stated and one of its very first messages to our Canadian heads of mission abroad was that they wanted them to go forth and support public diplomacy, and the Prime Minister put in the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ mandate letter, as well as the Minister of International Trade’s mandate letter, the objective of increasing cultural interaction with the world sent clear marching orders to our missions around the world that this is now a priority and an area of endeavour that will be reflected in how they are measured in terms of performance.
I think we’ve seen that as well in terms of interest. The fund was set up with its modest amount of $1.75 million for 174 missions around the world. In the first year we had 353 or so projects, and of that we had many more proposals for projects but we just couldn’t fund them because there were not enough resources. Not that they were all aligned or perfect, but I think it’s just an example of the fact that the message has been heard and that our missions around the world are now tuning up and focusing again on culture as a means to promote Canada internationally in a way that hadn’t necessarily been as overt in the last few years.
Senator Ataullahjan: Do we need to have any measures in place to measure the success and the failures of these programs? Is there anything in place that will look at these programs and see how successful they’ve been?
Mr. Savage: That’s an excellent point. We’re good civil servants and we like to measure and be able to report back on how taxpayers’ resources are being used.
We are indeed tracking the projects, costs and performance indicators that were set up for each project to determine whether or not they were successful in meeting their goals. As we are only into the second fiscal year and the first fiscal year only studied the last quarter, we don’t yet have enough data to provide an in depth or meaningful analysis, but we are seeking to do so and gather that data so that we can, as we move forward, do so in the most informed way that can ensure the most effective use of the limited resources available.
Senator Ataullahjan: I have to mention that the embassy in Taiwan, I saw what they were doing for 150, how they had engaged the local population and how thrilled everyone was to be there. The embassy in Sri Lanka just received the artwork of a Canadian artist that they showcased. It’s very nice.
Senator Bovey: I’d like to thank you all for coming. It’s encouraging to see the increased cultural interaction globally, to use your words. I guess as one who has been around the block a long time in this field, I’m delighted you mentioned the collection. I think it was started by foreign Canadian Ambassador George Kidd and Freeman Tovell those many years ago. You have some real treasures in that collection. It’s nice to get them out.
I appreciate you’re only in the second fiscal year of this retooled or upgraded, shall I say, line of work. You mentioned that you have been responding to where Canada-Council-funded artists are going. What outreach have you done for artists in all disciplines or arts organizations across the country who don’t happen to be in Ottawa but who are itching to get their work and their collaborations beyond our national borders? Have you reached out to all of them? Are they partaking?
Mr. Savage: Thank you for the question. That’s a very important point, I think. In Global Affairs, we have limited capacity to engage with all the sectors across the country, although we have done outreach to some of the key obvious ones and work with, for example, the Canadian Museum of History and different artists’ associations.
Our approach is to work closely with the Canada Council and with Canadian Heritage and its portfolio agencies to convey through them information related to artists’ interests and availability in order to try to match with what our missions abroad are identifying as opportunities.
So we come at it a little bit more from the foreign side in the sense of what’s out there that Canadian artists could do that could be interesting for them, to create opportunities for them and to promote Canada. But we work with domestic partners here to try to be best informed as to how to reach out to those artists to engage them in these opportunities.
It’s a work in progress. We’ve established a working group that goes from the working level all the way up to deputy ministers among ourselves, the Canada Council and Heritage in order to try to maximize opportunities to leverage each other’s knowledge, expertise and resources to the benefit of Canadians, and we will continue to do so.
Senator Bovey: If I can have a follow-up question on that, I speak from knowledge, since I’ve been in the Senate, and I obviously speak from long-time past experience over many years. I’m going to contend that there are lots of artists and organizations that do not get funding from the Canada Council or from Heritage Canada because of the rules and regulations that they have to have had X number of exhibitions before they qualify for funding. In fact, they are the very artists who may well be the ones on the ground to make those international connections. I would hope that you would be able to look out beyond just those two important arms, I contend, but there are other arms, and I would encourage you to look at them.
Over many years, when I was a director of an art museum, I would get an annual visit from an individual, a senior official from then Foreign Affairs, who would honestly tell me what the priorities are expected to be for the next three to five years. I remember one conversation when he was able to go out further than that, and it allowed me as an institutional director with my staff to be able to match the projects we had ongoing so that we could plan in advance.
Therefore, we had very rich partnerships with China, Japan, Germany, all parts of Asia and Europe right down into the United States and some into South America. I wonder if you have in your plans or have yet had that kind of consultation with organizations across the country in all disciplines.
Mr. Savage: The short answer is “not completely.” We’ve begun. As I said, we are still tooling up ourselves.
The government only announced a month and a half ago that it intends to provide ongoing funding. That funding, how it will be distributed and how we will work between different departments has yet to be determined.
So we are not yet quite in the position to speak to priorities beyond this fiscal year. With the guidance of our political leaders, we hope to be there in the next six months or so. Then we can begin a more meaningful medium- and longer-term dialogue with important institutions like your museum was.
Senator Bovey: I have one creative followup, looking forward. We all have our historical past, and it’s easy to say, “Let’s recreate what we used to do,” but this committee is really looking at newer and more constructive ways to engage.
I’m going to ask you about what I’m going to call “streams,” because I haven’t thought of a better word yet, but I have the right to change that word as we move forward. Have you thought of taking a look at anything going forward by way of international collaborations, such as among the circumpolar countries or among the north-south axis from South America through to Canada?
As I look at our writers, musicians — and I’ve been meeting with people in the opera community — and I certainly know the galleries and universities, it seems to me that with whatever dollars we have, are we just looking at taking artist A or writer B to somewhere else, or are we taking a look at building creative cultural arts collaborations that are going to enrich not only other countries about Canada but, perhaps, us about the countries from which so many of our citizens come? Because I think we’re the only country in the world that has as citizens people from every country in the world. We’ve got opportunities that other places may not have.
I wonder if you’ve put any thought around constructing any of these programs differently.
Mr. Savage: I don’t think we have the political cover to reconstruct programs, per se. As to how we administer our programs, we’ll have some flexibility. We have discussed such ideas as prioritizing regions and working regionally, such as with the Nordic countries. I would note that the Canada Council is very heavily involved in organizing a cultural summit of the Americas here in the spring 2018. We’re providing a little support to that as well.
As our funding is becoming more stabilized, our ideas could be explored further. We’ll be able to make concrete some of the more potentially rich veins that you have pointed out.
Senator Housakos: Thank you, guests, for being here today. We, for many years, in successive governments — Jean Chrétien’s government, particularly — would lead trade delegations and missions around the world. Successive governments have done that, obviously. All the time we will have official visits and will invite along with the minister, government or official delegation Canadian business leaders, investors and so on. Has the Canadian government looked at — in the past — the potential of leading cultural missions, and on a consistent basis in various regions of the world? If they have looked at it, why haven’t we exercised that?
Mr. Savage: From a Global Affairs perspective, we now have specific prioritized funding to support the creative sectors in terms of our trade promotion. However, I have to defer to our colleagues at Heritage in terms of the creative sector. They are in the midst of developing — if I understand correctly, and I think you’ve invited them to speak to you — a creative industries export strategy. I think the Minister of Canadian Heritage has already explored and undertaken some ventures like what I understood you to describe, but I don’t want to speak for them. I’m here for Global Affairs today.
Senator Housakos: We’ll put them on the list.
The Chair: They’re here tomorrow.
Senator Housakos: Our chair and steering are on the ball. I will pose that question tomorrow.
The Chair: Before we go to a second round, I’m going to permit myself a few questions.
I want to understand exactly what you do within and what your parameters are, because my problem when I was inside Foreign Affairs a long time ago was to determine what I could do with the limited amount of resources. There were more competing demands of how you could translate our culture, our brand — whatever it was — in the communities we were serving. It was always a dilemma of how to do that, because you’ve got some broad guidelines and that was it.
On the other side, I was bombarded with requests. There is a group from small-town Saskatchewan coming through with students who happen to have a choir, and they want to highlight them and showcase them with young people in Kenya, say. How do you choose between two symphonies, et cetera?
How do you make those selections, because you’re going to offend someone and reward someone, and it really is a difficult issue? You’re going to have funds, but you will still have the old dilemmas. Is that still a problem in your sphere today?
Mr. Savage: Ensuring we’re investing in quality projects is always a preoccupation for us. We have established since the beginning of this new investment by the government a set of criteria that all project proposals need to meet in order to be considered. Once they’ve met the threshold of those criteria, including aligning with the priorities, in the last case, for example, of Canada 150, we have a vetting process where we consult our partners in Heritage, the Canada Council, the geographic desks associated with those countries and the mission in the country — but usually it’s the mission proposing it, so it’s not too important to consult them in that sense — and we do what’s possible.
As I said, these are still very early days. A lot of missions are trying to grapple with how, what and if it’s worth their time and energy, because often organizing or supporting cultural activities is a big investment of time and human resources that our very stretched missions abroad already lack. They don’t propose anything in a willy-nilly fashion until they’re fairly sure they can execute it.
Is it a struggle? So far, I don’t think it’s been too much of a struggle. We have conversations with the missions. We discuss it. We put things in context. They have to meet criteria to become eligible. So far, it has not been a major problem, but it could become a challenge over time, you’re quite right. It’s a good challenge to have in the sense that you have more possibilities than you have the ability to pursue them all, but so far, no one has gone home and felt they’ve been hard done by.
The Chair: The other aspect of that is how to balance Canada in that process in two ways. If you pick some criteria — and if you have those written criteria and they’re available, it would be very helpful if we could get them — whatever policies, practices or criteria you have would be extremely helpful. Please provide them to the clerk.
My concern is that we have such a large country and everyone wants some representation. How do you choose, and who balances the regions of Canada in one sense and then who balances the emerging arts as opposed to the established arts, music, education or whatever criteria you’re using? Who does that balancing act? That would be my second question.
My third question is: How do provinces that have a presence overseas fit into this? I think I’m more familiar with Quebec than anyone else, but I do know that other provinces have representation also. So how does that fit into Foreign Affairs, the provincial aspect?
Mr. Savage: On the question of who balances, we’re not even sure if we’re balanced right now, to be honest. Your earlier question about tracking, measuring and analyzing, we haven’t got all the data in yet to have a fully objective sense of that. We don’t have a feeling that there’s any major imbalance. We know that the bigger regions tend to have more artists travelling and artists to support, so they tend to get more support, but we haven’t done a thorough analysis so I can’t give you a clear answer on that yet. It will be something we will be looking into.
I think it’s a very thoughtful question for us to have in mind as we move forward. We want to make sure Canada is fairly represented abroad as well, because we want to ensure that minority communities and the full diversity and complexity of this great country is represented in our cultural diplomacy abroad.
On the provincial and territorial considerations, we certainly consider them stakeholders and partners. We could think of a number of examples already where not necessarily always with an office abroad but where we’ve worked with — certainly with Quebec, there was a major undertaking at the Havana Book Fair last year where the Minister of Culture — and I forget the exact name — but the writers’ association of Quebec was part of the Canadian writers’ association with the Ministry of Culture and others. So we will partner with them. In fact, we hope that our modest mission cultural fund is used exactly in that spirit to leverage and to work with additional partners so that we can achieve something together that none of us can achieve alone.
We don’t want to go back or we can’t go back to the day where we might have been able to pay for the ballet or an opera company to go abroad just from funding from Global Affairs. Those days are not the current ones we live in. We hope that by leveraging partnerships with provinces, territories and cities and other associations of artists and creative industries that we will be able to achieve more with the limited money we have available.
The Chair: And the balance between emerging artists and professional —
Mr. Savage: It’s a consideration. We’ve written the mission cultural fund guide terms of reference which we will indeed be happy to share with you to highlight that we support artists, that we want to support artists or artist associations and not necessarily companies or businesses per se, although there is an angle, as my trade colleagues can speak to, that are more business oriented.
The fund is flexible and is intended to be there so that in a smaller place — because when you’re working abroad on a mission you don’t always know what opportunities are there until you show up, so your reference to the visiting choir director is a good one.
It wouldn’t necessarily qualify for the mission cultural fund because that’s probably an amateur choir you’re referring to, but if suddenly we discovered there was a Canadian opera singer visiting a certain country and we made a contact and found out they would be willing to do a master class in opera singing or a punk band and we happened to know that there was some sort of rock festival going on, the mission could then take advantage of this flexible funding to match sort of the opportunity with the local demand and give an opportunity to Canadian artists while promoting Canada.
The Chair: Two more questions and then I’ll go to the second round.
You say there are 6,000 articles. Basically paintings and some sculptures. Right?
Mr. Savage: The Global Affairs arts collection contains over 6,000 pieces, yes.
The Chair: Where are they housed and how? How do the missions determine some of that criteria? Because that’s some of the feedback that we had originally from one of our members about how we display and who makes those decisions.
I know, for example, in a residence there are the private quarters and the family can do what they want there, and then there are the more representational areas.
Who chooses that space? So it’s the housing of 6,000, and that’s separate and apart from any of our National Gallery collections.
Mr. Savage: Correct. It’s a separate collection. I believe there is — I don’t have the exact location, but I can get it for you, of where we store some of the excess pieces of art that aren’t currently hanging in our residences or embassies abroad, but my understanding is the majority of them are indeed abroad, being shown. The intent is that they are shown in the public areas of our embassies and our official residences, not in the private quarters.
My understanding of it is that our properties department has a consultant that works with the arts people to determine what might be appropriate, but if there’s a specific policy that I can find, I will be happy to pass that on to you. The collection has a group of curators that helps manage, or at least a couple of curators. I don’t have the exact numbers. They are consulted and advised as to which pieces might go well where. It’s a process. Pieces can rotate over time as well.
I don’t have the full answer for you, but I’m happy to try to get more information.
The Chair: Well, I think 6,000 is, again, an issue of where are they and how are they housed? They’re part of Canada. Canadians own that. It’s within the Department of Foreign Affairs — or Global Affairs, now — but it should be a valuable asset and we need to know what it is and how it’s being handled and displayed. Are we maximizing or are we jeopardizing, in some cases? I know that there are missions where you wouldn’t want to take certain pieces because of the humidity and deterioration. I have seen some of them that have deteriorated.
So I think we need to be sure that we are doing justice to that collection. That would be helpful, also, if you could provide us with that bit of information.
The other thing is — and I may be out-of-date, but is there still a Canada fund for ambassadors or has that been supplanted by this? The reason I say that is because the Canada Fund was such a useful tool for ambassadors to do whatever they thought to maximize Canada’s presence and to assist sectors in the community that they live in that need support. You were referring to Moscow and highlighting the community there. I wondered, is that a social or a cultural issue?
Mr. Savage: Each mission is allocated a portion.
The Chair: You can get back with the actual —
Mr. Savage: This is a Canada Fund for local initiatives. It is a freestanding fund with its own terms of reference and Treasury Board governance. It has a similar or different but clearly outlined guidance in terms of how it can be used, and there is always a number of priorities that it’s meant to support each year and that can be adapted.
In addition to that, there is something we call the post initiative fund which each mission abroad receives. It’s a small amount and it can vary from a couple — I don’t know if it’s maybe less than $2,000 for a very small mission to $50,000, the maximum for the larger missions, where, within certain criteria and guidance, it can support local initiatives. That’s a more flexible fund.
It has been used in cultural-related work in the past, but it’s not exclusively used for that.
The Chair: It would be interesting to get those references too so that we know all the options on the table that can be used in a cultural sense.
My final question would be: Who sets the priorities? I understand when a new government comes in and they say, “We’re going to focus on Asia,” or, “We’re going to focus on the United States or Latin America,” each government seems to take a focal point in international affairs. I’m wondering on culture who makes the final decision? Is it the minister, or is there somewhere in your department where the actual final decisions are made and then recommended to the minister?
Mr. Savage: I’m not quite sure what you mean by “final decision.” We take guidance and follow the priorities as set by the government and minister, but on individual specific projects, the minister is not directly involved.
The Chair: Who would it be then?
Mr. Savage: It would generally be the head of the mission, with the support of their reporting unit in headquarters and my unit in Global Affairs.
The Chair: So you would be the referee as to where all the money goes within the pocket?
Mr. Savage: To some extent. It’s negotiated.
The Chair: That’s one of the problems. Do we put emphasis on our large missions? How does that fit in with all the other objectives within foreign policy?
Mr. Savage: You are grappling with the same issues we are grappling with, and we are currently working through those issues. We now know we have ongoing funding. We will have to have a clear logic framework for proceeding in the future. Thank you for reaffirming that track.
Senator Bovey: I want to pick up on a couple of thoughts that you have put on the table and maybe just throw it out for response, and then I have a question in another line. When we talk about the collection and where it is, is that collection online?
Mr. Savage: I don’t know. I’m told it’s not.
Senator Bovey: With the minister’s interest in digitization, I would suggest if the collection was online, that could be very useful for not only work going into missions but for those art writers, art historians and galleries that might want to borrow or publish it. Publishing it helps that profile. That’s one follow-up thought.
Another follow-up question, though, with regard to who approves what money: Have you considered or would you consider the idea of discipline-based peer juries so that the decisions that are made for who gets what are made by people who know the field as opposed to people who are put in a position of not quite knowing what’s what? I’d suggest that might be something you would want to look at. They, of course, would do it based on the criteria that you are going to forward to us.
My question is about the trade commissioners and the position they’ve been put in the last few years since the pulling back of a number of the cultural attachés. I have heard from a number before I was in the Senate and subsequently that they don’t feel qualified to pick up the cultural portfolio which they have been put in a position to, in many cases.
My question is: What about training? What kind of ongoing training do you have for staff who are in the various missions and have to contend with a singer or an artist, or do we like or don’t we like? What kind of training programs are there in hand? Are there needs or other organizations that might be able to help in that training?
Andrea Desmarteau, Deputy Director, Creative Industries, Financial and Professional Services, Global Affairs Canada: I’m here with respect to the Trade Commissioner Service. Yes, you’re right. We have been in a position where we haven’t been paying very much attention to the sector because it was de-prioritized in the past few years. We are also in the same position where we now have some of these new 16 positions abroad dedicated to trade and business development for the creative industries. So we’re working to rebuild the capacity in that area as well.
Some of it is having those officers on the ground work with local consultants to understand those markets better, and we also bring some of those new officers back to Ottawa for training. We work with them on a regular basis to try to get them the answers they need to better understand the business models in the various subsectors or streams.
Senator Bovey: I think having artists and artist organizations represented in some of the trade commissions that our provinces and our federal government is doing can really boost that as well. When we look at the economic impact of the Canadian arts scene abroad, having artists on those trade missions was very positive. I think that’s one reason that Alice Munro did well enough to get the Nobel Prize. She was part of how many readings around the world over many years and helped build up that profile.
Speaking about profile, then, Mr. Riel, you were around when at the Winnipeg Art Gallery we brought a major exhibition in from Ukraine, which was really important given the population of the province having a Ukrainian background. In many ways it could be argued that that’s an exhibition from another part of the world so it’s not relevant for all of this. On the other hand, it’s an exhibition that did a huge amount for the Manitoba-Ukrainian population. I also know there was a major Greek exhibition that I think came from 22 institutions that had been in the Canadian Museum of History.
That’s a way of empowering Canadian citizens from those countries. I wonder what stake Global Affairs has or thinks it might like to have in those kinds of opportunities.
Patrick Riel, Deputy Director, Cultural Diplomacy and Advocacy, Mission Support, Global Affairs Canada: There are a few things here. There is the matter of reciprocity, which for us is really important. There is also the matter of the funds available. When we look at funds available, it’s not that much money for all the 174 missions. If you divide that by 1.75 it doesn’t leave you with much.
We have to identify where we can go later on. As Stuart mentioned, we have to look at the data. We restarted everything in January 2017, so that’s really recent.
We have a lot of interesting challenges. We heard some from the chair. We love those challenges, but it will take a little bit of time to get through those, especially for events taking place in Canada and communities. We have to look at those.
For example, we are trying to see how we can bring buyers from abroad to showcases in Canada and how we can deal with those exchanges. These are initiatives that will have to be tested to see how much value for money there is and how much impact these can have, but we’re still at the beginning stage for analysis of those projects.
Senator Bovey: I was going to say that whatever money can go into it, however small, allows the generation of other monies to make the project work.
I remember one of the biggest grants I got from Foreign Affairs. Believe it or not, they said, “We only have $1,500 left.” I had asked for a lot more. But that was parlayed into tens of thousands of dollars from corporate and private support to make a project happen. So just know that Global Affairs money is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval that lets you go forward and take other steps.
Mr. Lundy: I wanted to add some comments based on an experience abroad. I had the honour of being the head of mission in Denmark in my last assignment abroad, so a small- or medium-sized mission.
Just to make the point that it’s not always only about money. I’m not underestimating the importance of that in understanding how we’re programming this and making decisions on it. Often artists and cultural groups are coming to embassies abroad not with cap in hand by any means. In fact, some of them are quite able to operate on their own, but they’re coming for advice on local conditions. They’re coming to use the embassy network. They’re asking for assistance at times in the promotion of their activities, so include them in a newsletter or on the embassy Facebook page.
Sometimes they’re asking just for attendance. The Canadian ambassador at that event is the seal of approval that you mentioned. They’re often coming to embassies offering opportunities. I loved to learn about Canadian cultural groups coming, and I could say that I’m going to invite six contacts that I need to spend time with, and I’m going to use this as the channel to do that.
Sometimes we can offer facilities. Even in a very small mission like I was at, a Canadian choir from a university outside of Sherbrooke came to town. It happened to coincide with an event we were running. I said that we will set up a stage for you. Again, no money involved, but it is that link with the embassy which is the face of Canada in that country. There is so much we can do that often doesn’t involve expenditure of a single dollar. I wanted to make that point. I know many around this table have also experienced that on the ground.
The Chair: Thank you. That’s very helpful; it’s a two-way street.
I understand there was a Cultural Industries Sectoral Advisory Group on International Trade at Global Affairs. Does that still exist, and has it been evaluated on any key outcomes of it?
Ms. Desmarteau: No, I don’t believe it still exists. It does still appear on the website, I understand, but I don’t believe it still exists. It may be a question you want to ask Canadian Heritage tomorrow because Minster Joly mentioned in her recent policy statement, Creative Canada, that she would have some sort of similar council.
The Chair: Could you report back whether you have any contact with it?
Ms. Desmarteau: We do not have any contact.
The Chair: Did you have? I would like to know historically how it came about and what ties to Foreign Affairs it had, and hopefully our analysts will prod me to ask the same question to Canadian Heritage.
That brings me to the whole point of modern technology, and I think Senator Bovey brought it up. You have a collection of 6,000. People should know about it and have access to it. It’s virtual travel now.
We don’t have to go to museums or art exhibitions. We can log on and see them. I don’t think we’re utilizing that as much in Foreign Affairs as we could across the world. We are now connected, and so we should be offering a lot. It would be a minimal cost, and you can plug into so many things now, where before you had to have either the paper or the person, as we used to say. Now you don’t.
Plus, of course, all the technologies that I don’t even understand. I’m still struggling with tweets and Facebook, but I hear about these other concepts. To what extent are we supporting culture with the new technologies and the tools that new artists are using?
Mr. Savage: On the first point, just to complete what I had said earlier, currently the collection is not online, but I understand there are efforts being undertaken to try to get it online. It’s a question of resources and time, but your point is well taken, and it reinforces the need for that effort.
On the digital side, we have supported artists who work in the digital realm through the fund, and I believe Heritage will be able to speak to that. There is a whole sector related to their export strategy, but I don’t want to speak for them.
We have definitely supported artists who do digital and modern, high-tech works that push the boundaries of what we traditionally understand as art.
The Chair: We haven’t talked too much about education. Are you linked up with the universities now, into their arts departments?
Mr. Savage: The short answer is not formally. There are other parts of Global Affairs that work with universities to promote them as a service for foreigners to come and study in Canada. As well, Mr. Lundy has some work on Canadian studies which he helps to encourage internationally. But from the arts perspective, we do not currently have a formal mechanism with universities.
The Chair: Working with Canadian artists in other countries, I was involved in a very innovative project between Inuit art and Kisii art in Kenya, and it was not really on their art; it was the business of art. We have cooperatives up North, and they worked together, and they had concepts that we spent years helping them develop. They were the resource to go into Kenya to work with the artists and say that you’re not getting anything for your art because it’s going to all the middlemen, so how do you start a business? How do you get involved? What does it entail? This is usually beyond artists in some of the countries that we work in. Is any of that going on? Or is that still as random as it used to be?
I’ll leave you thinking about that. What we’re looking at is we want to understand as much cultural activity that is going on in your department that we should know about and what are the possibilities.
The committee was very enthusiastic about doing a study on cultural diplomacy, and part of that is finding out where you are at and what the opportunities are and what we can reflect on and recommend perhaps to the Minister of Heritage, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or the Minister of International Trade to support cultural activity in Canada and be part of that whole pillar within foreign policy.
If there is anything else that you think we should know about in some corner or something innovative or that you have as part of your policies would be extremely helpful. It’s your homework that I am sending you back with. I apologize for that.
Thank you for coming before us today and being part of the start of our study. That’s why I say, on reflection, if there is anything else you think would be helpful for us to know in this study, please contact our clerk, Marie-Eve, and she’ll pass the information on to the committee.