Update on “Stand-Up Comedy as Art Form”

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July 31, 2018

Update on “Stand-Up Comedy as Art Form”

Lobbying Efforts and Meetings

On June 5th and 6th, CASC had meetings in Ottawa with the Canada Council for the Arts and the two Vice-Chairs of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. The purpose of these meetings was mostly exploratory and to share some of the work CASC has been doing with relevant stakeholders.

Purpose

The meetings with representatives of the Canada Council for the Arts primarily served to understand the Council’s perspective as to why stand-up comedy is excluded in their categories eligible for funding. The meetings with the Vice-Chairs of the Committee on Canadian Heritage served to raise awareness about the art form issue among decision-makers on all sides of the House of Commons. While we have received a positive response from the Chair of the committee, Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin, the meetings in Ottawa served to ensure that our message crossed party lines and that we are able to find allies among NDP and Conservative Parliamentarians.

Outcomes

The meeting with the Canada Council for the Arts included two representatives, the Director-General for Arts Granting Programs and a Senior Strategic Advisor for Arts Granting. Our prior research indicated that the Council is well aware of this issue and of their oversight of stand-up comedy in their application profile categories (called “Fields of Practice”). The meeting started on a positive note with the Director-General stating that they do in fact recognize stand-up comedy as an art form. However, as we continued to ask why we aren’t able to apply for funding, some of the biases of the Council came through, especially through the Senior Strategic Advisor. This was very useful research as we will be able to use these arguments when we discuss the issue with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and her policy team.

The meeting with the Conservative Vice-Chair of the Committee on Canadian Heritage, Peter Van Loan, was pretty straightforward. We were able to share our key messages and our concerns about not being able to apply for funding through the Canada Council for the Arts. The Member was sympathetic and shared suggestions for other Members and organizations we could reach out to. We will be maintaining this relationship in case our issue is raised in committee and we need additional support.

The meeting with the NDP Vice-Chair of the Committee on Canadian Heritage, Pierre Nantel, was very positive. Again, we were able to share our concerns and key messages. Being an artist himself, and being from Quebec, the Member has a lot of insight to share on how other artists have dealt with similar issues. He was very supportive and is someone we will reach out to regularly for input, contacts and ongoing support.

Next Steps

Our next steps will be to schedule meetings with the Policy team of the Minister of Heritage this summer, as they have expressed interest in meeting with us. We also have a call scheduled with a Liberal MP, who may be a strong ally and could be a good advisor for us given his many years of experience in Parliament, specifically with Heritage issues. Additionally, we are hoping to meet with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister in the fall. In the meantime, we will be sending a letter to the Minister, her policy team, the Parliamentary Secretary and the Canada Council for the Arts to follow-up on our meeting.

House of Commons Petitions

As you may know, our e-petition expired on June 26th with a total of 3,843 signatures and will be tabled in the House of Commons in the fall. You can see the “path” our e-petition took here. We will be sharing video footage of the tabling of the petition and will share the government’s response once we receive it. The government is required to respond to every petition tabled in the House of Commons within 45 calendar days of the tabling.

Additionally, we have started signing paper petitions at shows and events across the country. We already have a few hundred signatures collected. Unlike the e-petition, these can be done on paper and only require 25 signatures to be tabled. We are hoping to table as many of these separately as possible. PLEASE NOTE: If you would like a copy to print for one of your shows or if you would like us to mail a copy to you, please contact Sean Carson (sean@canadianstandup.ca).

MP Letter-Writing Campaign

We now have a letter-writing campaign up on our website! You can fill in your name, email address and postal code and it will automatically send a letter to your MP, a handful of Senators and your MPP raising awareness and asking them to write to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to have stand-up comedy recognized as an art form in Canada and to allow us to apply for funding through the Canada Council for the Arts.

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