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BriefsReportTable of ContentReport IndexRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences

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1. In the preceding pages of this second part of our Report in which we have presented our findings and recommendations, we have dealt with many established federal agencies and institutions. We have also made certain proposals concerning the universities of Canada and systems of scholarships which would enable the nation to discharge more effectively its responsibility to train the ablest of our younger citizens. All this is familiar, if not entirely neutral, ground. It is now our duty to make certain proposals concerning the creation of a new body, partly advisory, partly administrative in character, which, it is our conviction, would be able to resolve many of the problems which led some two years ago to the establishment of this Royal Commission. To this proposed new body, in discussing voluntary organizations, scholarships, the creative arts, UNESCO, and Canada's cultural relations abroad, we have already referred, either openly or by implication; and to the reader of the first part of this Report it must have been apparent that a new agency or new agencies of government were in our minds.

2. To this conclusion we were inevitably drawn early in our work when various voluntary organizations appeared before us. Whether their interest lay in drama, in music, in the arts and letters or in the humanities and social sciences, with but two or three exceptions they stated or implied that their work would be much aided if there existed some central bureau to serve as a clearing-house of information and to act as an intermediary between them and the government; if such a bureau could give positive help to their activities, so much the better. Early in our deliberations we decided that the principal questions to be determined were whether more than one such bureau would be necessary and how should such an agency be composed; of the need there appeared to be no doubt.

3. It will be recalled that the final clause in our Terms of Reference instructs us to examine and make recommendations upon the "relations


of the Government of Canada and any of its agencies with various national voluntary bodies operating in the field with which this inquiry will be concerned". On the need for closer relations between the Federal Government and Canadian voluntary organizations we have read or heard comments from one hundred and six societies and citizens, and in five of the special studies which we commissioned the question is discussed in greater or less detail. Moreover, several departments and agencies of government have given us helpful information on this important matter. The recommendations of the voluntary societies vary greatly; on the one extreme was advocated the establishment of a new Ministry of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs; and, on the other, the complete abstention of the Federal Government from all matters relating to the arts and letters; and with mingled feelings of pleasure and dismay we heard one proposal that this Commission remain in being as a permanent National Arts Board.

4. The problem for which we have been invited to find a solution may perhaps be expressed, though at the risk of over-simplification, in terms of the following factors which, it will be observed, differ considerably in complexity and importance:

(a)There does not exist in Canada any government-supported body to do for the arts and letters and for the humanities and social sciences what the National research Council does for the natural sciences and the technical crafts; this matter, which we regard as of prime importance, has been discussed at length earlier in this Report.
(b)Unlike most countries of the world we have in Canada no advisory or executive body to deal with the question of our cultural relations abroad. Earlier in this Report we have suggested that Canadian creative and interpretative artists would benefit both themselves and our country if it were made possible for them to travel for study and experience. We can also well believe that it might be in the public interest, for example, that a Canadian orchestra go on tour abroad, that exhibitions of Canadian paintings be arranged in Europe or that a Canadian theatrical company perform in Edinburgh or London or Paris. At present we have no organization such as the British Council or the French Section des Oeuvres Françaises à l'Etranger to arrange and to underwrite such ventures, although we judge it possible that a company of Canadian players or a Canadian orchestra might do as much for this country as has been done for Great Britain by the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company whose highly successful tours of the United States and Canada have been made possible by the British Council. These tours can be profitable, both financially and artistically;


but they cannot be undertaken at all unless their expenses are guaranteed.
(c)We do not possess in Canada a clearing-house or a centre of information on the arts, letters, humanities and social sciences. Inquiries from abroad often come to the Department of External Affairs which, unable to supply full and accurate information on all aspects of Canadian culture, refers the inquiries to one or another of the voluntary organizations, (The Canadian Music Council, the Social Sciences research Council, the Dominion Drama Festival, the Canadian Arts Council). Most of these organizations operate on a very modest scale, and it is not generally appreciated that they find the burden of gathering the information and of answering inquiries, whether from abroad or from within the country, far heavier than their restricted resources can endure. We are informed, for example, that the Canada Foundation corresponded during 1949 with organizations and individuals in forty-two countries, and that its time is almost fully occupied in dealing with inquiries from Canada and from abroad. Very few of our voluntary organizations are affluent enough to employ a full-time secretary;1 but, as they reasonably point out, they are constantly invited to assume, particularly in the interest of Canada's cultural relations abroad, the role of an information centre which many of them feel is a national responsibility.
(d)There are in Canada many voluntary bodies whose work is of national importance but whose resources are inadequate for their growth or even for their survival. It seems to us demonstrable that the expenditure of public money, not large in amount but wisely directed, would ensure the continuance of these organizations, and that this would be in the public interest. There does not now exist in Canada any Board or Council to advise the Government on this matter. Moreover, as we notice in an earlier chapter, there are in Canada certain voluntary bodies which now receive small subventions from the Federal Government. We believe that a Board or Council competent to advise the government on its present and future subvention lists for voluntary organizations concerned with the arts and letters and with the humanities and social sciences would be a useful innovation and an administrative improvement.
(e)Although Canada is a member of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, there is not yet established in Canada any form of National Commission for UNESCO;


an undertaking to create such a Commission or an equivalent forms part of the UNESCO Constitution which Canada has accepted.
(f)Although music and drama and ballet of professional excellence are available in a limited degree to a few of our larger urban centres, our smaller centres, apart from those contracting with concert bureaux, are largely dependent on the radio and on moving pictures, an inadequate substitute for the concert artist and the living drama. On the other hand, there are many Canadians gifted in music or the dramatic arts who, unable to venture on concert tours because of our great distances and costly travel, must be content with a precarious and unrewarding life in Canada, or go abroad where their talents are in demand.

5. These are the principal though by no means all the difficulties which have been brought to our attention by so many public-spirited organizations and citizens. Many of these problems stem, of course, from the stern realities of our geography and economics and for them there may be no full solution, although it is our belief that they may be mitigated by wise and determined action. We are faced, it seems to us, by a three-fold problem: cultural activity within Canada, cultural relations abroad, Canada's relationship with UNESCO; and we have been at great pains to determine whether this problem must necessarily be resolved by a three-fold recommendation, or whether a single answer could be discovered.

6. As an essential part of our inquiry we secured from many countries abroad precise and detailed information on the manner in which these general problems had been met. In this part of our study, however, we did not fail to bear in mind a point which was very clearly expressed to us in the submission of the Canada Foundation:

"When national policy for development of the arts, letters and sciences in Canada is devised, first consideration should be given to the specific and peculiar needs of Canada, and only secondary consideration should be given to the application of policies and methods adopted by other countries for the solution of their specific and peculiar cultural problems."2

On the second and third aspects of the problem noted above (cultural relations abroad and relationship with UNESCO) we found the experience of other countries of considerable interest and value to us, and reference has been made to this in earlier chapters. On the principal question, however, of the manner in which our Federal Government can properly and realistically contribute to the enrichment of Canadian cultural life, we have, with one important exception, not unnaturally received little help from abroad. Quite apart from the fact that the problems confronting


us have little in common with those in other countries, we find that in general they are dealt with abroad by a centralized Ministry of National Education or by a Ministry of Cultural Affairs, arrangements which, of course, in Canada are constitutionally impossible or undesirable; for we may say at this point that we are unable to agree with the submissions made to us recommending a new Ministry of Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs.

7. The one exception referred to above is the Arts Council of Great Britain; and we think it worthwhile to give a brief account of its origin and growth. On the outbreak of war in 1939, with black-out conditions and shiftings of the population, the prospects of the arts and of artists were seriously affected. Theatres and art galleries were closed, concerts could not be held, but at the same time there arose a great demand for the stimulus and relaxation which only the arts can give. Those who had known such things felt their loss keenly; others who had never heard fine music or visited a theatre or looked at original paintings became aware of what they had missed. To meet a widespread demand, a private organization, (The Pilgrim Trust), made available £25,000 to encourage the arts in wartime, and a Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (C.E.M.A.) was formed early in 1940. Public response to the early activities of the Council was so encouraging that at the end of three months the Treasury agreed to make a grant of £50,000 conditional on the finding of a like sum from non-governmental sources; and for two years this project was financed by the Treasury and the Pilgrim Trust.

8. In 1942 the Treasury assumed entire financial responsibility for this essential wartime measure and rapidly increased its grants until in 1945-46 they amounted to £235,000. By the end of the war in Europe the main activities of this organization were so closely linked with the general cultural well-being of the nation that its continuance in peace time was highly desirable. The Chancellor of the Exchequer accordingly announced in the House of Commons in June of 1945 that this body was to be established on a permanent basis and was to be named the Arts Council of Great Britain with the object of encouraging knowledge, understanding and practice of the arts2a.

9. In studying the work and the activities of the Arts Council of Great Britain we have noticed with particular interest the Council's awareness of the dangers inherent in any system of subvention by the central government to the arts and letters and to the culture of the country generally. At the time when the Arts Council was founded in 1945 the late Lord Keynes, then Chairman of the Arts Council, in a broadcast address spoke in part as follows:

"I do not believe it is yet realized what an important thing has happened. State patronage of the arts has crept in. It has hap-


pened in a very English, informal, unostentatious way, half baked if you like. A semi-independent body is provided with modest funds to stimulate, comfort and support any societies or bodies brought together on private or local initiative which are striving with serious purpose and a reasonable prospect of success to present for public enjoyment the arts of drama, music and painting.
"At last the public exchequer has recognized the support and encouragement of the civilizing arts of life as part of their duty. But we do not intend to socialize this side of social endeavour. Whatever views may be held by the lately warring parties, whom you have been hearing every evening at this hour, about socializing industry, everyone, I fancy, recognizes that the work of the artist in all its aspects is, of its nature, individual and free, undisciplined, unregimented, uncontrolled. The artist walks where the breath of the spirit blows him. He cannot be told his direction; he does not know it himself. But he leads the rest of us into fresh pastures and teaches us to love and to enjoy what we often begin by rejecting, enlarging our sensibility and purifying our instincts. The task of an official body is not to teach or to censor, but to give courage, confidence and opportunity".3

10. Sir Ernest Pooley, Chairman of the Arts Council, spoke thus to representatives of the Local Authorities of Great Britain who met on June 9, 1949, in London to discuss the 1951 Festival of Britain:

"As you know, the Arts Council is established by charter and its objects are to develop a greater knowledge, practice and understanding of the Arts, to increase the accessibility of the Arts to the people through the realm, and to improve the standard of execution.
"We are trying to do all these things, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully. We administer a Treasury grant; but we act independently. This is a very important experiment--State support for the Arts without State control."4

11. The Arts Council of Great Britain is, of course, concerned with the promotion of music and the arts, notably painting and the drama, only within Great Britain. To stimulate the knowledge abroad of the English language, of English literature and of British culture generally, and to foster close cultural relations with other countries, a separate body exists known as the British Council which was founded by the Government of Great Britain in 1935; its purpose and activities are discussed in an earlier chapter. We do not believe that the creation in Canada of a similar body with parallel responsibilities is either necessary or desirable. The encouragement of the arts and letters in this country, we believe, cannot be dissociated from our cultural relationships with countries abroad, and the creation of a separate body for this latter purpose would be otiose and could lead only to wasteful overlapping of functions.

12. We have considered with great care the very numerous representa-


tions from voluntary organizations on the importance of setting up in Canada a National Commission for UNESCO, as contemplated in the UNESCO Constitution, in order to make the work of this international body as effective as possible within our country, and that we may duly fulfil our own obligations abroad. We considered a number of detailed plans presented to us to determine whether in practice they would properly fulfil the main purposes of UNESCO--to facilitate in every possible way educational and cultural exchanges on an international scale as a means to better understanding. We have also considered the great variety of National Commissions which have been set up in various countries abroad.

13. Without implying criticism of the practices of other nations, we believe that Canada's purposes can best be served, not by setting up an additional body to promote the aims of UNESCO, but rather by recognizing that those aims would best be attained by strengthening and furthering the work of organizations already in the field. We have also recalled an observation made to us in another connection, that since our problems differ from those of other countries, we must not hesitate when it seems necessary to find new and different solutions. A council to stimulate the arts and letters in this country, particularly if it were also charged with the encouragement of Canada's relations abroad, would be doing exactly the kind of work which must be undertaken by a National Commission for UNESCO: it must maintain close relations with voluntary organizations in Canada; it must take an active interest in projects of general education; it must interest itself in all cultural affairs, and in these matters it must be prepared to exchange information with UNESCO and related international organizations. It might not, it is true, be designed to carry on the scientific exchanges which are an important part of the work of UNESCO. It could no doubt for this purpose secure the co-operation of the National research Council which has numerous international affiliations. We believe therefore that if one agency were created to concern itself with voluntary effort in the arts, letters, and social sciences, to encourage cultural exchanges, and at the same time to act as a National Commission for UNESCO, wasteful duplication would be avoided and the influence and the prestige of the organization would be strengthened.5

14. In writing this Report we have been forced to turn again and again to the dangerous neglect of the humanities and social sciences, studies essential to the maintenance of civilized life. It was suggested to us that the success of the National research Council in the encouragement of scientific studies offered an example that should perhaps be followed in the establishment of a National Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences. We believe, however, that the implied parallel is misleading; that the essential nature and value of these studies makes


it undesirable to isolate them in a separate body; that their present "plight" may be partly explained, as we have previously suggested, by an effort to subject them too rigidly to scientific techniques and methods of organization. Moreover, we are convinced that, in our country particularly, encouragement of these studies must be carried on to a considerable extent through international exchanges, and through closer contacts with France, Great Britain and with other European countries where traditionally they are held in great respect. We think that the very important responsibility of encouraging these studies through a flexible scheme of scholarships and grants can best be carried out by an organization which will be obliged by its other responsibilities to keep in the closest touch with cultural affairs at home and abroad, and with universities, particularly with Canadian universities which, as we have seen, are the focal point for so many of our cultural activities.

We therefore recommend:

a.That a body be created to be known as the Canada Council for the Encouragement of the Arts, Letters, Humanities and Social Sciences to stimulate and to help voluntary organizations within these fields, to foster Canada's cultural relations abroad, to perform the functions of a national commission for UNESCO, and to devise and administer a system of scholarships as recommended in Chapter XXII.

15. We have given great care, in our deliberations, to the many submissions made to us concerning the appropriate composition of such a Council, notably from Canadian artists and writers who have urged that a Council be established which would be representative of their professional organizations. With this view we are unable to agree. We judge that the members of a policy-making body to be concerned with many complex aspects of Canadian life should be free to consider all problems before them without the restraints which normally would bind them too closely to the organization or to the group which they would represent. We were confirmed in this view by our decision to recommend one body only for the various functions which we have described, functions which cannot properly be carried on by a rigidly representative body. This is not to say, however, that a Canadian artist, a Canadian musician, a Canadian writer, or a Canadian scholar should not serve on the Council; if he does, however, he should sit in his capacity as a distinguished and public-spirited Canadian citizen rather than as the representative of a particular organization or institution, or of a specialized art. We should also consider it a misfortune if this Canada Council became in any sense a department of government, but we realize that since this


body will be spending public money it must be in an effective manner responsible to the Government and hence to Parliament.

16. It is apparent that the members of this Council should have those qualities, both individually and collectively, which would permit them to discharge suitably their grave responsibilities of encouraging the arts and letters, the humanities and social sciences, and of making most effective Canada's cultural relationships with other countries. For its complex and disparate duties we should imagine that the Canada Council would find it advisable to establish permanent committees on which the members would sit in accordance with their special experience and interests; it is, however, our view that in considering UNESCO matters the Council would find it essential to meet as a body.

We therefore recommend:

b.That the Canada Council be composed of fifteen members including a chairman and vice-chairman, all to be appointed by Order in Council, and that appointments be made so that the Council shall be properly representative of the cultures and of the various regions of Canada.
c.That the Canada Council meet as may be found necessary but not less than four times a year; that the offices of the chairman and vice-chairman be full-time appointments; that other members of the Council serve without annual remuneration, but that they be granted their travelling and living expenses and an appropriate per diem fee while engaged on the Council's business; and that the Council be provided with the necessary secretarial staff.

17. We do not think it advisable that officers of the Federal Government sit as members of the proposed Council; but in its deliberations it would undoubtedly need the expert advice of many departments of government. Similarly, in dealing with such special subjects as music, letters and creative arts, the Council would, we are confident, wish to draw upon the specialized knowledge and experience of many voluntary organizations and of individuals. For this purpose the Council might find it advisable to appoint advisory committees. We think it particularly important that in dealing, for example, with UNESCO matters the Council should work in closest association both with those voluntary organizations through which the work of UNESCO may be made effective in Canada and with certain departments of government, including those of Finance and External Affairs.


We therefore recommend:

d.That the Canada Council have the authority to invite to its sessions officers of departments and agencies of the Government, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board, and that it give consideration to the appointment of advisory committees in the principal fields with which it will be concerned.

18. We do not think it practicable or desirable that this Commission attempt to define in detail all the duties of the proposed Council. It will be clear, however, from our previous explanation of its functions that some of these are definite and precise, and that others can be described only in a general directive leaving particular policies to be developed by the Council through practical experience.

19. Of the functions which can be defined with some precision, the first are those of a National Commission for UNESCO. The Constitution of UNESCO and the practice of various member states suggest that a National Commission to perform its functions properly must, as we have said, keep in close touch with all interested voluntary organizations and must keep them in touch with each other, with the government of the country, and with UNESCO.

We therefore recommend:

e.That the Canada Council invite to an annual conference on UNESCO affairs representatives of not more than twenty national voluntary organizations competent to give advice on UNESCO matters; that of the twenty organizations not more than ten be nominated as permanent members of the annual conference; that the remainder be nominated for one year only, until all interested organizations have been represented; that the expenses of the conference, including the travelling and living expenses of the delegates, be borne by the Council.
f.That the Canada Council take appropriate measures to extend the knowledge in Canada of UNESCO's purposes and programmes and in turn to ensure that those policies and practices best calculated to win the support and the confidence of the Canadian people are brought, through the Department of External Affairs, to the attention of the general conference of UNESCO.

20. A second definite function of the Council we have already dealt with in our recommendations on scholarships, and this is also discussed in the present chapter. We have recommended that those responsible


for drawing up a plan for scholarships in the humanities and social sciences bear in mind the valuable experience of the National research Council in this field. This does not mean that there should be a mechanical reproduction of an existing scheme, but rather that the Canada Council, as did the National research Council, proceed gradually, working in close co-operation with university authorities and with voluntary bodies interested in the field. It is of the greatest importance that money made available for these scholarships be wisely spent not only to avoid waste, but to gain for the plan the prestige and the public support which we believe it to deserve.

21. To a third useful and even essential function of the proposed Canada Council we have referred at least by implication earlier in this chapter in commenting upon the fact that there does not exist in Canada a centre of information to which inquiries on the arts, letters, humanities and social sciences, both from abroad and from within Canada, could be directed. We have already recommended that the Canada Council perform the functions of a National Commission for UNESCO; for this purpose alone it seems to us apparent that a well-organized information centre will be an immediate necessity since much of the work of a national commission for UNESCO involves the assembling of information on various aspects of national life to make possible effective co-operation in the general programme of UNESCO. In addition, such an information centre could assume most of the burden of replying to inquiries, on matters within the scope of the Canada Council, from abroad and from within Canada, a task which in the past has been left largely to voluntary organizations.

We therefore recommend:

g.That the Canada Council proceed as rapidly as possible to establish a central office of information on those aspects of the arts, letters, humanities and social sciences which fall within its competence.

22. Of the other duties of the Canada Council we shall not speak precisely. Throughout the earlier part of our Report we have pointed out certain deficiencies in our national equipment as a civilized country, many of them of long standing; and we have now stated our conviction that many of these deficiencies might be most readily dealt with by a central body supported by federal funds but exercising wide powers of independent action. We are in full agreement that "the support and encouragement of the civilizing arts of life", in Lord Keynes' phrase, is a state duty; we believe that such a Council as we have proposed would be an effective means of providing this encouragement and support. The methods which should be adopted to this end will depend on many factors including


the extent to which the council can by wise and practicable decisions commend itself to the confidence of the Canadian people; it may however be found useful if we suggest some of the other responsibilities which in our view the proposed Council might assume.

We therefore recommend:

h.That the Canada Council, without limiting its freedom to advance the arts and letters, the humanities and social sciences in Canada, and to promote a knowledge of Canada abroad in the ways and by the means which it will judge appropriate, give consideration to the following proposals:
(i)The strengthening, by money grants and in other ways, of certain of the Canadian voluntary organizations on whose active well-being the work of the Council will in large measure depend.
(ii)The encouragement of Canadian music, drama and ballet (through the appropriate voluntary organizations and in co-operation with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board) by such means as the underwriting of tours, the commissioning of music for events of national importance, and the establishment of awards to young people of promise whose talents have been revealed in national festivals of music, drama or the ballet.
(iii)The promotion of a knowledge of Canada abroad by such means as foreign tours by Canadian lecturers and by performers in music, ballet and drama, and by the exhibition abroad of Canadian art in its varied forms.

23. We are under no illusion that the results which we trust may be achieved from the creation of the Canada Council can be attained cheaply; indeed, we observed in the introduction to this part of our Report that if we in Canada want a more generous and better cultural fare we must pay for it. It is obvious that the system of scholarships and awards mentioned above and the furtherance of the work of UNESCO in Canada would cost considerable sums of money. We have already remarked that the Council must count heavily upon the support of voluntary organizations in Canada and hence no doubt would find it economical to subsidize certain of them with modest amounts of money in order to make its own work practicable and effective. The Canada Council would need a competent staff and its secretary or senior officer would have duties at least as exacting as those of most deputy ministers. There would thus be inevitably certain immediate fixed expenses if the work of the


Council is to be worth-while. The development of the Council's work would naturally depend upon the extent to which it would be able to satisfy with wisdom and moderation a real public need, and, if successful in this, we do not doubt that there would be public support of parliamentary action in making adequate funds available to it. We do not find it possible to propose specific sums; we should, however, imagine that the Council would find it possible to perform its varied duties effectively with an annual budget which would constitute a very slight charge upon all members of the Canadian population. We venture to believe that our fellow-citizens would find this investment modest in relation to the returns which, we are confident, they could reasonably expect.

We wish to place on record a warm tribute to the devoted service of our Secretaries, Mr. Archibald A. Day and Mr. René Garneau. Their ability, energy and enthusiasm have been of the utmost help to us in our task. We wish also to express our sincere thanks to the other members of our staff, for the zeal and efficiency which they have shown in their work.

* From: Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Report. Ottawa : King's Printer, 1951. By permission of the Privy Council Office.

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