Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

June 06, 2008 14:10 ET

Ontario Artists Undervalued, Not Celebrated

Attention: Arts/Entertainment Editor, Assignment Editor, Media Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 6, 2008) - As Ontario prepares for its first ever Celebrate Our Artists weekend, artists continue to call on the provincial government to address the real socio-economic issues facing arts and cultural workers in Ontario.

SpOtlight: Ontario's first Celebrate Our Artists weekend festival, a pilot project of the Ministry of Culture in Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford and Waterloo. This festival is the sum result of election campaign promises and years of consultation to provide Ontario's Artists with the supports they need to help the province flourish.

They promised so much more and artists need so much more.

The festival encourages Ontario citizens to "experience the arts, learn more about the creative process, and meet the artists and arts organizations that make these communities and their neighbourhoods thrive"(1). This laudable statement is deserving of our support but while artists help communities thrive, our government is not doing enough to help the artists themselves survive.

As acknowledged by the Minister of Culture's own Advisory Council in its 2006 report (2), the average annual earnings of Ontario artists at $26,800 is almost one quarter less than the overall labour force in Ontario. Artists in many Ontario cities earn less than $20,000 despite the fact that the percentage of artists with postsecondary qualifications is nearly double that of the overall labour force. The nature of work in the arts and cultural sector results in 44% of Ontario artists being self-employed compared to 7% of the overall labour force. Self-employed status excludes Ontario artists from benefits extended to other workers, including employment insurance, disability, vacation pay, parental leave, statutory holidays and retirement plans.

Unions representing professional arts and cultural workers in Ontario have called on the McGuinty government to deliver on its 2003 election promise to introduce meaningful Status of the Artist Legislation that would provide Ontario artists with better working and living conditions. Our requests, supported by the Minister's Advisory Council Report, included standardized protection for children, tax benefits to mitigate income fluctuations and employment insecurity, access to social benefits, housing, dignity for older artists, and recognition of collective bargaining rights for self-employed artists.

The Ontario government's Status of Ontario's Artists Act, 2007, failed to address any of the critical issues identified by artists and artists' organizations, and consequently does nothing to improve the ability of artists to earn a liveable wage in Ontario.

The Act may have established Ontario's "Celebrate the Artist" weekend, but for artists, there's precious little to celebrate.

Signed,
* AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MUSICIANS OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA (AFM)
* ALLIANCE OF CANADIAN CINEMA, TELEVISION AND RADIO ARTISTS (ACTRA)
* BRANTFORD MUSICIANS' ASSOCIATION
* CANADIAN ARTISTS REPRESENTATION/LE FRONT DES ARTISTES CANADIENS (CARFAC)
* MAYWORKS FESTIVAL
* NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BROADCAST EMPLOYEES & TECHNICIANS (NABET) 700 - COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA (CEP)
* ONTARIO FEDERATION OF LABOUR
* WRITERS GUILD OF CANADA
* WRITERS' UNION OF CANADA

______________________________________________

1 Ontario Arts Council. spOtlight: Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford and Waterloo
http://www.arts.on.ca/Page2261.aspx
2 Status of the Artist Sub-Committee, the Minister's Advisory Council for Arts and Culture (2006). Report on the Socio-economic Status of the Artist in the 21st Century.

cope343
/For further information: Chris Faulkner, ACTRA Toronto Performers: 416.642.6710
Kristian Clarke, Executive Director, CARFAC Ontario: 416.340.8850/ IN: ENTERTAINMENT, LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Terry Downey, OFL Executive Vice-President
    Primary Phone: 416-578-3230
    Secondary Phone: 416-443-7650
    Toll-Free: 800-668-9138