Letter to Department of Canadian Heritage Review of Cultural Policies, Regulations and Legislation from DC Reid
Hi Justin Trudeau and Mélanie Joly
During the Department of Canadian Heritage’s review of cultural policies, legislation and so on, I hope you will keep as your first item: paying artists a living salary so they can make their art.
The sad reality is that artists receive so little income that the Writers Union has calculated that the median income for a writer is $5,000. It should not be this way, but it is this bad, and has been so for decades. It is finally time to pay artists for creating Canada’s culture just as is done in Europe. We don’t have pension plans either, and these would be thankfully received, as well. Please consider that when the time comes for you to receive your pension, one year of it will exceed what virtually all artists make in their entire careers.
My 13th book will be published in early 2017, and the sad reality is that I have never been able to live off my 40 years of artistic writing, despite winning many awards. I am also at work on a half dozen other books that I don’t expect to earn me a decent income, if nothing changes. Don’t spend millions on your review, and then not pay artists. Please pay artists a living wage as your first priority, or don’t bother doing the review. Many arts, for example, poetry, can never provide an income for poets, yet it is important to Canada’s view of itself, now and in the future, that the poetry be written.
In addition, the Copyright Act needs updating, including Harper’s giving away all of our remaining income to the social policy goal of giving Canadians free access to the information they expect to get for free on the internet. Giving this away, should be coupled with governments paying artists for their work. I am also a digital artist and the situation is the same for those of us moving into the future of new art forms. In this new and exciting frontier, I have six websites and blogs. Google: DC Reid and you can find out what I do.
Finally, Access Copyright and Public Lending Right are shadows of what they should be. It grieves me to note that the base AC payment for an artist is about $75. It really is that bad.
Stats Can’s most recent figures – 2010 – for the industry perspective are that the GDP of culture industries was $53.4 billion, 3.4% of Canada’s GDP and 707,012 jobs. And yet artists have no income for their contribution.
Please address the ongoing reality of an artist’s life, and do the right thing.
This letter from DC Reid to Canadian Heritage Minister and our Prime Minister details the problem of culture in Canada - primarily that artists cannot sustain themselves. The question is how will we know ourselves if the only paid voice comes from the corporate world?