Canadian Museums Association asks Prime Minister to fulfill promise to update National Museum Policy
OTTAWA, October 17, 2019 — As the 43rd Canadian Parliament gets underway, the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) has, in an open letter, called on the Prime Minister of Canada to fulfill his Party’s promise to review the National Museum Policy.
While the CMA was encouraged by the public commitment to review the more than 30 year-old policy, the association hopes that museum priorities will be further concretized in the upcoming Speech from the Throne and mandate letters to Cabinet.
During the election period, in collaboration with provincial and territorial colleagues, the CMA had insisted that political parties prioritize museums. The group emphasized the need for a review of the policy, a review of funding streams and a simplification of the funding application process, as well as an expansion of the Museums Assistance Program.
“In an increasingly divisive world, museums are uniquely positioned to unite us and defend our common good. However, without the critical changes we have highlighted, museums, large and small, are at risk of not being able to fulfill their much-needed role in our communities,” stated Dr. Vanda Vitali, Executive Director of the CMA, and Professor Jack Lohman, President of the CMA Board, in their co-signed letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We anticipate playing a central role and actively participating in the process of reviewing and updating the National Museum Policy, on behalf of our members and the museum community,” they noted.
In the coming weeks, in collaboration with provincial and territorial colleagues, the CMA will be writing relevant Cabinet Ministers and seeking meetings to discuss how best to work with the Government of Canada to advance museum issues.
POLITICAL PARTIES AND MUSEUMS
OTTAWA, October 17, 2019 — Last week, your national, provincial and territorial museums associations joined forces and issued open letters to federal political party leaders asking them to share their election commitments for the museum sector. We emphasized the need for and therefore recommended: a review and modernization of the National Museum Policy; a review of funding streams and simplification of the funding application process; and an expansion of the Museums Assistance Program.
Museum issues are important — and museum professionals’ votes count. Be sure to get out and vote!
While we urge you to read the party platforms in full, we have sourced some examples of commitments that have been made in party platforms regarding museums and cultural heritage:
MUSEUMS ASSOCIATIONS WRITE PARTY LEADERS, INSIST ON PRIORITIZING THE SECTOR
OTTAWA, October 8, 2019 — National, provincial and territorial museums associations sent joint letters today to the leaders of political parties, highlighting the importance of museums and seeking the parties’ positions on critical questions for the sector.
Party Leaders were asked to share their election commitments for the museum and heritage sector; their views on the importance and role of museums; and, if elected, how they intend to respond to recommendations made by the museum community. The associations intend to make the parties’ responses public.
"Museums play an increasingly important role in today’s society. They function as important social agents, with the capacity to unite us and defend our common good," said Dr. Vanda Vitali, Executive Director of the Canadian Museums Association.
"Without a greater commitment to museums and without critical changes to museum policy and approaches to funding, Canada’s museums, large and small, are at risk of not being able to fulfil their much-needed role in our communities."
The associations are encouraging concrete action on recommendations in Moving Forward — Towards a Stronger Canadian Museum Sector, a report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. These include:
Canadians and the sector clearly deserve a modern, up-to-date museum policy and approach reflecting the issues and needs of the 21st Century. Canada boasts some 2700 museums, cultural heritage and science-related centres. In 2015, Canadian museums annually accounted for over $2.5 billion in revenue - an increase of 23% since 2011. Supporting museums is a smart investment, impacting economic and cultural growth. A 2017 survey indicates that there are some 19,000 employees in museums and art galleries and some 65,000 volunteers who worked over 4.3 million hours. Daily visitor-ship to Canadian museums has increased 34% since 2011. Annual attendance at all museums reached 31.5 million in-person visits in 2017, with a 75% increase in online visits to museums since 2011, to reach 89.5 million overall online visits. In order to strengthen the contributions of museums to communities, education and cultural tourism further investment is needed.
Ottawa, July 23, 2019
Notice of Appointment: Reconciliation Museologist, SM Leduc
On behalf of the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Reconciliation Council, the CMA is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. SM Leduc to the position of Reconciliation Museologist. Ms. Leduc will oversee the development of a toolkit and final report that will address Canadian Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Call to Action #67, which calls on the CMA, with funding from the federal government and in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to undertake “a national review of museum policies and best practices.”
In this role, Ms. Leduc will collaborate with Indigenous communities, the CMA Reconciliation Council and other key stakeholders across the country. Her work will involve surveying and collecting feedback, identifying key issues, and producing clear and realistic recommendations to the museum community for the inclusion and representation of Indigenous communities within museums and cultural centres.
Ms. Leduc has worked throughout her career to improving the standard of living of Indigenous Canadians, holding positions as a researcher and project manager on various complex Indigenous legal and social policy issues over the last decade — including Modern Treaties, income assistance and health care, taxation, and housing and homelessness — both within the federal public service and non-profit sector. Prior to joining the CMA, Ms. Leduc was Manager of Policy and Research at the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association where she advocated on the right to housing for Indigenous Peoples.
“History and culture are transmitted through art and ceremony, and this link is often tenuous, broken over time through conflict and political decisions over access and rights. The curation of a museum and the story it communicates to the public is a way of fostering critical dialogue which goes above and beyond what is contained therein,” said Ms. Leduc. “CMA has a proven track record of working collaboratively with Indigenous Peoples, and I look forward to joining the Association and advancing the work underway on reconciliation.”
The CMA is enthusiastic for this important project to move to the next phase. “Museums are essential to the preservation of cultural diversity and appreciation says Dr. Vanda Vitali, Executive Director of the CMA. “I look forward to working with Ms. Leduc and the CMA Reconciliation Council as they embark on this ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive process.”
About the CMA Reconciliation Council:
NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT
The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) and its Executive Director and CEO, Dr. Vanda Vitali, are pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Anne-Marie Hayden to the position of Deputy Director, Public Affairs and Museum Advancement.
Ms. Hayden has 24 years of experience delivering communications and marketing services to the public, private and non-profit sectors, and 18 years of executive and management experience. Prior to joining the CMA, she was Executive Director, Communications with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. She was a member of its executive management board and responsible for all external and internal communications, including an extensive public education program. She served many Commissioners, each with their own vision for the mandate. In addition to her government experience, she was a public relations consultant for several years, providing services to various clients, including professional associations and other organizations in the non-profit sector, as well as in the cultural sector specifically.
“I am delighted Ms. Hayden has joined the CMA,” said Dr. Vitali.“As we go forward, I believe her communication and leadership expertise, as well as her collaborative and results-oriented nature, will help the CMA in its efforts to advocate effectively for our museums’ interests.”
Ms. Hayden is scheduled to start with the CMA on July 2, 2019. Her responsibilities will include overall management of projects and programs that serve the museum community in Canada. She will oversee public affairs, marketing and advocacy activities and work closely with the Executive Director on government relations. She will be the association’s key spokesperson, ensure delivery of the Young Canada Works program, and liaise with funding agencies.
“Museums and the professionals who work in the area play such a valuable role in our communities. I’m inspired by the CMA’s mandate and vision for the future,” said Ms. Hayden.“I am very much looking forward to working with CMA colleagues and the organization’s many stakeholders to help encourage an even greater appreciation for its contribution to society.”
About the CMA:
THE CMA APPLAUDS RECOMMENDATIONS ON CULTURAL DIPLOMACY
The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) supports the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s key recommendations that identifies cultural diplomacy as a pillar of Canada’s foreign policy.
“The CMA applauds these recommendations and is well positioned to assist the Canadian government as it explores International opportunities for effective and collaborative ventures” says Dr. Vanda Vitali, CMA’s Executive Director. “The CMA believe that culture and environment have to inform every action that Canada takes. We look forward to working with and contributing to the efforts made by Global Affairs Canada and others as they coordinate and deliver on this important cultural diplomacy strategy.”
About the CMA:
RESPONSE TO FEDERAL BUDGET
The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is pleased to see that the Federal budget just released for 2019 includes ongoing support for Youth Education and Employment, which the CMA has long recommended and managed. Both summer jobs and the internship programs would benefit from additional funding.
Government funding also provides financial support for a variety of established and to new programs, such as those that encourage indigenous languages, foster inclusion, or improve education.
The Federal Government’s budget for 2019 includes an intention to encourage Canadians to donate cultural property of “outstanding significance” and “national importance” to certain designated Canadian institutions, such as museums and public art galleries. Hopefully, this plan will ensure that important cultural property remains here, for the benefit of all.
"The Government of Canada is to be thanked for its foresight, financial support and recognition of the importance of museums and their essential role” stated Dr. Vanda Vitali, Executive Director of the CMA. “We look forward to continued federal support. The CMA and Canadian museums have been, and continue to be cultural leaders through our museum community across Canada.”
About the CMA:
Ottawa, February 6, 2019
Appointment of Dr. Vanda Vitali as new CMA Executive Director
Dr. Vanda Vitali — physicist, art historian, museum director, master planner, and a Canadian — is CMA’s new Executive Director.
Dr. Vitali, fluent in both official Canadian languages, has directed or been involved at a senior level with museums of various sizes and interests nationally, as well as with heritage, contemporary art, and overall cultural concerns globally. She has also taught museum and related studies here in Canada, in the United States, and in France.
Ms. Bachmann stated, "her comprehensive museum work over four decades has included archaeological preservation, conservation and collection management, as well as repatriation, exhibition development, and policy development." She added, "After a rigorous international executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to name Dr. Vitali to lead the CMA and articulate the value of museums and Canadian heritage."
Dr. Vitali was most recently the Chief Information Officer of the International Center for Innovation and Transfer of Technology in Jiaxing, China. Previously she has held roles as CEO of New Zealand’s Auckland Museum, Vice President for Public Programs at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, museology advisor to the president of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and director of the ROM's Institute of Contemporary Culture. Honoured by the World Academy for the Future of Women, she has also been designated as Chevalier of Art and Culture of France. In addition, she has been recipient of the Jim Blackaby Ingenuity Award from the AAM.
Dr. Vitali’s dedication to museums began when, as a 30-year-old physicist she was co-directing a National Geographic Society study of the Punic era in what is now Tunisia. “One afternoon,” she recalls, “the director of the Carthage Museum took me up to the 5th floor of a non-descript building at the edge of the property. He opened the door and there, covered by accumulated dust, lay thousands of funerary objects excavated by Catholic missionaries in the late 1800s. Bronze mirrors, ceramic statuettes, and incense burners. Ostrich-egg masks, ivory beads, combs. Glaze perfume bottles and beads. They had been hidden there, to be preserved and protected from destructive political or environmental conditions. I was the first foreign visitor to see this pile of ancient artifacts, an actual material history of ancient Carthage. Each object had a story to tell. I was overwhelmed and mesmerized. From that point on, I became dedicated to researching, presenting, and protecting heritage - stories of our past identities that we carry into the future.”
After being invited to become the CMA’s next Executive Director, Dr. Vitali stated, "I am deeply inspired by the CMA Board’s confidence in me, and by its commitment to move forward into the next era of Canadian museums in our society." She added "Museums are vital nodes in our network of local and global institutions that safeguard our memory and identity. In our interconnected world, museums have become ever more essential to the preservation of cultural diversity and appreciation. Museums are community anchors across our country, they are school partners and economic engines, they are for everyone, and they are trusted."
Dr. Vitali has created strong regional, national, and international alliances and she has been a tireless advocate for the recognition of, and importance of, museums in our contemporary society. She has been a consultant and museum evaluator for the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and has been a long-standing member of the CMA, of International Council of Museums (ICOM), and of the International Museum Institute.
CMA has nearly 2,000 members including non-profit museums, art galleries, science centres, aquaria, archives, sport halls-of-fame, artist-run centres, zoos and historic sites across Canada, and supports them with training and professional development programs, conferences, publications, networking opportunities, a body of knowledge, and a dedicated staff. Over the past 60 years, Canada's museums have developed an international reputation for excellent programming, dedicated public service, and high standards of professionalism. The CMA is governed by an elected Board of directors and maintains a full-service Secretariat in Ottawa.
McAvity Appointed CMA Director Emeritus
At its most recent meeting, the Board of Directors of the Canadian Museums Association unanimously passed a resolution to name John G. McAvity as the CMA’s first Director Emeritus.
“John has overseen our association for close to four decades and we are so happy he has agreed to undertake this new role” stated CMA President Karen Bachmann. “With John as Director Emeritus, future Board members and others will now be able to gain a historical perspective that might have been lost” she continued.
This honourary title is in recognition of Mr. McAvity’s exceptional dedication, leadership and support to the CMA as well as his ongoing passion for museums and galleries everywhere, not only in Canada but internationally. It also recognizes his 37 years of devoted service as the association’s Executive Director.
McAvity is credited for the growth of the Association from a handful of staff in 1981 to over 25 today, including successful fundraising. He is recognized for developing the CMA’s Advocacy role, lobbying for many improvements such as the $3 billion Indemnification Program, Young Canada Works, reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and expanding member benefits such as the group insurance program.
“John has literally been the voice of the museum sector for so long” stated Jack Lohman, CMA Vice President. “He appeared before countless Parliamentary Committees and was frequently interviewed by the media, always speaking for the benefit of the community.”
In his new role, Mr. McAvity will assist with the leadership transition and continue as a Board member of the Museums Foundation of Canada, and the Board of Can4Culture and its Canada-Asia program. McAvity has received many awards over the years including the Order of Canada and an Honourary Doctorate from the University of New Brunswick.
The CMA Board also want to congratulate Mr. McAvity on his recent retirement and look forward to many years of collaboration, advice and guidance in his new role as Director Emeritus.