Meeting with the CC
Dear Micheline and Shannon,
Thank you for being available the other day for a meeting. I appreciated the update, despite the fact that in the end I felt quite discouraged at the prospects for the CEC. I hope that we can keep in touch, as it is useful for us to understand some of the thinking behind proposed changes and developments and it is also clearly necessary for us to clarify various points about the CEC's positions and mandates, as our conversation revealed. For instance, I was struck that at the beginning of the meeting, you seemed to feel that the fact that several composers of electroacoustics do receive individual grants was significant, whereas we accept this as a natural occurrence, resulting in part from past activity of the CEC, but are more concerned at the moment with issues of a much broader nature, such as the strengthening of the entire community at regional and national levels, the exposure of a wide variety of electroacoustic works to a larger public through various formats, etc. Likewise, I was disappointed that our attempt to clarify that the CEC does not think of itself as member-driven had not been made sufficiently clear or, worse, was not accepted as a relevant distinction to the ASO definition, although your admission that the definition of an ASO is unclear to many people involved in the review means that perhaps our view can be incorporated into future models.
Since you expressed some puzzlement as to the purpose of different individuals' visits to the Canada Council and their respective representation of CEC or individual views, I would like to reiterate that although we are happy to have different perspectives from different artists who work in electroacoustics, visits from Board members such as mine the other day should be considered the "official" contacts, as it should go without saying that the Board initiates and is subsequently informed of the content of such visits, passing on relevant information as appropriate to the members.
As to the question of non-CEC-members in the field representing valid concerns, that is of course probable, but they remain the positions of individuals or perhaps at the most, small groups. Since the CEC mandate is to be as inclusive as possible, criticism of the CEC as being insufficiently supportive of particular aesthetics or modes of presentation are criticisms that could be met by a combination of improved funding to the organization and a more active participation in the CEC itself by individuals who might hold such an opinion. Given the established international recognition of the CEC by other national electroacoustic and related organizations and people, it would be at least impractical to dissolve it or set up a parallel organization, and our nation-wide representation (on the board as well as general membership) and the far-flung members of the list-serv cecdiscuss suggest that many more people are supportive of the directions which the CEC is taking than not. Of course, it is quite clear to us that a national electroacoustic association has more objectives to reach than we are able to at the present, but this is clearly a matter of funding. As I mentioned at our meeting, we would be very appreciative if you would direct any individuals in the field who have strong visions and energy to implement them to contact us, if they have not already, so that we can continue to embrace the concerns of as wide a number as possible.
I was reflecting on the irony of several of our board members, including myself, having spent so much time composing reports on behalf of the CEC for the Canada Council this winter, when in fact if we had spent the time working on increasing our visibility and searching for alternate methods of funds, we would probably be in a much stronger position right now. It is becoming increasingly impossible to find the time and energy needed among the various volunteers on and off the board for the administrative and fundraising efforts necessary to revitalize the CEC so that it can once more take its place as a strong and vital national organization in the music and arts contexts. We understand the difficulty of solving some of the fundamental problems when you are working exclusively from the music section of the Canada Council, when in fact the electroacoustic field is historically diverse: as I mentioned at our meeting, some of the artists are working in what could easily be called "sonic arts", some in multi-media, some in the very avant-garde exploration of new technology, and some in an almost traditional compositional style. Since we are proud of this diversity, it makes it difficult - even distasteful - to find a "single voice" although I realize that from the point of view of bureaucracy this might simplify matters.
I will not continue here, as you already have our opinions on many of your questions in several formats and perspectives. I do thank you for your patience with trying to understand our apparently unfamiliar field, and hope that we will have more fruitful discussions. Meanwhile, we await the summary report which Shannon indicated was being prepared for belated distribution. We are arranging a meeting with Harold Boies of the Department of Canadian Heritage, as you kindly suggested, to identify ourselves and our activities and see if we can find some financial or at least moral support from that entity.
I would be happy to answer any questions you might have, or to forward them to the Board as appropriate; we are pleased that you are working to improve the relevance of the programmes to the current activity in the arts.
Sincerely, Dr. Rosemary Mountain