CEC reply to ASO questions
responding in her capacity as President of the CEC
This response has been prepared by Rosemary Mountain, President of the CEC, in consultation with other members of the Board of Directors, in an attempt to reflect as accurately as possible the reality of the CEC and its position on the questions asked. We plan to post this questionnaire and our response to it for the information of our members, and sincerely hope that our recommendations for continued discussion will be followed, so that other members of the CEC will have an opportunity to participate more fully in what we see as a significant move towards a more equitable distribution of monies to foster a healthier Canadian cultural life.
For the sake of brevity / clarity, the following abbreviations are used: CEC = Communaute Electroacoustique Canadienne / Canadian Electroacoustic Community; ea = electroacoustics, in the wider sense of the term, embracing electronic, musique concrete, computer music, radiophonics, sonic art, etc. "ea / cm / sa" is also sometimes used.
The CEC website refers to the address https://cec.sonus.ca
It is strongly recommended that the website be viewed by any parties interested in understanding the CEC functioning, as its content, format, and structure reflect the concerns of the CEC at the present time. Even a cursory viewing will reveal the gist of these concerns: a more careful perusal will yield a more detailed picture. Because many members have been involved in preparing different areas of the site, in terms of music, articles, layout, links, etc., it is really a collective effort of the organization. Links to the site can be found on most of the key websites of electroacoustics internationally, and are beginning to appear on more general music sites.
1. Give a brief history of your organization.
Below is a timeline which highlights the principal events and major accomplishments of the CEC from just before incorporation in 1986 to the present.
2. The Mandate of the organization
The CEC is the national Canadian electroacoustic/computer music (ea/cm) organization (as recognized by the Confédération Internationale de Musique Électroacoustique (CIME) and the International Computer Music Association (ICMA) - the two official UNESCO international electroacoustic/computer music associations).
Among the objectives, as written in the Bylaws of the corporation, are the [art. d] support, development, production, distribution of information, materials, works [art. a] for the ea/cm community in Canada with continuing special concern for the younger generation of individuals and women in this community; [art. k] The CEC recognizes and supports the principle of sexual equality, and also, the equal status of English and French. (Please see bylaws.html, Objects of the corporation.)
Support, promotion, and of late, production of Canadian composers and their works. (Please see
bylaws.html, Objects of the corporation, [art. a, c, d].)
THE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY National organizations: Canadian Leauge of Composers (CLC) Association of Canadian Women Composers (ACWC) Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC) Some sample regional organizations: Association of Atlantic Composers, Manitoba Compsoers Association, Alberta Composers Association, etc. Organizations - answer these questions according to your organizational practice, mandate and history Individuals - answer these questions according to your personal experience, membership and perceptions
3. If you consider your organization to be an arts service organization, why? If you do not, why not and what do you consider your organization to be?
Although we do not presume to understand all the nuances of the term "arts service organization" as used by the Canada Council, we do not believe that present models accurately depict all of the functions of the CEC, especially the fact that the CEC operates on behalf of the whole community, and not just the paying members. We find that there is a confusion relating to the question of whether our organization is a "members" organization, and also when we try to understand the definition of an ASO by examining the profile and functions of the various prominent new music organizations in the country, such as the CLC, CMC, ACWC, CEC, etc. and wondering how the Canada Council views these organizations.
"Members'" organizations seem to be those which act on behalf of their members: members receive benefits that non-members do not. This question is particularly vexing to the CEC as there are many reasons for becoming a member, and the CEC attempts to act to better the conditions of all practitioners of the art. The various sections of the Canada Council with which the CEC has spoken to, on behalf of sound / sonic art have come to recognize that the CEC is not 'simply' one thing. It represents its members, but also speaks for ea / cm in general. It devotes resources to the improvement of conditions for all practitioners, both within and outside the country. While giving preferential rates (for CD releases) to Permanent CEC members, no one is excluded simply on the basis of non-membership. The archival / collection(s) that the CEC calls upon include works by members and non-members.
Our main function is to re-invent the context for electroacoustics, in ways which are defined by the membership and / or recommended by the board, advisory panel, etc. As many of the members are electroacoustic composers / artists, it is naturally possible to view such an improvement as providing a service to them, but this is not the motivating principle of the organization. CEC members recognize that ea is consistently overlooked / undervalued (in Canada and worldwide), due to various factors such as its non-dependence on live performance (so that the frequency of its dissemination cannot be determined by the scrutiny of concert programmes) and its non-dependence on discrete pitch organization, quantized rhythmic patterns, and the lack of accompanying scores, which has caused it to be overlooked in traditional analysis, and musicology in general, evolved to focus on graphic representation of pitch structures and durations.
4. What is the membership of your organization (size and selection criteria)?
The membership is approximately 150, but as stated earlier, is not limited to this number as the creation of a new context for ea requires the inclusion of a great many individuals. There are several categories of membership: Patron, Honorary, Permanent, Associate and exchange memberships .The first patron of the CEC was the widow of Hugh LeCaine: the present patron being Allan Mattes. Pioneers from the 'first generation' of ea/cm practice are Honorary Members. The CEC recognizes that it has a place in the fabric of Canadian society and culture and that the CEC and contemporary practitioners stand on the shoulders of theses pioneers.
Exchange memberships have been established with other ea /cm / sa organizations (such as with SAN [UK] and SEAMUS [US]) on a reciprocal basis to help connect the Canadian ea community with other national and international organizations with similar interests.
The criterium for becoming an associate member is paying membership fees, which is assumed to be a gesture in support of the CEC mandate. Many but not all of the members are composers / artists in the electroacoustics media; some are teachers (all levels), musicologists, broadcasters, producers, journalists, etc. and some are institutions and organizations (including sister organizations from other countries). Some memberships are held by libraries and universities. The CEC's activities in raising the educational profile of ea/cm, plus its expanding archival materials and its expanding base of unique publication, to the web and as CDs, make membership attractive to individuals, groups, organizations and educational institutions with shared interests and goals.
5. What services and/or activities does your organization provide its members? (e.g., education, skills development, professional development, seminars, conferences, lobbying, etc.)
Due to the diversity of the membership, as sketched in no. 4 above, this question is not easily answered. A principal, but not easily seen, service is the creation and development of a sense of community at local, regional, national and international level. Another (not easily seen) service is that of providing access to resources and opportunities for younger and emerging sound artists.
While not limited to members, services and activities of the CEC include:
promotion - includes the representation of the community at regional, national and international concerts, conferences and festivals, and increasingly high profile distribution of members' works on CD, as well as an exceptionally strong website presence.
education - the <trudy> and <lecaine> listservs of the CEC are dedicated in particular to educational issues; this is considered essential not only for the education of the "general public" about ea / cm / sa, but also for those young people who may be drawn to the sonic art but are unaware of the existence of such a rich and varied field.
Many threads of <cecdiscuss> are also related to matters of education, drawing on the collective knowledge of its subscribers (many of whom teach ea in higher education), including the clarification of historical mileposts in ea, polls on the way in which general and specific issues in ea courses are taught, recommended bibliography on specific areas within ea, clarification of terminology and methods for description and analysis of ea, ways of promoting ea among children, etc. Efforts are being made to inform the music community at large of the wealth of material on the CEC website which can be used for research, by students, teachers, researchers, reviewers, and general public.
conferences - the CEC organized 4 successful national conferences between 1986-1991. Severely reduced funding has made the planning of conferences an unaffordable luxury since then, although virtual meetings have helped alleviate this lack. It has also had an official presence, by invitation, at other conferences such as the US sister organization SEAMUS and the 1995 meeting of the International Computer Music Conference in Banff, Alberta. The recent production of CDs by the CEC has also led to various festival organizers worldwide to organize concerts under the theme of the CEC. However, it is clear that the energy from the initial conferences were of great benefit to participants and helped strengthen the community's presence in Canada, so board members are currently working on securing partners and/or sponsors to enable the planning of a conference in Montreal in 2002/2003.
lobbying - as the national organization for ea in Canada, the CEC has had much opportunity for lobbying for a field that has traditionally been marginalized. However, the effectiveness of the lobbying has been severely hampered by the lack of funds and the resulting dependence of the energy and goodwill of the board members. Nonetheless, it is felt that progress has been made in many areas to have ea music recognized as a significant and growing part of Canadian culture.
discussion forum / information distribution - The open, unmoderated list-serv <cecdiscuss> is extremely active, with often more than 50 messages a day, on subjects ranging from educational issues (see above, "education"); aesthetics; pooling of technical knowledge about hardware, software, interfaces, acoustics, diffusion, etc.: historical clarification; theoretical & analytical issues; perceptual and cognitive issues; gender; etc. to more purely informational areas such as notices of concerts, radio broadcasts, web broadcasts, festivals, conferences, soundwalks, visiting artist residencies, etc. and recommendation of books, articles, websites, CDs, etc. Given the quality and variety of responses which emerge to any thought-provoking question, due in part to the participation of more than 400 subscribers at present, including many of the most active and several of the most senior members of the international ea community, the list-serv has a very favourable international reputation. It is also used by the UK national ea / cm / sa organization Sonic Arts Network (SAN) as their official channel of communication.
6. What publications does your organization use to communicate with its members? (e.g., newsletters, electronic communications, etc.)
While there are 'formal' means of communication, now that more than 95% of CEC members are on email, the CEC contacts its members (and others) between 5 and 40 times per day, in the form of general notices of interest to the ea community at large which are posted to <cecdiscuss>. Notices of specific interest to CEC members are sent in electronic format in the news flyer eFlash!, which superseded the paper version Flash! (started in 1988) in 1997. eFlash! is sent generally four times a year, with extra issues being sent out in case of special timely updates. The few members not on e-mail are sent paper copies of eFlash! econtact! is the current main publication, which superseded the original Bulletin CEC Newsletter (1986-88) and the subsequent Contact! (1988-97). It features audio and video clips as well as articles, reviews, interviews and scores. In keeping with its history of innovative use of new technology, the format of econtact! is taking advantage of the possibilities of web publication and maintains all issues of the journal as open, so that each "issue" focusses on a particular subject or area while growing through time. WEBradio is a publication featuring works which are difficult to access on traditional dissemination systems, and the CD series of DISContact!, PRESENCE, and the latest series for young and emerging sound artists Cache, are sent to members of the CEC and to key people and institutions in Canada and around the globe, providing solid examples of the state of Canadian ea as well, of course, as providing a major means of communication for the composers represented by the CDs.
7. How many meetings does your organization have annually?
There is one annual general meeting, with extra meetings being called if deemed necessary. Due to the central role in the CEC of electronic transmission of information, the traditional concept of an official physical meeting of everyone at the same time and place is evolving into a more fluid daily-to-weekly contact of most members with most other members. The board meets very frequently, often daily, through a closed list.
8. What is the nomination/selection process for the executive positions in your organization?
Executive positions are nominated and selected by the membership; specific positions are defined by the board as appropriate.
9. How long is the mandate for each executive position?
The usual mandate is 2 years, however many board members have been reelected and served longer terms. The Board retains extremely good relations with former Board members, and a number remain on the Board mailing list even after they are 'officially' no longer voting members. In fact, few issues get to the stage of a vote as there is general consensus on most issues even before they come up for formal presentation. This comes about through the continuous (and constant) contact and presence of the CEC in the lives of ea /cm /sa practitioners (in Canada and around the world).
10. Has the primary means of communication (e.g., newsletters, meeting, e-mail) changed over the past few years for your organization?
Yes. As expressed in questions 5 (conferences) and 6, the move in the CEC has been towards the virtual away from the paper-based. This has been partly a result of severely-reduced funding, and partly as a perception of a more efficient and sensible way of conducting our affairs. The move to electronic from paper was endorsed by the membership. Due to the technological basis of ea, it is not surprising that the membership felt comfortable with such a move. However, there are doubtless many people outside of the field who would know more of the existence of ea if we were to disseminate news of our activities by more traditional means. In addition, the overwhelming number of list-servs and e-mails in the daily life of a modern member of our Western society suggests that the medium's popularity may cause its own demise, or at least that other strategies may have to be employed. The CEC, whose members have a history of evaluating technologies, expect to continue reflection on such issues.
The recent foray into CD production is likewise a move into new means of communication for the CEC. Hearing the music of fellow members is one of the strongest factors in the formation and maintenance of community. The accessibility provided by CDs has been a great boon in this sense, and also in the sense that it has made those who live outside the major urban centres less isolated. However, it is not the CEC's intention to have the CD render other forms of presentation of ea as obsolete, but rather to serve as another complementary form of presentation which might be quite appropriate for certain (types of) work.
11. Do any of your publications reach beyond the membership to a national or international audience?
The CEC publications, specifically econtact! and the CDs, clearly reach out beyond its membership, as can be judged by the response on the website and on the list-serv, as well as in conversation with ea supporters in other countries. The CDs are sent for free to many hundred organisations, producers, radio stations, etc around the globe.
12. How does your organization measure or evaluate its services to the community?
There are several forms of measurement. The most explicit might be considered that of the role of the advisory board <cecpanel> (includes members of the ACWC, CMC and the CLC), which links the board to the community through regional and institutional representatives. However, there are numerous gauges of our actions in the community. The international reputation of the CEC as an organization which daily promotes the cause of ea in diverse and innovative ways, and the international reputation of individual members, is verifiable by consulting members of the ea community globally. Many composers, editors, arts administrators, festival organizers, researchers, etc. have contacted the CEC through their own initiative; it is common for us to have international visitors to Canada request a meeting with CEC Board members, to talk, share ideas and possibly invite collaborations on projects. Specific board members have crossed Canada periodically (averaging to every three years) with the aim of speaking with regional representatives and hearing their concerns in face to face meetings. The YESA Juries involve over 40 national and internationally based ea/cm practitioners and most of them express a sense of pride in being asked to participate in a CEC sponsored project. The CEC was given official 'ex officio' status on the Board of SEAMUS some 5 years ago and developing parallel formal ties with SAN. On a more continuous basis, the feedback from the list-serv <cecdiscuss> is sufficiently frequent and varied in source and origin that it can provide a very sensitive barometer.
It has been the Board's conviction that the unevenness of support from the Canada Council coupled with the continued ignorance of many colleagues about the ea field in general should not be treated as an indicator of the CEC's abilities to provide service to its community; however, as the lack of funding wears away at the energy of the individual board members, those members who have not had close contact with the board may interpret such weakening of support as significant.
13. Does your organization review or update its mandate?
The mandate is very expansive, inclusive, clear, and very central to the community. It attempts to avoid overlap with similar organizations in Canada. Because of this breadth and the flexibility of the Board and membership, CEC transformations are both rapid and successful.
14. Does your organization communicate with other new music service organizations, share initiatives or jointly send representatives to conferences?
Yes. The <cecpanel> (see above, no. 12) includes members from other organizations including the ACWC, CLC and CMC. Our sister organization in the US, SEAMUS, has a policy of ex-oficio board member exchange with us. We are asked to send a representative to the ISCM Canadian jury annually, and board and ex-board members in particular often serve on boards of other organizations such as CASE (Canadian Association of Sound Ecology) and occasionally to serve as advisors / jurors / curators to international organizations and festivals. The CEC has a history of initiating contact and joint projects with the CMC, ACWC and CLC. The first 'official' CMC contact was in 1985, two years before the CEC 'officially' existed, at which time it was agreed that informal contact would be maintained with the national and regional offices. Board members have visited CEC offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal on several occasions to discuss matters of common concern and interest. The CLC and the CMC have become increasingly aware of the legitimacy of electroacoustics as a valid means of musical expression. In 1991, the Canada Council, Concordia University and the Montreal Urban Community Arts Council jointly sponsored a meeting of representatives of the CMC, CLC, ACWC and the CEC that created the CCMN (Canadian Contemporary Music Network) which led to some joint projects (DAT archiving for the CEC and the CMC, and the broadsheet calandar of events, Scratch!
15. What percentage of overlap exists among the three arts service organizations in terms of membership?
?? check lists ?? We know that a few of our members belong to the other groups mentioned. (Note no. 14). We also notice that the CMC is not included in this review, which creates some difficulties regarding 'arts service', since both the CLC and ACWC are (potentially) well-served by the CMC in terms of library, archiving, dissemination, and promotion ... of works of its members. The CLC also has space in the building which houses the CMC.
16. Who are the primary constituents (practitioners in the new music art form) served by your / each organization and what are the tangible benefits to the new music constituents being served?
According to one perspective, the primary constituents could be seen as the composers/artists of ea, regardless of whether or not they are members of the CEC, or live in Canada. However, by sheer numbers, these are far outweighed by those who are not particularly involved with ea, but who know of its existence or are taught by those who have a knowledge of it, since they will have a fuller sense of the musical and cultural language of our time. The tangibility of the benefits thus depends on the sensitivity and long-range perception of the individual, as one of the main benefits is in the increasing recognition of ea, producing more equilibrium in the new music field and a healthier context for the creation of artworks. To those who belong to the Canadian ea community, an easily noted 'tangible benefit' is the sense of community itself, known by all
who have met other practitioners first through the virtual world of CEC publications and communications infrastructure (lists etc), and then met them in person. As Canada is recognized as a leader in the international ea/cm/sa community in many countries (including the USA, UK, France, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Mexico, etc) the role of the CEC in fostering the sense of community has often indirect but vital impact on the musical / artistic Canadian culture as a whole.
More immediately tangible benefits are the dissemination of works through CDs, radio, website sound clips, and concerts promoted by the CEC. For young and emerging artists, the establishment of the YESA project (see <https://econtact.ca/YESA/Yesaindex.htm> and <https://econtact.ca/Yesa2/2001index.htm> ) provides an excellent opportunity for exposure and constructive criticism / evaluation of their work by an international jury. The wealth of material on the website, verbal, visual and sonic, provide tangible benefits for anyone interested in discovering more about the field of ea in general: this includes current and potential student composers, reviewers, researchers, professors, etc.
17. Who are the practitioners not being served by these organizations? How would the community benefit from their inclusion in an arts service organization?
The practitioners not being served by the national organizations mentioned are hard to identify - they may be people who would have gone into the field of sonic art, for example, but did not have a clear enough sense of the field and were not aware of the possibilities of the CEC as a supporter of such activities. Due to the incompatibility of clearly-defined areas, historical trends, and creativity, there are areas of cross-media expression which may not be adequately met by these organizations but are too "conservative" or not sufficiently experimental, or otherwise not matching a predetermined (if unconscious) model to be well-represented by these organizations. Other areas which might be left out are those of "cross-over" music, where a composer combines styles from more than one cultural tradition.
There are also always going to be people who are simply not compatible with a "group" or "community" mentality - those who would rather not define their areas of working, for example, and might feel that to become a member of one of the arts service organizations would be to pigeon-hole themselves unduly. There are many practicing artists who have left Canada due to dissatisfaction with the funding process and the attitudes towards arts in general; these people may be unlikely to want to join organizations that have been traditionally funded by the Canada Council and similar peer-oriented jury systems due to a suspicion of the internal politics and policies of the organizations. Or there might be some who have strong aesthetic (or personal) differences with key people in the organization and who are unable / unwilling to put these aside for the benefits perceived. In the ea community, there may be some who enjoy the benefits of the CEC work but do not want to pay the membership fee. Etc.
The CEC has always maintained an inclusive policy, so that in most cases for example projects are open to non-members as well, so that the community could always benefit
from those who might have something to offer but have not officially "joined" the organization. However, the idea of artificially creating an arts service organization "from above" to ensure that all practitioners are "served" may be a futile exercise, whereas responding openly and with enthusiasm to small groups of artists who have noticed their own common interests is much more likely to help the growth of healthy expression.
18. How does each of the three organizations define its membership in terms of: a) composers b) performers c) improvisers d) producers e) gender f) generation - ie: younger practicioners g) technology h) new performance and composition practices - technological, social and cultural
See no. 4. We have a diverse membership, embracing composers, performers, improvisers, producers, both sexes, younger practitioners (see YESA project - https://econtact.ca/YESA/Yesaindex.htm). By definition, electroacoustics practitioners use technology for creation of their artwork. However, the gap between the minimum level of technological expertise of an ea artist and the "average person" is continually shrinking.
New performance and compositional practices -
The ea practitioner tends to be more comfortable with the range of 20th century performance and compositional practices than some other composers. However, given that the active field is 50 years old (that is, older than the lifetime of many of the CEC members), we find it hard to grasp what is considered "new". Because the ea field is by definition smaller than the field of composition in general (ea, acoustic, mixed, multi-modal) there may in fact be a bit less exposure to really new performance and compositional practices. Nonetheless, the continual evolution of software and hardware makes most ea practitioners quite conscious of new possibilities implied by such developments, and the discussions on the active list-serv <cecdiscuss> often focusses attention on speculation and experimentation. Events such as the CEC Journees Electro-Radio Days (1993) which allowed live-to-air performances and interactive ea/cm keep the members aware of the rich variety of performance possibilities.
19. How do these organizations recruit their members?
See no. 4. Membership is recommended to those who encounter CEC or ea activity in classrooms, concerts, on the radio, on CD, in clubs, etc. and who appear to be intrigued or at least curious. The CEC has not had the funds to plan a concerted national membership drive. However, the production of CDs (which are receiving favourable reviews) and their free distribution to members helps to persuade those who have been members to renew.
20. Do the organizations include members from all regions of the country?
Yes. (See website for list of members).
21. Are there national or regional issues that have an impact on the services provided to the new music community?.( e.g,: language, gender, cultural diversity, regionality, representation, inclusivity & exclusivity, etc.)
We attempt to guarantee an inclusivity by maintaining a representative cross-section in the infrastructure of the organization (including gender, language, regional diversity in the constitution of board, panel, juries for YESA project, etc.) and encourage discussion about the possible impact of such issues on ea in various forms. The encouragement / promotion of young and emerging artists in the YESA project,as well as devoting two issues of eContact! to the theme of women in ea, are two of the more visible expressions of this policy, though these reflect only some aspects of our efforts to redress the balance in these areas and promote diversity of expression and means of incorporating ea techniques / aesthetics / concepts to new and renewed artforms.
22. Have there been previous organizational models which benefited the community? If so, how and why? What led to their demise as organizations?
We are in contact with board members / arts administrators / organizers of ea organizations worldwide, and benefit from the growing pool of experience, knowledge and strategies employed successfully and unsuccessfully by all of us. In addition, the discussions with others within the CEC community and the ea community at large help us to identify and analyze areas of concern / problems of communication / support, etc., for which the collective creative strengths of the members enable us to find often innovative solutions.23. How do similar organizations in music and other disciplines serve as models, or not, for the new this artform with regard to both structure and mandate? (e.g., PACT (theatre), Le Regroupment or Dance Ontario (dance) and in music, Orchestras Canada and POCC (opera), the Folk Alliance, Jazz Alliance and WestCan Jazz, etc.)
In the earliest years, the CEC founders benefitted from a survey of what groups were in existence and how they operated. We have grown organically since then and are more often models for other groups than vice versa.
ISSUES 24. Indicate any initiatives or issues coming from organizations in the new music milieu in recent years (failed or successful) that may have been affected by the presence or lack of service organizations.
The presence of service organizations helped foster particular trends in artistic development in the country and by default helped erode others. A sense by many not directly involved in the arts that the cultural activities of the country were being supported by the government, coupled with a lack of comprehensive education programmes especially for young people, often led to a complacency and lack of support by the community for new music and art. Within the new music community, there has been a sense of extreme discouragement by many who were not involved with "mainstream" practices by what seemed inordinate amounts of money funding certain projects while others were left to flounder. The reinforcement of orchestras, for example, regardless of their fulfillment of a "new music quota", and despite the orchestra being a more typically 19th century rather than 20th (or even 17th century) ensemble, was easily interpreted as a factor in the marginalization of new music. Electroacoustics, which tends to suffer anyway from inclusion in the 20th century repertoire planning by many groups (see no. 3), was perhaps less deterred from what was cynically seen as a typical prejudice, and was able by means of technology, which is part of the medium, to bypass much of the issue of regular spaces for diffusion. Funding by the Canada Council, in conjunction with immense energy and personal resources of board members and other volunteers, enabled the CEC to continue with its mandate; the drastic cutbacks and completely uncertain budget allocations from year to year in recent times have almost crippled their activities.
To the extent that the CEC could be considered a service organization, in that its mandate helps create a more favourable climate for the development, presentation, and dissemination to a wider audience of ea works, the situation for ea has improved in Canada since its inception, though the rate of increase in benefits has weakened proportionally since the funding of the CEC was severely cut. The community has benefitted from the sharing of creative works, pooling of information, increased awareness of the ea history and current developments and the role of Canadians in it, through conferences, correspondence, journals, CDs, radio shows, etc. which could not have been (easily) accomplished in isolation.
25. What are the most important issues in the community that are addressed by the current service organizations?
The maintenance of the current service organizations after the elimination of others has contributed almost single-handedly to the loss of sense of individual and collective identity and isolation that has resulted from the loss of values of 'community'. Decisions over the past few years that "the individual" is more important than "the community" have affected the arts community, and their impact on the younger members in particular is immeasurable. The long-term effects of cutting off support for community development are not seen overnight, but there is isolation, a lack of direction, and development of profound mistrust for governmental bodies.
The Canada Council's concerted effort to reduce, eradicate , or overwhelm smaller communities by merging them into undifferentiated masses has contributed to the fragmentation of a number of artistic disciplines. Resources need to be made available to 'community' organization that work to develop broad-based and community values, rather than smaller 'members only / membership needs driven' organizations who place 'service' to their own members above wider cultural values.
26. What are the most important issues in the community that are not addressed by the current service organizations?
Despite prolonged efforts on the part of the CEC, we do not seem to be having sufficient impact on the planning of long-range guidelines for the encouragement of artistic growth and increased awareness of the various manifestations of cultural activities in the country. The related issue of research vs. creative activity is also problematic (see below). In addition, the issue of copyright, which is of extreme importance not only for economic reasons but also as a reflection of value placed on the creative acts of our artists, has been given insufficient attention by the government and industry despite the efforts of the CEC and others in the new music and arts milieux.
It appears that the specific goals of some service organizations are (a) not sufficiently flexible, (b) not established in response to the (constantly changing) activities and preferences of the community, and (c) not sufficiently concerned with a general long-range vision of cultural education of the Canadian people. There has been a strong implication of value judgments on certain types of art forms over others (which might be understood, for example, as traditionally bourgeois, DWEM, etc.) so that it seems to reflect an opinion that, for example, although innovative integration of Quebec fiddle tradition, or electric guitars, or Persian improvisation practices, or electroacoustic music, might be an interesting experiment, it will only reach maturity when transformed into a more traditionally European classical form. A related problem is in the assumption by many people, even within the new music milieu, that the traditional concert format is still the most important and valid means of presenting music. This is ironic given the visible prevalence of CDs and portable CD players which characterize our modern society, and the less visible but still significant growth in web-based diffusion (from live interactive broadcasts to internet radio and mp3 files) and of course the incorporation of sound in TV, film, and video, whether in art, documentary, sit-com, incidental, or advertizing contexts. Such increasingly arbitrary divisions and ranking of medium is even more pronounced in the more far-reaching issue of the boundaries of music with other art forms - from the perspective of the ea field, the boundaries between music and art are quite indistinct. This is not considered a problem except in the context of applying for funding or in programme planning when the criteria for funding or programming have been too strictly defined.
There is also a serious and deep-rooted problem in the traditional and current practice of separating research and artistic creation into two separate and distinct camps. This is being confronted in Fine Arts and Music Faculties across Canada and in other countries. As long as they are kept separate, artistic creation founded upon serious research into relevant areas (which might be the subject matter, the process, the material and its manipulation, the formal structure, the means of dissemination, the historical context, etc.) will be unsupported while artists who do not take the time for such research will be rewarded. More long-reaching effects, if not more serious, will result from the anomaly of a lack of serious research in artistic fields at the level of higher education which helps discredit the artistic areas in general, making them seem like frivolous partners rather than serious coworkers who have an expertise in understanding non-verbal expression and creative problem-solving. This is of detriment to all fields, not simply the arts. It is becoming more visibly ironic in view of the increasing popularity of multimedia presentation of research in all fields: scientists and researchers in the humanities are exploring the use of the interactive CD-Rom and the internet as standard dissemination tools, while the arts, who have the longest history of exploration of these media and the most experience in their manipulation for expressive communication, have been taught to consider their own experience as irrelevant in any larger sense of contributions to the academic community. Fields of research which include a cross-disciplinary component are being encouraged in all areas of universities except, in many cases, the fine arts. Therefore, a project where psychologists / cognitive scientists investigate musical perception, for example, or the investigation of room acoustics by sound engineers, can be funded by the SSHRC, but a complementary project initiated by a musician will not only be turned down by the SSHRC but also by the Canada Council. As a result, collaborative work between artists and scientists is discouraged, and the scientific results are often visibly distorted from the lack of expertise contributed by artists at a fundamental level.
The formation of dynamic and knowledgeable teachers for all levels of education will continue to be very erratic without a comprehensive overhaul of this unnatural (if common) rift.
See also answers no. 24 and 32.
27. What resources - i.e., time, expertise, maintenance, etc. - would be needed to address these issues? (re: Question 25)
Clearly, the issues which have been referred to in question 26 imply our recommendation for a drastic restructuring. However, the fact of the current surveys indicate that the Canada Council is aware of a need for at least a re-examination of the efficiency and fairness of the present structure, so we take this as an encouraging sign that solutions to these increasingly urgent and deep-rooted flaws can be found.
At the very least, it is suggested that surveys such as the present ones being carried out by the Canada Council New Music and Media Arts areas should be carried out on a more constant basis, through intentional networking with key arts organizations in all regions of Canada, with a less hierarchical approach, so that the "peer review" system, for example, is complemented by a non-fixed community of people who are drawn from a wide range of areas in the arts and who work in a variety of functions - artists, administrators, producers, etc. - so that a clearer and more frequently updated picture is retained of current trends in the arts and their appreciation. If it were carried out as a constant process, it would not need to be so exhaustive nor so formal, and the members of the community would be much more able to contact someone in the local district whenever they had a thought about a current, proposed, or potential plan / idea / structure. Although list-servs can be overwhelming when very active, they remain an excellent means of instant dissemination of ideas and feedback from a large community. They make a good supplement / complement to face-to-face meetings and ensure that when people do meet in person, many of the issues which each one has been contemplating are already familiar to them, making ensuing conversation far more efficient and less likely to end in frustration.
Implicit in this recommendation is the idea that the Canada Council needs to have an organizational structure which incorporates flexibility and adaptability at its very core. We can assume that technology will continue to change, and that this will have continual impact on every aspect of art and its dissemination. Likewise, the idea of being able to define principle and secondary forms of art should be abandoned in favour of an interest to maintain a quality and diversity in artistic expressions.
More emphasis should be placed on the development of an educated public, which means having extensive thought given to the education of young people especially. The backing of existing centres for art & music criticism and the establishment of new ones might help bolster the area of intelligent journalism, reviews, and other reporting of cultural affairs which at the present is extremely uneven in quality and coverage. The development of a cultural events website, with critical reviews, visual and sonic samples, etc., has been pioneered by the CEC for the ea community and would not be difficult to set up on a national scale for the art community as a whole. It is a very effective tool for fostering awareness, when well-designed and free of domination by one region, aesthetic or artform - this could be achieved easily by having a website with multiple subsites or links each managed by different groups - some representing regions, some representing specific media, some representing different themes, etc.
28.Indicate any changes or trends seen in recent years within the existing service organizations, including
a. Real - resources, funding, funding cuts, new granting programs, changing technology
Insofar as the CEC can be considered a service organization, it has exhibited a continually changing face in response to various trends. Dwindling resources have meant that many of the jobs we consider essential to the running of the CEC have not been able to be "farmed out" so they have been covered by volunteers. These volunteers are often composers, researchers, etc and the effect on their other work is often invisible to any but themselves and their close associates, but may have resulted in important creative and intellectual work not progressing at the speed it should have, and sometimes not ever being accomplished. The changing technology has permitted the development of a sophisticated website with sound clips of ea and (soon) soundscapes in multiple formats for streaming, occasional live broadcasts of ea concerts, possibly virtual conference node in the near future, etc. as well as the webzine / online journal econtact! (see no. 6 ) The Publishing section of the Canada Council has recently recognized the significance of econtact! through a promise of (at least temporary) support.
b. Implicit - new ways of thinking, new initiatives from the community, new energy/players, burnout/reluctance
The advancement of HTML and web technology have enabled CEC members to study the potential of such tools for research and creative communication. The first manifestation of the study was the creation of the CEC website itself, and others include the development of the content of that site, including the journal, soundclips, and reviews. The enthusiastic response from the international community to this webpage, and to the CDs which have been produced recently, have helped inject some new energy into the CEC membership and international recognition of the organisation itself. However, the continuing difficulty with other issues discussed above particularly lack of funding and narrow vision reflected in programming by the Canada Council and other administrators and organizers, have meant that many ideas coming from the CEC membership are not able to be realized.
29. Indicate initiatives in other performing arts disciplines which could be applicable or modified to suit the new music community.
We are a large and diverse enough community that initiatives in other disciplines are responded to quite naturally by practioners in our own. This is one aspect of our encouragement of cross-fertilization, lack of anxiety about fuzzy boundaries, etc. There are always benefits from sharing ideas with those from other disciplines, such as the lobbying efforts by other performing arts disciplines to obtain suitable theatre / renovated buildings facilities. With more stable and significant funding, it would be much more feasible for such sharing of ideas, and potential pooling of resources, to be a more deliberate and integrated act with the overall planning of diverse groups, rather than being left to the sporadic adoption of ideas arising from casual contact.
30. Indicate issues that you consider could be more easily resolved than others, including solutions that would require additional resources.
The issues of restructuring, ensuring flexibility, and accepting the blurring of divisions between artforms and their dissemination could be easily resolved with concentrated effort and openmindedness, preferably in the context of a meeting of people from a variety of areas of expertise and interests. It would involve the rewriting of guidelines etc to ensure the more equitable distribution of funds according to the Canada Council mandate. The only real block to such a restructuring would be the reluctance of some parties to relinquish the status quo (i.e. those who benefit most from it), while the cost would be largely in the subsequent changing of information on the web and any printed information and other means of diffusion. In order to maintain open channels of information between all participants in the community at the various levels, it would merely require the establishment of a list-serv and an archive on the website for the messages. Due to the vastness of the country, it would be extremely beneficial to have conferences from time to time, regional and national, where people would have a chance to meet and talk. Having the list-serv and conferences accessible to those from non-art areas would also encourage more cross-fertilization and would help in bringing together people who might then be able to set up the necessary protocol for creating stronger and more official links between art, humanities, sciences, industry, mass media, etc.
31. Indicate issues that you consider to be larger and therefore need to be identified to further analysis.
In general, further analysis can take place as the recommended changes are being implemented; the analysis should be participated in by the community as a whole, and be ongoing. When serious critical research is accepted as a part of serious artistic endeavours, further refinements to the changes can be incorporated as appropriate.
Some of these issues relate to the fundamental change in thinking that must accompany serious attempts at support of the cultural life of the country. For example, there is a perception by many involved in the arts that success and adaptability are penalized. Newness is sometimes confused with continuing innovation, and an ability to secure funds from one source indicate a capacity to exist without the original funding. Organizations such as the CEC have a huge pool of collective energy and ideas which, with suitable financial support, could help create an even more dynamic artistic milieu.
32. Can service organizations serve an art form made of many diverse practices and structures as well as they serve more homogenous artistic practices and structures such as orchestras and theatres where the breadth of scale, practice and structure exist?
We find this a confusing question, as it implies that a service organization which rewards homogeneity in the diverse world of music is a worthy practice. It is possible to take the view that the funding of musical organizations by, for example, the sheer detail of orchestration (so that works for a specified ensemble are treated differently from works for a different instrumentation) is promoting an archaic and inappropriate set of models for our young people. Likewise, the idea that organizations which are set up to support / encourage artistic endeavours but do not allow for diversity or freedom of growth can be questioned.
33. Do you have any other ideas or comments concerning the role of arts service organizations in the new music community?
Yes, but they can wait until tomorrow.... You have enough to digest for the moment.