Museums Hard Hit by Federal Cuts



    MONTREAL, Aug. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Along with artists and other
professionals working in most cultural disciplines, museum-related
institutions are affected directly by the wave of funding cuts announced by
the Harper government and Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status
of Women and Official Languages. Several museums and museums associations
across Canada - and in particular, Quebec-based organizations that were
frequent users of this type of support - will be impacted by cuts to the Trade
Routes contributions program and the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability
Program.
    The dismay of the museum world is all the more intensified in light of
significant losses sustained by this community since the Conservatives came to
power. "We have already experienced a funding loss since the Museums
Assistance Program - the only federal program set up exclusively for
museum-related institutions - had its budget cut by 25% during the short but
dismal tenure of Minister Bev Oda at Canadian Heritage," recalled Michel
Perron, Executive Director of the Société des musées québécois (SMQ), a
nationwide umbrella group representing more than 300 museums throughout
Quebec. He also pointed out that since the current government was formed, work
on the federal museum policy has been scrapped despite its significant
advances and the numerous consultations that have been carried out within the
museum community.

    Stop the Bleeding

    The current round of cuts are damaging and could countervail the progress
made by the museum community - by dint of bold initiatives and hard work -
over the past few years. As such, the elimination of Trade Routes will
compromise the continuation of operations intended to position and market
Quebecers' expertise in the world arena - an even more unacceptable outcome,
in light of the extremely high-level recognition this know-how has been
accorded internationally. "We are extremely frustrated, since the assistance
we received from Quebec City was also instrumental in realizing these
accomplishments. The partnerships thus created were beneficial to all, and
demonstrated consistency in the actions performed, as well as optimal use of
each party's budget. I don't see how - or, above all, why - Quebec should
assume this responsibility alone, under the current circumstances," asserted
Michel Perron. He went on to express "the full measure of (his) appreciation
for the quick, targeted action taken by Christine St-Pierre, Minister of
Culture, Communications and Status of Women, when the federal cuts were
announced".
    The effects of cuts made to the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability
Program could also impact significantly on museums, since this program offered
major opportunities, particularly in the areas of building visitor attendance,
improving financial self-sufficiency and optimizing management practices. The
cuts are all the more inexplicable since these objectives reflect the latest
trends in cultural management. It should also be pointed out that this
program, which was also used by museums associations to serve their members,
recently underwent a nation-wide assessment, the results of which have not
been released. This ploy was also before the Museums Assistance Program cuts
were announced, although the Quebec museum community was satisfied with the
funding and had requested that it be increased.
    In light of the foregoing, the SMQ is in complete agreement with the
Canadian Museums Association's specific request that Prime Minister Stephen
Harper and Minister Verner rethink their decision and stanch their bleeding of
the cultural community, in which our museums play a key role.




For further information:

For further information: Linda Lapointe, Director of Communications,
Société des musées québécois, (514) 987-3264, lapointe.linda@smq.qc.ca

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SOCIETE DES MUSEES QUEBECOIS

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