Massey Report at 70: Current Impasses and Prospects of Canadian Cultural Policy

April 13, 2021 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm America/Toronto Timezone
McLaughlin College Lunch Talk Series
via Zoom
Vicky Carnevale

Presented by Zainub Verjee

The final report of Canada’s Massey Commission, the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, was released in 1951. Often referred to as the Massey Report, this document provided the armature of what would become a state-defined national culture in Canada and gave birth to the idea of Canadian content. This year marks its 70th anniversary. Despite its ubiquitous presence, art and culture is often in the backwaters of public policy discourse. Also, over the decades, the coherence of the domain of arts and culture from a policy perspective has seen a fractured narrative. Only invoked and periodically foregrounded when the idea of Canadian content becomes contentious, or a national narrative is under duress or if a technological challenge is posed, as in the current tussle with Google and Facebook over news content.  We have seen a widening rupture between ‘art’ and ‘culture’. The policy trends for the sector have been affected by broader operational definitions of arts and culture. Given art, culture and power are re-aligning in the pandemic context, this lecture will review the history, consequences and prospects of policy making in this domain.

 Zainub Verjee has over four decades built a formidable reputation as an artist, writer, critic, cultural administrator and public intellectual. A firm believer in Art as public good, she has contributed to international instruments of culture such as Status of the Artist and Cultural Diversity. She has dedicated her life to developing Canada’s contemporary culture through legislation, policy and institutions. Zainub has held positions at the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, City of Mississauga, and Western Front. Among many appointments to boards, she is proud of her work at the B.C. Arts Board, which led to the formation of the British Columbia Arts Council. Her public service also includes her role as a Vancouver Moderator of the Spicer Commission – The Citizen's Forum on Canada's Future. An internationalist, in 1989, she co-founded the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours, a foundational film festival of Third World women and women of colour filmmakers in Canada. In 1992, she was awarded National Film Board Fellowship as part of New Initiatives in Film for women of colour and aboriginal women. Her work has been shown internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Venice Biennale. As an annotator, she is engaged with different stakeholders to observe, critique and analyze the quotidian practices of the art and culture sector to actively work towards engaged public debate and conversations. Her work as a cultural bureaucrat, cultural diplomat, artist, activist and writer is consistent and contiguous with what might be termed a critical transversal aesthetic. Recipient of many honours and awards, Zainub Verjee is the laureate of 2020 Governor General's Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution. Currently, she is the executive director of Galeries Ontario / Ontario Galleries, Toronto.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm via  Zoom

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Poster:  Zainut Verjee_Poster_April 13_2021