Arms-length federal agency for the arts created in 1957 by Parliament. It provides grants and services to artists and arts organizations in the fields of music, dance, media, theatre, writing, publishing, visual and First Nations arts.
It originally was intended to deal also with the humanities and social sciences but in 1978 the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council was formed and left the Canada Council to deal with the arts.
The chair (now CEO) and vice-chair are political appointees and serve for a term of five years.
The Canada Council also awards the Governor Generalís Award, the Molson Prizes and the Glenn Gould Prizes.
The Council's budget has gone from $1.5 million in its first year to $150 million in 2016.
Grants are allocated through advice from regional committees and peer juries. Though an arm's-length organization, it has come under fire for what is funded and what isn't (and whether or not the choices reflect the politics of the government of the moment). Because of past budget cuts by the federal government, the Council also had to choose its priorities; one unpopular choice was to phase out the Art Bank (the Council's collection of visual arts works). Severe cuts were also made to staffing.
However, in 1998 the Council launched the huge project, The Millennium Arts Fund, and the Flying Squad for the development of new theatre companies. The 2016 Strategic Plan includes a proposal to double the budget by 2021, increasing the annual investment in the arts to 310 million. Twenty-five per cent will go to new recipients, and the international investment will double.
Profile by Gaetan Charlebois and Anne Nothof
Last updated 2020-07-17