Alanis Morissette, Metric, The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, Gordon Lightfoot, Grimes, The Sheepdogs, Blue Rodeo, and producer Garth Richardson are among the names on a growing list of nearly 1100 individuals who have signed a letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which outlines creators’ continual struggle to make a living due to outdated Canadian laws and to “put creators at the heart of future policy.”
“We are Canada’s musicians, songwriters, composers, music producers, authors, poets, playwrights, film composers, actors, directors and visual artists — a creative class of artists and entrepreneurs that has defined this country. We’ve done so through creativity, innovation and hard work. Yet economically we’re worse off today than we were in the 1990s,” the letter begins.
“…while some of us have found success, too many others are being squeezed out of the marketplace. The middle class artist is being eliminated from the Canadian economy. Full-time creativity is becoming a thing of the past.”
The letter, created by a coalition called Focus on Creators, details how laws and regulations from the ’90s that dictate digital economies only ended up benefitting the technology innovators, while leaving the Canadian creators struggling.
“Canada’s creative professionals have led Canada in the digital shift, but we struggle to earn a livelihood from it. It’s not from lack of trying. We’ve digitized our work and mastered the internet. We’ve become social media directors for our projects. We connect directly with our fan bases, and monetize everything that we can. So why are more and more of us being forced to abandon creative work? And why do Canada’s youth increasingly seek career paths outside the creative sector?”
It concludes by specifically recommending two “major opportunities” where the Canadian government can “stand up for creators over the next year” — the Heritage Dept.’s ongoing cultural policy review and the five-year mandated review of the Copyright Act in 2017.
The letter, and the reforms it calls for, have received support from Music Canada, the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), the Writers’ Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, the Canadian Music Publishers Association, the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association.
“The rules established twenty years ago that govern the digital environment were intended to supercharge the digital marketplace — to be a boon to both creators and the public. But the reality is that within the span of a single generation, the creative middle class has virtually ceased to exist. We are asking Minister Joly to restore balance to the world in which our creators live. We owe it to them,” Music Canada president and CEO Graham Henderson in a statement.