- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Feb 1959, p. 235-247
- Trueman, A.W., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The Canada Council: its programme and problems. The Council's origins and structure under the Canada Council Act, assented to by Parliament on March 28, 1957. Funding for the Council. Objects and powers of the Council. Problems encountered in administering the funding. The preponderance in favour of the arts. The problem of dealing with the small organizations in the small communities. The problem of deciding what must be the conditions on which grants will be made. Finding solutions. A list of questions put to a conference of humanists and social scientists. Some concluding remarks, touching on the element of communication. The purpose of the Canada Council.
- Date of Original
- 26 Feb 1959
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- Full Text
- "TRUSTEES OF ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS"
An Address by A. W. TRUEMAN, B.A., M.A., D.Litt., LL.D., F.R.S.A., Director of The Canada Council for the Encouragement of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Thursday, February 26, 1959
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. Bruce Legge.
LT.-COL. LEGGE: Today we are honoured to hear Dr. A. W. Trueman, Director of the Canada Council for the encouragement of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, who will tell us about "The Canada Council--Its Programme and Problems".
From the very beginning, the Canada Council has received support from all Canadian political parties as well as the personal interest of Her Majesty the Queen who, on her last visit to Ottawa, gave permission for the use of the Crown in the seal of the Canada Council. Last year the honourable Brooke Claxton told The Empire Club of Canada about the Canada Council under the enquiring title "One Hundred Million Dollars for What?" He explained that a considerable part of the job of all large foundations was to refuse applications for money and he considered that a perfect form of rejection was, "We have nothing but praise for your proposal." We know that the Canada Council has not successfully applied that formula against all petitioners, and as Trustees of One Hundred Million Dollars, the Council is one of the great foundations of the world. Indeed, in the United States there are only seven foundations with similarly large endowments and they have the Midas--like names of Ford, Carnegie, Kellogg, Duke and Rockefeller. Obviously the Canada Council is much more than a banking organization for culture, which substitutes public for private monies. One of its chief objectives is to encourage patrons of the Arts to continue and increase their princely gifts, for otherwise the Council would become simply a State-paid and State-directed culture factory. It can easily be seen that the Director of the Canada Council must be both a man of the Arts and a man of affairs--one who combines the force to say a polished and inflexible `No', yet possesses the warmth, spirit, and zest to nurture creative things. In 1957 the Council chose for its Director Dr. A. W. Trueman, a Canadian of great attainments. He had been carefully educated in the Maritimes and at Oxford University. Under his wise presidency, the University of Manitoba and then the University of New Brunswick have flourished. In due course his brilliance was recognized by the Government and he was appointed Chairman of the National Film Board of Canada from 1953 to 1957. During those four years the Film Board won glowing reviews from international critics and the approval of Canadian audiences. As a man of the Arts Dr. Trueman was created a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London, England, and he has been honoured with doctorates by four different Canadian Universities.
Today I am delighted to introduce to the Empire Club of Canada, Dr. A. W. Trueman, who will speak on "The Canada Council--Its Programme and Problems".
DR. TRUEMAN: The subject of my address is the Canada Council: Its Programme and Problems. I propose to spend a few minutes on a short account of the Council's structure and programme; I shall then outline, with some comment, the more important problems that the Council has had to face; I shall conclude with a few brief observations, the purpose of which will be to show why, as I see it, the establishment of the Canada Council and its programme is related to some fundamental beliefs which are of high importance for the future of the nation.
The Canada Council Act was assented to by Parliament on March 28, 1957.
On April 15, 1957, an Order-in-Council was passed, appointing the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, the other members of the Council, the Director, the Associate Director, and three members of the Investment Committee.
The Council therefore was a year and ten months old, exactly eleven days ago.
There are twenty-one members of Council; that is to say, the Chairman (The Hon. Brooke Claxton), the Vice Chairman (The Very Rev. Georges Henri Levesque) and nineteen others. The Act stipulated that the Council meet three times a year. It was necessary, I am sure you will have no trouble in believing, to meet much oftener than that during our early, formative days. As a matter of fact, I feel sure, judging by the volume of business which accrued from the four-month period immediately before our last meeting, in February, that it will always be necessary to meet oftener that three times a year.
There is an executive committee, of limited powers, which meets at the call of the Chairman.
The permanent staff, at present, is a small one, twenty-five in all. The principal officers are the Director, the Associate Director, the Treasurer, The Secretary, and the Supervisor of the Arts Programme.
The Investment Committee consists of five people: Mr. Graham Towers (the Chairman), Mr. James Muir, Mr. John G. Hungerford, the Hon. Brooke Claxton, and Major-General George Vanier.
The Canada Council has been given, by the Government of Canada, two funds of $50,000,000 each: the University Capital Grants Fund, and the Endowment Fund. The University Capital Grants Fund is itself expendable. The Act specifies that the Council shall make available in each province an amount from this fund that is in the same proportion to the total fund as the provincial population is to the national population. Having established the proportions, the Council is now proceeding with the division of the resultant sums among the eligible institutions in accordance with a formula worked out with, and agreed to by, the National Conference of Canadian Universities. The Council has adopted as its working list of eligible institutions the list used by the National Conference of Canadian Universities for the distribution of federal university grants. The Act does not specify what the life of the fund shall be, but in all probability it will be completely spent within six or seven years.
The Council may use the fund to help universities, and similar institutions of higher learning, erect buildings for the arts, humanities and social sciences. The maximum amount which may be provided for any one building is fifty per cent of its cost. After the last meeting of the Council, Feb. 2nd and 3rd of this year, grants amounting to over $12,000,000 had been authorized. Not more than a third of this sum, however, has been released to the universities concerned, as they receive their grants in the form of progress payments, four in number. The final payment of a grant is not made until the building has been properly certified as ready for occupancy.
The Endowment Fund, as the name suggests, is a fund in perpetuity. That is to say, only the annual income it produces may be spent. The Treasurer informs me that he anticipates a revenue from this fund for 195960 of close to $2,850,000. This high yield is explained by the fact that the book-value of the fund now stands at approximately $53,000,000. The rate of yield is therefore between 5.3 and 5.4 per cent. The appreciation in the value of our endowment, and the excellent rate of yield, have been the consequence of judicious investment and re-investment. This, I'm sure you'll agree with me, is a highly satisfactory state of affairs which reflects great credit on the acumen and zeal of the Investment Committee and the Treasurer.
Now what may the Canada Council do with this interesting sum, the annual revenue from its endowments? I should remind you, in the first place, that what it may do must be related to the Arts, the Humanities and the Social Sciences--not merely to the Arts, as too many members of the Canadian public have supposed. The legislation is described as "An Act for the Establishment of a Canada Council for the Encouragement of the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences". The Council is concerned, therefore, with architecture, theatre, music, opera, ballet, literature, painting, sculpture, the graphic arts and, Heaven help us!, "other similar creative and interpretative activities"--to repeat the stately language of the act. But the Council is also concerned with Language, Literature, History and Philosophy, that is to say, with the Humanities; and with Political Economy, Political Science, Sociology, and certain other disciplines--Psychology, Anthropology, Geography, Education, Law--at least with those of their aspects which appear to bear a reasonably direct relation to the social sciences.
Perhaps the quickest way in which I can tell you what the Council may do is to read section 8 of the Act. Here it is:
OBJECTS AND POWERS OF THE COUNCIL.
(1) The objects of the Council are to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts, humanities and social sciences, and, in particular, but without limiting the generality of the foregoing the Council may, in furtherance of its objects, (a) assist, co-operate with and enlist the aid of organizations, the objects of which are similar to any of the objects of the Council; (b) provide, through appropriate organizations or otherwise, for grants, scholarships or loans to persons in Canada for study or research in the arts, humanities or social sciences in Canada or elsewhere or to persons in other countries for study or research in such fields in Canada; (c) make awards to persons in Canada for outstanding accomplishment in the arts, humanities or social sciences; (d) arrange for and sponsor exhibitions, performances and publications of works in the arts, humanities or social sciences; (e) exchange with other countries or organizations or persons therein knowledge and information respecting the arts, humanities and social sciences; and (f) arrange for representation and interpretation of Canadian arts, humanities and social sciences in other countries. (2) The Governor in Council may assign to the Council such functions and duties in relation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as he considers desirable.
We have now had a year and ten months of existence. Our programme of grant-giving has been in effect only for about a year and six months. The first four months were required for securing the Council offices, engaging staff, buying furniture and equipment, and holding preliminary meetings and consultations. Perhaps you would be interested in a few figures which indicate in a general way what we accomplished between the beginning of our programme and November 1, 1958, a period of a little over a year.
From the University Capital Grants Fund we authorized grants amounting to $9,813,000. These were for the following: buildings for faculties of arts, faculties of social sciences, libraries, halls of residence, an art gallery, a university school of architecture, and perhaps one or two other types. Since November 1, 1958, further grants have been authorized, bringing the total to about $12,000,000.
From the Endowment Fund we made, during the period before last November, grants amounting, in round figures, to $2,500,000. Roughly $1,350,000 of this sum was expended on the arts, and $1,150,000 on the humanities and social sciences, taken together. These expenditures may be broken down in a different way, as follows: in the first year of programme activity we spent over a million dollars on the Scholarships and Fellowships programme, approximately 75 per cent of which was in support of the humanities and social sciences; that is to say for academic scholars as opposed to artists of all sorts. In the same period we spent over a million dollars on organizations representing the arts (orchestra, theatres, ballets, operas, and others), and about three hundred thousand dollars on organizations, on individual research, other individual projects, and assistance for publication, within the area of the humanities and the social sciences. The balance of the $2,500,000 went for UNESCO expenses and other miscellaneous items which I shall not list here.
The administrative expenses of the Endowment Fund programme, of the University Capital Grants Fund, and of our UNESCO activities must all be charged to Endowment Fund revenue. Despite this fact, administration is costing less than 10% of that revenue. We learn from the reports of American foundations, and of the Arts Council of Great Britain, that this is comparatively inexpensive administration for an organization like the Council.
(Note. The figures which I have given in this section of my talk are, for the most part, round figures intended to give only a general notion of the Council's expenditures. I have not troubled to reconcile percentages accurately in a speech which is not intended to be the statement of an accountant.)
Now, after a year and ten months of examining applications for assistance and collecting information about the status and needs of the arts, humanities and social sciences in Canada, what seem to be some of the continuing, major problems?
Quite apart from the perennial question of what specific things ought to be done, I want to mention, first of all, the problem of dividing our Endowment Fund income equitably and effectively among the three general areas of our responsibility, the arts, humanities and social sciences. We had taken aim at half for the arts, on the one side, and half for the humanities, and social sciences on the other. We didn't score a miss, but we didn't hit the bull's-eye. I can't give you the exact figures at the moment, but the proportions are nearer 55% for the arts and 45 % for the humanities and social sciences.
There are many reasons for this preponderance in favour of the arts. In the first place, they were in more desperate need than the humanities and social sciences. Of course, the humanities and the social sciences were, and are, in great need, but at least there stands behind them the whole organized academic community, including the great universities of the country. In the second place, the arts are represented by a multiplicity of organizations which far exceed in number and variety those of the humanities and social sciences. Outside the institutions of higher learning themselves, there are very few organizations, indeed, which represent these two groups of subjects. But the arts are divided and subdivided into orchestras, string ensembles, quartets, trios and choirs, ballets, operas, theatres, literary societies, painters' societies, architectural associations, and so on and so on. Consequently the great bulk of applications for assistance came from these arts organizations, and came with a rush.
We at the Council had to meet this situation as it confronted us. We had to do what we could to help, do it as rapidly as possible, and hope that what we did would not establish a host of precedents which would come back to plague us as we became more deeply involved in the exciting and complex task of giving money away. I think we have avoided these bad precedents, but I admit that I think we need to redress the balance somewhat. That this can be done, I have no doubt. In, fact we are already taking steps to develop guides and policies which will help us to take increasingly accurate aim at the target. I think too that we have been somewhat conservative or conventional in our first year of operation. Under the circumstances, with no example before us, no blueprint to follow, having to create our policies as we went along, I think that it was wise to be somewhat conservative. It is my own hope--and I speak for myself here--that as we gain knowledge and experience we may strike out a little more boldly and try to avail ourselves of the sources of imagination which no doubt can be drawn upon, both within our own ranks and outside, for counsel and encouragement.
The second major problem which I pick out for reference is the problem of dealing with the small organizations in the small communities, both of which exist in their hundreds, and are working faithfully within the area of the Council's responsibilities. Arithmetic took over at this point in our reflections, and shoved sentiment rudely aside. There simply is not money enough to supply even a fraction of the needs, let alone the desires, which often exceed the needs, of all the smaller local orchestras, choirs, little theatres, museums, galleries, art associations, literary societies, and other groups who could do with a bit of money, and would be encouraged and delighted by the recognition which a Council grant would give them. I personally find this stark fact of arithmetic very sad, and I have to tighten my jaw self-consciously sometimes, when I sit down to write the letter of refusal, so beautifully called by our American friends, "a declination". Another difficulty which we have to face is posed by the in-between community which doesn't feel itself to be small, but is scarcely large enough to exert more than an immediately local influence. Arithmetic again dictates the policy.
The third major problem which I want to mention is this: the problem of deciding what must be the conditions on which we shall make grants to the organizations we agree to help.
It became evident very early that we were going to have to do a great deal of explaining to many groups which could not, I think, be expected to know at the outset what would be both possible and effective for the Council to do in pursuit of a long-range policy. The Council was convinced from the start, that it could not afford to subsidize the normal, routine costs of operation and maintenance; and that such support, even if it had been possible, would do almost nothing to ensure the enrichment, extension and general upgrading of an organization's programme. It would be convenient for any group, no doubt, to have its rent paid, its secretary paid, and its telephone and postage bills paid. But from the Council's point of view, such payments seemed likely to leave the programme exactly, or nearly, where it was. Furthermore it seemed reasonable to take the view that the smaller, local group ought to be able to send its roots well down into local soil; that the costs of normal maintenance and operation, as well as the other costs of the programme, needed to be met locally; otherwise what real justification could there be for the organization's existence?
Again, the Council took the view that the money it had to give out must not take the place of support that already existed. Of what use would it be to make a grant of $10,000 to an orchestra, a ballet, an opera, or any other association, only to find that after the period for which the grant had been made, local support had dropped proportionally to the grant? That kind of response would result in leaving the sum total of support exactly where it was before the Council came into existence, but with this difference: local interest would dwindle, and what had lived before, though perhaps in an under-nourished condition, would now succumb to disease and die.
Some of the other important problems which faced us and still face us are reflected in the list of questions which we put to a conference of humanists and social scientists who at our invitation met in Kingston this Christmas. Here are two of them:
(1) What proportion of the money available should be spent (i) on research projects and the needs of organizations representing the humanities and social sciences, and (ii) on assisting individuals to improve their abilities? (2) To what extent should the Council disregard the geographic divisions of Canada in the apportioning of its assistance?
Here are a few problems put in the form of statements which the Conference was asked to discuss:
(3) As a general rule the Council should not initiate projects of its own, and it should not directly commission works. (4) Grants should ordinarily be made for one year. There should be no undertaking, express or implied, that a grant will be renewed. (5) "Little magazines" and journals of opinion should look to support from the particular constituencies they serve. (6) Assistance for publication should not be given until a work has been completed and examined. (7) Assistance for publication may be given by block orders of books for distribution outside Canada.
Here are a few more questions:
(8) Should the Council make travel and maintenance grants to enable scholars, teachers and artists to attend conferences, meetings of learned societies, short refresher courses for special groups, and the like? (9) Should the Council contemplate giving assistance to research projects involving several people and a large sum of money--say as much as $150,000--to be given over a period of years, three, four or more? (10) If group projects should be supported, what form should the assistance take: grants directly made to the individuals involved, or block grants to the head of the project for distribution in accordance with a submitted and approved schedule; matching grants to encourage other donors and other initiative; shared financial support with--say--an American foundation? (11) What journals ought to be supported? Should a condition of Council support be that journals will not be permitted to become regular and continuing pensioners of the Council, but will have to find other means of support after the Council has given help for a short period? (12) Does the Conference think that a useful purpose could be served by organizing a conference between the humanists and the physical scientists?
Perhaps this is enough to acquaint you with the nature of the Council, the kind of programme it supports, and at least some of the difficult and important problems which have arisen.
Now for the final section of my address. As soon as one attempts to deal with the philosophic justification of what is represented by the programme of the Canada Council, one is involved in profundities which cannot be easily or quickly stated. Nevertheless I should like to talk very briefly about one aspect of this matter. Of all the considerations then, which may be put forward as basic to such a discussion, let me say a few words about the element of communication.
This element is always of great significance among the many elements which are involved in the development of an individual and of a nation; and for no nation is it of more significance than for Canada. It is possible, I suggest, to think of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences--of the first two particularly--as fundamentally instruments of communication, between individual and individual, group and group, region and region, nation and nation.
It is often well, when one is treating a great theme, to resort to the words of a great man. I now turn to the historian of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon. Here is a timeless observation pertinent to our discussion, which you will find in chapter nine of volume one, of the "Decline and Fall': "Let us attempt, in an improved society, to calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection, multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little his fellow laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental faculties."
Following the same trend of thought, and stated with a quality of irony which would have appealed to Gibbon, is this passage from a book by that delightful writer Harold Nicholson. (The book is "Good Behaviour--Being a study of Certain Types of Civility".)
"Yet to this day in England, as in Australia and the United States, the tradition survives that boys who are good at killing animals, or propelling balls, or leaping obstacles, or running very rapidly, are healthier minded and therefore more attractive than boys who devote their attention to art and literature. This seems in many ways an admirable tradition. It renders English intellectuals unassuming, and provides the State and the commercial community with a constant supply of apprentices who lack imagination and are therefore obedient. The disadvantage is that the athlete, after short years of glory, may have to endure an unhappy middle age. Even as the mediaeval Knight, who once his hawking days were over, found his afternoons lonely and his evenings dull, so also may those who have rejoiced only in the transient marvel of their physical strength discover in later life that their range has become restricted and their interests few. It is recommendable that Olympic champions should acquire the reading habit while still young".
There you have it again: the restricted range, the few interests. What is this but the lack of power either to communicate or to receive communication. As I have said, many arguments may be advanced in support of a programme for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. This is merely one: namely, that they extend the range of communication, they multiply experience, they enrich our interest in existence. In other words they help us realize our own potentialities as human beings.
Let me not be misunderstood. I believe in athletics and other robust pleasures. I see no inconsistency between the notion of culture--that much misused word--and liking to watch a hockey game; between devotion to the fugues of Bach, and enjoying a popular song; between caring for the landscapes of Van Gogh and liking to go skiing or have muck on your boots or tinker with the motor of your car.
The Canada Council is not created for the benefit of any artificially selected group of people who are less than life size; it is not the exclusive preserve, believe me, of faddists, ivory-towered dreamers, highly specialized scholars of esoteric subjects. And yet it is for these, too, when they can demonstrate a need and justify a claim. But in the main, I think it is for people who are alive or want to become more alive; for people who are aware or want to become more aware of the richness of life about them, both spiritual and material; it is for those who in the words of Gibbon are not content to lead the mental life of an ox in a field, rooted to a single spot in time and space; it is for those who want, by extending their powers of communication, to enrich the necessary life of the now and the immediate, and to enlarge the scope of creative thought and feeling, by acquaintance with the distant countries and ages of the mind.
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. James Joyce, a Past President of the Club.