The High Cost of Leisure

The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Nov 1974, p. 103-113
Edinborough, Arnold, Speaker
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Item Type
The cultural explosion in Canada, particularly since Canada's Centennial in 1967. A national identity as a result of the Centennial. The significant role of LIP grants in the cultural explosion. Other Centennials: Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and other cities and provinces. What has been happening in Canada over the last ten years culturally. The demand for these activities. Some figures to support the premise. The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada: purpose and objectives. Findings of a report by the Canada Council. The relationship between business and the arts: how each can profit, with examples. The high cost of leisure merely an index of the high standards for our cultural pursuits.
Date of Original
14 Nov 1974
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Full Text
NOVEMBER 14, 1974
The High Cost of Leisure
CHAIRMAN The President, Sir Arthur Chetwynd


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Mr. Arnold Edinborough, our guest speaker today, last appeared before The Empire Club of Canada on March 17th, 1960-St. Patrick's Day. At that time the topic of his speech was "Sex and Violence on the Bookstalls".

Today, on a return visit, I am not sure whether by coincidence or as a planned sequel, his subject is "The High Cost of Leisure"!

Arnold Edinborough may well be our best known immigrant. He was educated at Cambridge and, coming to Canada in 1947, took his first job as a teacher at Queen's University and at RMC.

In 1958 he became editor of Saturday Night, and I might add that through his very active role in the Anglican Church, he also had something to do with Sunday morning. Later he became owner of Saturday Night. Although always too humble to lay the same proprietary claim to Sunday morning, he has nevertheless been a faithful worker in the vineyard!

Since he last spoke to the members of the Empire Club in 1960 our guest has added a whole galaxy of honours and achievements to his name, through his writings, his oratory and his service in both the cultural and religious milieux.

On August 1st, 1974 he became President of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada.

This fall he is serving as host of a six-part CTV television series entitled "Heritage", designed to create understanding of the nationalities and cultures that have played such a vital part in the making of the Canadian character. A new book with a most intriguing title, Some Camel, Some Needle, has just been released.

A man named Disraeli said: "Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilizers of man." Another man named George Bernard Shaw said: "A learned man is an idler who kills time by study."

Our guest always seemed to me to be one of the most civilized and learned men I have ever met. I am sure that he would agree with Disraeli's dictum, and in his own life it is obvious he has followed Shaw's admonition, for in his seemingly relaxed way he must certainly have "killed" any time he has had by study and the peripatetic pursuit of knowledge.

I am sure that he has more knowledge of his subject than any other Canadian, as he speaks to us on "The High Cost of Leisure". Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to present Mr. Arnold Edinborough.


Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you very much for a very warm introduction to this group.

I'd like to begin with a little story about an actor. Like some other actors, some quite famous, he couldn't remember his lines, and as he got older he got less capable of remembering any line he'd ever learned. His agent was beginning to despair, until one day he was offered a part in a new play to be produced on Broadway.

At the very beginning of this play, which was about the American Revolution, while an enormous roar was created backstage, he was to rush on and say, "Hark! I hear the cannons roar!" Then he was shot dead by an American rebel.

His agent said, "This is a perfect part for you. It's full Equity salary, and you're dead after the first line."

So he got there and he rehearsed his line as many ways as he could.

"Hark! I hear the cannons roar!"
"Hark! I hear the cannons roar."
"Hark, I hear the cannons roar!"

He went over it and over it.

On the opening night, the curtain went up and this terrific bang was heard. He ran out to the front of the stage, and he said, "What the hell was that?"

I want to suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that although you may not have heard them the cannons have been roaring in Canada because there has been a cultural explosion in this country going on ever since the Centennial. In fact, the Centennial triggered the cultural explosion in Canada, and it triggered it in several ways. First, there was a lot of money set aside to help us celebrate the Centennial and for the first time artists, writers, musicians, and performers had enough money to do some of the things they had always wanted to do.

Second, the Centennial gave us a sense of national identity which though not terribly strong-we are not that kind of a people-was stronger than ever before.

Third, the process was expanded by the extraordinarily enlightened LIP grants which, instead of concentrating on the normal kind of "winter works", gave employment, again, to actors, performers, community animators and others who had formerly not been sponsored in any direct way by government.

Fourth, there have been a series of Centennials other than the Centennial of Canada itself--Prince Edward Island has had three in the past nine years, Manitoba has had one and various other cities and provinces have been commemorating notable milestones in their history.

What has happened as a result within the last ten years?

There have been new theatres built here in Toronto, in Winnipeg, in Montreal, in Charlottetown, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Hamilton and the biggest of them all, The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

In Calgary, Edmonton and Hamilton, there are professional symphony orchestras where there was no professional symphony orchestra before. Across the country, the Playhouse Theatre in Vancouver, the Bastion Theatre in Victoria, the Citadel in Edmonton, Theatre Calgary, Neptune Theatre in Halifax and Toronto Arts Productions have all come into being within the decade.

The visual arts too have been booming. Just this past week Kay Krytzwiser in the Globe and Mail listed four new private galleries opening, in addition to the thirty others which have been opened since the centennial year in this city alone. And of course the Art Gallery of Ontario is now one of the great art centres in the continent. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is closed for almost as dramatic a refurbishing. And, though it is by no means certain, it looks possible that the National Gallery will finally be built just south of the National Arts Centre. It will then be able to take its collections out of the Elgin Building which was always destined to be-and still looks like-an office building for the lesser grades of civil servants.

Now, none of these things could happen unless there had been a demand for them. What is that demand? Let me just give you one figure-the Archeological Finds of the People's Republic of China, otherwise known as the Chinese Exhibition, which opened in midAugust at the Royal Ontario Museum, will close at the end of this week. During that time 400,000 people will have paid an average of $3.40 to look at it.

Consider another figure. The Stratford Festival, when it opened in 1953, ran for six weeks and played to 68,087 people. In 1973, it played for twenty-three weeks to 406,561.

At the National Arts Centre, the subscription series for both English and French theatre were virtually sold out before they opened the season. So was the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. The Toronto Symphony has gone from fifty-five concerts in the last ten years to ninety-seven regular concerts. Even the Toronto Arts Productions, often a much maligned part of the cultural scene in Toronto, had 7,700 subscribers this year before the season opened.

What has been the result on the finances of the organizations which provide these performers and offer these cultural services to the community? The expenditures have gone in five years from less than twelve million to over twenty-five million dollars in the twenty-nine major organizations that receive support from the Canada Council. The best figures available from a study commissioned by the Canada Council show that by the 1976/77 season they will have reached 48.5 million, and for 1981/82 the projected figure is 95.5 million.

That is just for performing arts. If we take visual and performing arts, that is art galleries, museums, exhibitions and so on, the operating needs of the arts are expected to quadruple over the next five years and to reach an expenditure of 175 million dollars by the early 1980s.

One hundred million for the performing arts, 75 million for the visual arts, just for operating expenses, seems an immense amount of money, but of course, some 50% of that, at least, comes back out of revenue (the ROM will make a handsome profit on the Chinese Exhibition). Of the rest--that is the gap between income and expenditures--almost a half is now covered and presumably will continue to be covered from the Canada Council and other federal agencies under the general auspices of either the Secretary of State, or for touring abroad, the Department of External Affairs. About 30% is projected as coming from provincial governments and their arts councils (which is about the relationship now in this province). A much lesser percentage would come from the municipal sector and in this latter regard, I welcome the initiative taken by the Metro Council which a week ago approved in principal a quadrupling of their present grants over the next five years.

That still leaves, by the 1980s anyway, some twenty-five million to be raised from other sources.

Those sources are private individuals who leave bequests or make gifts through several tax-free channels; foundations, like the Atkinson Foundation, the Ivey Foundation in London, and others, and most particularly, business.

The corporate sector has always been aware of its responsibilities to society. Corporations have been generous donors to hospitals and to universities since the war. They have also, sometimes at the prodding of their unions, been involved in other expenditures for the general welfare of their workers and of the society which those workers constitute.

Now much of the bill for education and health and welfare in the best sense of the word is paid by the three levels of government. It seems therefore an appropriate time for the corporate sector and business generally to become involved in the cultural activities of this country.

After a year's preparation by a Steering Committee sponsored by the Canada Council and chaired by Mr. Edmund Bovey, a meeting was held in Ottawa on June 6th to discuss the involvement of business with the visual and performing arts. Invitations were sent to the Chief Executive Officers of the top one hundred companies in Canada and it is indicative of their interest that nearly half came and most of the others apologized profusely for not being able to come owing to previous commitments. Even then, some of them sent representatives and asked to be kept informed. Out of that meeting was evolved The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada, of which as your invitation to this meeting stated, I have the honour to be President.

The purpose of the CBAC is clearly stated in the Letters Patent which were granted on September 9th. Section III of these Letters Patent say the objects of the Corporation are:

(a) to advance the arts in Canada;
(b) to encourage and stimulate business support of the arts;
(c) to undertake or encourage research pertaining to the arts for the information and use of the business community and others;
(d) to encourage and stimulate contact and communication between the business and arts sectors of the community.

Let me deal with each of these objectives in turn.

Why should business seek to advance the arts in Canada and put shareholders' money into the visual and performing arts? Let me put it this way.

Business must rely, especially in the marketing area, on a pool of creativity from which ideas alone can flow. That pool of creativity includes many of the people--in fact most of the people--in the visual and performing arts. To foster the growth of that creativity is, by transference, to foster the growth of economic progress in this country.

Again, we are a trading nation and we have to trade with countries abroad. Our reputation abroad is greatly enhanced by the tours of those major organizations which are now becoming quite frequent. It is quite clear to me, that any businessman who went to Australia after the highly successful visit of the Stratford Festival of Canada would find his way made a little easier by the repercussions in the press of that visit. That would also hold true for people doing business in Germany after the visit of the Toronto Symphony, and in various cities of the United States after the National Ballet had played to packed houses with Rudolph Nureyev as a guest star.

Philosophically, therefore, it is in business' interest to advance the arts in Canada but, it is also economically to their benefit for corporations to become so involved.

The second objective is to encourage and stimulate business support. How do we intend to do that?

At the first meeting of the Board of Directors just last Wednesday, it was agreed that we should ask corporations both large and relatively small (although still with several million dollar budgets) to become members of the Council at a modest entry fee. This would be a fee for services rendered and would not be part of the present charitable donations budget. We don't want the operation of The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada to take money out of the pot presently set aside for the encouragement and stimulation of the arts.

To every member corporation, the Council will offer advice about how to realign corporate donations so that they reflect the increasing interest of society at large--which includes both their employees and their customers--in the performing and visual arts: advice as to the relative importance to the community in terms of mere numbers of each branch of the arts, or advice in terms of the involvement of a particular group in a particular community where the corporation may have its major manufacturing facility; advice about a whole area which is new to many donations committees.

But, such advice can only be based on research and it is the intention of The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada to undertake original research in such areas as taxation and the implications for tax which switching from straight donations to sponsorship and promotion may entail. We also intend to find out just how much money comes back to corporations in increased business from supporting the arts. I believe that such support is an investment not a donation, and it is interesting that just this week a report was issued by the Canada Council which looked at the economic impact of three major performing companies: the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Toronto Symphony and the Theatre du Nouveau Monde (Montreal). Based on 197172 figures for the Toronto Symphony, and 1972-73 figures for the other two companies, the report states that the three companies together received grants totalling $1,692,750 from the three levels of government, and generated 127 per cent of this amount, or $2,152,000, in government revenues. These were in the form of direct and indirect taxes and costs of government services. This last figure is said to be conservative, and does not take into account various other government revenues attributable to the three companies' operations.

Other findings of the report include the following:

- The three companies together provided employment to 262 artists and other employees, whose combined income (after taxes) amounted to more than $2,800,000.

- The Canada Council's contribution to the maintenance of these jobs averaged $4,125 per job.

- In one year, the three companies, their dependent organizations and the public attending their performances purchased goods, materials and services worth approximately $2,900,000.

The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada believes that such a return can also be proven for the corporate sector too.

As for the fourth objective--to encourage and stimulate contact and communication between the business and arts sectors of the community, I would just make two observations.

First, an arts organization can profit from seeing how business dollars are spent.

Second, many a corporation can learn from the dedication which most members of arts organizations show. I doubt that any employee of a corporation would even work for the kind of salaries we pay our ballet dancers, and yet those dancers work perhaps sixteen hours a day and are totally dedicated. In other words, business can show the arts how to be businesslike and the arts can show business how to be much more self-fulfilling than corporate employment now seems to be.

I would not like to leave the impression that the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada is going into the corporate sector as it were fresh and unannounced. The fact is that some corporations have already shown great interest in sponsoring the arts. Some corporations are already heavily involved. Imperial Oil has just made a no-strings grant of $100,000 to get a new kind of Saturday Night magazine off the ground because Imperial Oil believes that such a vehicle should exist for the expression of Canadian writers both in prose and verse. Imperial Oil is also about to pick up the whole tab for the new ballet Whispers of Darkness by Norbert Vesak, a Vancouver choreographer, again on the basis that the risk for a new venture is equalled by the need for nurturing creativity.

IBM has just picked up the bill for the entire set of the touring company of the Canadian Opera Company. Rothmans of Pall Mall have sponsored a dozen major exhibitions of the visual arts in the past seven years, exhibitions of such quality as Rodin and his contemporaries, a group of Michelangelo maquettes, and a superb retrospective of Karl Appel. The Toronto Dominion Bank has put together a private collection of Eskimo art which is second to none and which it has sent out, both in small selections to its branches and as a major collection to Western Canada. The Xerox Corporation has just underwritten the cost of two excellent volumes dealing with the prints and drawings in the Canadian collection of the ROM, and MacMillan Bloedel are involved in a similar underwriting of another costly art book.

But to pick out individual examples is unfair. In total, the corporate sector supported the arts to the tune of some five million dollars last year, either in sponsoring concerts as you may have seen in your Toronto Symphony programme, in the programme of the Hamilton Philharmonic or the Guelph Festival to mention just three organizations, or by giving a general donation with no strings attached and little publicity if any resulting.

No. The Council for Business and the Arts already has a solid bridgehead from which to work. But we feel that it must be consolidated and widened because of the increasing demands being made by the public for cultural activities of all kinds--demands which, if they are not met jointly by the voluntary as well as the public sector, will probably become politically so strong that they will be met entirely by public funds.

T would not like to see that happen. Creativity is an individual, not a political thing. Arts organizations must serve their public, and be responsive to that public and being responsive to the public is not a notable feature of government bureaucracies.

The high cost of leisure is merely an index of the high standards we have now set ourselves in this country for our cultural pursuits--pursuits which together make this country what it is. And that is a very changed country from twenty, even ten years ago.

We have more painters, more writers, more performers, more musicians, more involvement than ever before in Canada's history. That is why this country is one of the best countries in the world to live in, and why, in my view Toronto is the most exciting city.

To keep that excitement, to increase that involvement and so build an even better Canada is an adventure to which we are all committed and in which we feel the CBAC can play a significant part.

Mr. Edinborough was thanked on behalf of The Empire Club of Canada by Mr. John Fisher, 1st Vice-President.

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The High Cost of Leisure

The cultural explosion in Canada, particularly since Canada's Centennial in 1967. A national identity as a result of the Centennial. The significant role of LIP grants in the cultural explosion. Other Centennials: Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and other cities and provinces. What has been happening in Canada over the last ten years culturally. The demand for these activities. Some figures to support the premise. The Council for Business and the Arts in Canada: purpose and objectives. Findings of a report by the Canada Council. The relationship between business and the arts: how each can profit, with examples. The high cost of leisure merely an index of the high standards for our cultural pursuits.