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On October 26, 2021, I tabled Bill 75, the Arts Professions Recognition Act in the provincial legislature. The act will endorse the importance of contracts when engaging artists for services and will ensure their fair financial treatment. The legislation will also encourage greater respect for freedom of expression, the arts, and artists as professionals and their associations.
The act recognizes that art inspires, defines who we are, and passes our culture from one generation to the next. Alberta’s culture is unique to Canada, and our province’s creative and cultural industries are an important part of our life as a community. Art is work and artists deserve fair payment in order to secure their economic future. Through legislation, Alberta’s government is clearly stating art is an important economic driver that creates jobs and helps with our recovery.
Supporting artists and arts organizations in our province is critical because our cultural and creative industries are essential to our long-term prosperity and economic diversification. Because creativity renews our spirits and expands the way we think, the arts can help renew Alberta in positive ways. During the Ministry of Culture’s 50th anniversary, we reaffirm our commitment to and celebration of culture in our province and take that commitment one-step further with this act.
From an economic perspective, arts and culture industries are significant contributors to Alberta’s wealth. In 2019, the visual and applied arts, and live performance industries were responsible for roughly $1.3 billion in gross domestic product and 20,000 jobs. In addition, the arts are essential to other sectors such as tourism. When the arts thrive, so does our economy.
From a social perspective, the arts enrich all our lives as an expression of culture. Art can inspire new perspectives while sharing and preserving Alberta’s unique culture. As such, artists play a pivotal role on how we see ourselves as Albertans and I encourage everyone to discover and engage in local arts in their communities to discover these new perspectives. When the arts thrive, so does our society.
Throughout the pandemic, many of us turned to the arts to help us cope with our personal trials and to lift our spirits. Yet for the last year and a half, artists in Alberta have had to change considerably the way they work – even putting their careers on hold while facing extraordinary economic challenges.
Living in a family with artists, I know firsthand that arts is a profession like any other that requires hard work, training and dedication. Like any profession, artists deserve fair pay for their skills and expertise. Art is work.
Now it’s time to pay the artist back for the many gifts of their creations. It’s time for legislation to strengthen the value of artists in Alberta.
Ron Orr served as Minister of Culture from July 8, 2021 to October 24, 2022.