This year, VANL-CARFAC made five recommendations to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for the up-coming 2014-15 budget:
Beyond the creation of artworks, a necessary element of a visual artist’s career is the ability to adequately access a wider art market. Much of a visual artist’s income comes from outside of Newfoundland and Labrador: through exhibition fees from publicly-funded galleries; copyright and reproduction fees; visiting artist projects; guest lectures; grants; commissions; and through selling their work. Therefore many of the province’s artists earn a significant portion of their income from elsewhere, and then spend it here. True economic development means new money coming into the province and this is one of the primary ways that artists contribute to the local economy.
The Market Access and Export Program was a granting component of the Cultural Economic Development meant to address this need. These were not grants to assist with the creative side of producing artistic works, but to help to “expand the marketing, promotion and distribution of cultural products and activities.” Artists were eligible for up to $5,000 to cover the costs of activities such as: the shipping and insurance of their work; travel and accommodation; the production and distribution of promotional materials; and attendance at trade shows and showcases. As a result of a 10% cut to the CEDP program last year, the Market and Access component was eliminated; and, while organizations, festivals, and small performance series still qualify, individual artists are no longer eligible to apply to the CEDP.
The rationale may be given that individual artists can apply to the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Council for some of these costs under Professional Project grants; however, there are two major impediments to this: first, while the Market and Access program has been discontinued, the Arts Council’s budget has not been increased—a fund which is already strained beyond capacity. In the most recent granting session for Professional Project Grants, in September 2013, the NLAC was only able to award 44% of the requested funds across all sectors. Second, while individual artists can apply to the NLAC to support “creation, production, operating and travel costs,” the NLAC Best Practices Project Assessment guidelines explicitly state that marketing and publicity expenses are given a low priority by the jury. Therefore funds to build crates, print posters, and buy promotional ads (and precisely the kinds of marketing activities that the CEDP supported) are not eligible.