Sunday, January 25, 2009

Encouraging news for Canadian artists

In these difficult economic times hope is what sustains us, and every little bit of good news counts. So when I found out about this motion—M431—I became really excited about it. Alright, it’s only a motion, and there is no guarantee it will go anywhere beyond that. Still, the simple fact that it has been put forward gives me great hope. Here’s a snippet from a recent article:

“OTTAWA — A parliamentary motion to exempt artists from paying taxes on their first $50,000 of income is being applauded by visual artists and institutions across Canada.
The motion—M431—was introduced by Winnipeg MP Pat Martin (NDP) on January 24 and reads as follows: 'That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize and acknowledge that artists contribute greatly to the social, cultural and economic well-being of Canada; (b) take note that, in other countries such as Ireland, income earned by artists, writers, performers and creators of art is exempt from income tax; and © give consideration to exempting up to $50,000 of annual income earned by artists, writers, creators, and performers who work in Canada's cultural industries.'

'How many Oscar-winning actors and award-winning painters are languishing and not realizing their full potential for lack of resources?' says Mr. Martin. 'We need new economic engines and the arts and culture are legitimate means of economic development.'

Tax relief for artists isn't new. In 1995, Quebec introduced an exemption on an artist's first $15,000 in copyright royalties, when their total income is under $30,000. Since then, artist associations have been lobbying to bring this exemption to the federal level.

'The income of many artists is already marginal. Mr. Martin's motion would greatly assist them in improving their livelihood, professional practices and the creative economy as a whole,' says Gerald Beaulieu, National President of the Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC).

Artists in Ireland have enjoyed tax exemption for 36 years, resulting in highly successful artists internationally and increased public appreciation for the arts. In 2002 the amount of tax theoretically forgone to the Irish state because of the exemption was €24 million. The projected cost to the Canadian tax base is currently being calculated.

Comprised of eleven national visual arts associations, the Visual Arts Alliance is committed to advancing the status of visual artists and institutions in Canada.”

My fingers are crossed.

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