Canada Council

Canada Council for the Arts
Formation 1957
Type Crown Corporation
Legal status active
Purpose advocate and public voice, educator and network
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Region served
Official language
English, French
Affiliations Art Bank,

The Canada Council for the Arts (French: Conseil des Arts du Canada), commonly called the Canada Council, is a Crown Corporation established in 1957 to act as an arts council of the government of Canada, created to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.[1] It funds Canadian artists and encourages the production of art in Canada. The current board chair of the Canada Council is Pierre Lassonde.


The Canada Council is an arms-length agency based in Ottawa, Ontario, that reports to the Crown through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Its endowment income is supplemented by annual appropriations from parliament, donations, and bequests. Its main duty is allotting grants to Canadian artists based on the merits of their applications. The council also funds and administers many of Canada's top arts awards, including the Governor General's Literary Awards.

The council has six main divisions. Each of these co-ordinates grant-giving to a different area of the arts:

These are complemented by three groups that work with all the sections:


Art Bank

The Canada Council has supervisory authority over the Art Bank. The Art Bank is a division of the Canada Council for the Arts whose mandate is to rent works of art to public and private sector offices.[2] It has the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art in the world.[2] The collection includes some 18,000 artworks, 6,400 of which are currently rented to more than 200 government and corporate clients.

Established in the 1970s the Art Bank buys art from notable Canadian artists through a system of peer review juries. The bank is completely self-funded, earning its money from renting out works in its collection. The Bank continues to expand its collection by buying works in accord with its annual purchasing budget.[3] The vast majority of its art is rented by the Federal government, with less than ten percent being rented to the private sector. Works of art are rented out for two-year periods. The rental rate is generally 20% of the piece's market value. Although the Art Bank is located in Ottawa, Ontario it services its clients across the country. Its collection has been appraised to be worth over 71 million dollars.[4]

In 2002 the Canada Council Art Bank began to purchase Aboriginal art to enhance its collection as part of its 45th anniversary.[5]

Musical Instrument Bank

The Council also operates a Musical Instrument Bank. Established in 1985, the Instrument Bank has acquired many valuable stringed instruments that are loaned mainly to Canadian musicians. The loans are often made to musicians as a result of juried competitions.[6] The creation of the instrument bank was championed by Canadian cellist Denis Brott.[7]

Awards supervised

The Council promotes public awareness of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. The Council administers the Killam Program of scholarly awards, the Governor General's Literary Awards and the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Other supervised bodies

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Public Lending Right Commission operate under the Council's aegis.

Grant awards

Each year the council receives some 16,000 grant requests, which are reviewed by panels of artists set up by each division of the council. In 2006-07, the Council awarded some 6,000 grants to artists and arts organizations and made payments to more than 15,400 authors through the Public Lending Right Commission. Grants and payments totaled more than $152 million.


The Canada Council is called from time to time to appear before parliamentary committees, particularly the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Its accounts are audited by the Auditor General of Canada and included in an Annual Report to Parliament.

Chairs of the Canada Council

See also


Further reading

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