Board Profile - Canada Council for the Arts

Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts’ Board Profile is based on and is consistent with the Canada Council for the Arts Act; the Canada Council’s Governance Policy; and the guidelines and directions from the Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board.

The Mandate of the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national arts funder, with a mandate to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts”. To fulfill this mandate, the Canada Council offers a broad range of grants and services to professional Canadian artists and arts organizations in music, theatre, writing and publishing, visual arts, dance, media arts and integrated arts. It raises public awareness of the arts through its communications, research and arts promotion activities. The Canada Council’s prizes and fellowships celebrate creativity by recognizing exceptional Canadians in the arts, humanities and sciences. The Canadian Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) operates under the general authority of the Canada Council. The Canada Council’s work is tied to its strategic and corporate plans, which guide the organization as it continues its work to further enrich and deepen the artistic and cultural experience of Canadians.

Board Mandate

The Canada Council for the Arts is governed by a Board consisting of a Chair, Vice-Chair and nine other members from across Canada. Members are appointed by the Governor in Council for fixed terms. As stewards of the organization, members of the Board are responsible for maintaining active oversight of the organization’s governance. The Board must oversee the conduct of the Canada Council for the Arts’ business, direct Management and endeavour to ensure that all major issues affecting the organization are given proper consideration.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Board of the Canada Council for the Arts:

  • establishes, approves and periodically reviews the overall policies and the programs of the Council;
  • oversees the effectiveness of such programs;
  • provides direction and counsel to management in the strategic planning process and approves the Strategic Plan and the Corporate Plan;
  • approves the annual budget of the Council, including the allocation to various disciplines, purposes and programs;
  • approves the annual financial statements and annual report, and major financial decisions;
  • approves the proposed use of donations or bequests left to the Council;
  • approves the annual performance evaluation and financial perquisites of the Director;
  • approves the Council’s internal audit plan;
  • oversees the stewardship of the organization’s assets and liabilities, including overall responsibility for the investment funds;
  • approves the appointment of members to Board committees;
  • approves the Governance Policy, the Code of Ethics for members and enacts, amends or repeals by-laws;
  • monitors the performance of management and holds management accountable for the Council’s performance;
  • ensures that the granting process is decided in a rigorous manner, with clear guidelines, and authorize the awarding of grants either directly or through delegated authority; and
  • approves the position description for the Director, and recommends to the Minister of Canadian Heritage position descriptions for members, including, though not limited to, the Vice-Chair and the Chair.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

Current external issues include:

  • the growing urbanization of Canada and the concentration of professional artists in cities;
  • the changing demographics of the Canadian population;
  • the aging of Canadian artists and succession planning related to the next generation of artists and arts administrators;
  • the growing environmental consciousness of Canadians;
  • the growth and diversity of public arts funding sources, with all levels of government now active in arts support, though with financial disparities in provinces and municipalities across the country;
  • growing willingness to increase collaboration and strengthen arts funders’ network;
  • increasing role of technology in the creation, production, dissemination, marketing and preservation of art is having multiple effects;
  • the current global economy.

Internal situations requiring Board attention:

  • appropriate representation of the arts, regions and provinces, official languages, gender, cultural diversity and Aboriginal;
  • succession planning, continuity, pace of turnover and skills/expertise mix of the Board.

Core Attributes, Competencies and Experience

The minimum requirements that all Board members must possess include:

  • A passion and commitment to the arts and cultural sector is critical for the Canada Council, as well as knowledge of the arts community or a background in the arts either as an artist, arts professional, arts administrator or volunteer, combined with the following:
  • experience in or knowledge of public policy;
  • ability to provide wise, thoughtful counsel, to be open to change and innovation, to analyze, ask relevant questions at the strategic level, consider the different stakeholders perspectives, understand situations and problems by addressing underlying issues;
  • demonstrate high ethical standards, integrity, and objectivity;
  • willing to act on and remain accountable for Board decisions, meeting the accountabilities outlined in The Canada Council Act, By-laws of the corporation, Code of ethics and Governance Policy, seeing oneself as serving the interests of Canadians;
  • awareness of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on public interest and concerns;
  • capacity to be sensitive to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders, and to convince or influence others in order to have a specific impact or effect.

Specific Skills, Knowledge and Experience

In addition to the core attributes, competencies and experience required of each Board member, the following specific skills, knowledge and experience should be possessed by a number of Board members in order to balance out the skillset required of the Board as a whole.

  • knowledge of accounting, investments and financial literacy;
  • experience in dealing with ethics and legal issues;
  • knowledge and experience in areas of information technology, human resources and marketing, and communications;
  • political experience, and experience in advocacy programs;
  • expertise in the field of governance.


The Board should be representative of the many faces of Canada. The following criteria represent and reflect the society that is served:

  • diversity of gender, language, ethnicity and cultural heritage;
  • persons with disabilities, visible minorities and Aboriginal Peoples;
  • geographic, regional, and urban/rural balance;
  • balance in representation of various arts practices, communities and/or disciplines.

Working Conditions

  • The Board generally meets four times per year in Ottawa.
  • Members are expected to attend each Board meeting and to be available for conference calls when required. The average annual time commitment, excluding committee work is four weeks.
  • Board meetings are conducted in both official languages according to the preference of the person speaking.
  • Members of the Board receive a retainer and honoraria set by the Governor-in-Council, for each day on which they attend a meeting convened by authority of the Canada Council. In addition, members are reimbursed for reasonable travel and living expenses while undertaking these duties.
  • The Canada Council’s Code of Ethics is based on principles and procedures established in the Conflict of Interest Act. These principles and procedures are binding on each member of the Board.