Applebaum-Hébert Report

Applebaum-Hébert Report. Name commonly given to the report of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee appointed by the Liberal government in August 1980. This was the first review of Canadian cultural institutions and federal cultural policy after the Massey Commission report of 1951. Its co-chairmen were composer Louis Applebaum and writer-publisher Jacques Hébert; there were 18 commissioners, including Sam Sniderman (owner of Sam the Record Man, and at that time director of CIRPA); John M. Dayton (then president of the Vancouver Opera); and Thomas Symons, author of To Know Ourselves (1975), the report of the Commission on Canadian Studies.

The Applebaum-Hébert Committee produced three publications: Speaking of Our Culture (Ottawa 1981), a guide for submissions; Summary of Briefs and Hearings (Ottawa 1982), and its final Report of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee (Ottawa1982), which contained 101 recommendations.

The committee's mandate was to investigate and represent the situations and needs of those 'thought to have an active interest in our culture and its institutions'. Its findings were largely shaped by its purpose: to propose improved means of administering arts funding following the 1979 Lambert Report, which proposed rationalizing fiscal and administrative procedures of state, and the 1980 assignment of culture to the Dept of Communications. The committee's activities were characterized by extensive public consultation and engendered wide public discussion of arts funding and policies. Its work involved preparation of a guideline for public consultation (which, critics pointed out, established clear parameters for discussion, such as proto-administrative categories for fine, commercial, and popular arts); the assimilation of 1369 written submissions, and briefs presented in 18 public hearings in cities across Canada; study of previously published and newly commissioned cultural research projects, reports, and statistics; preparation of the Summary of Briefs, and, finally, the Report.

The Applebaum-Hebert report represented both a continuation of and a departure from the principles and policies outlined by the Massey Commission. Both emphasized the importance of 'arms-length' support for artists, a principle which the Massey Commission had advanced in favour of establishing a semi-autonomous funding agency, the Canada Council, founded in 1957. The Applebaum-Hébert report reviewed a range of recent approaches to culture and accountability, and reiterateed the importance of political autonomy for the Canada Council and other cultural agencies as semi-autonomous government agencies. This was a significant part of the review process as government was attempting to impose more direct lines of political and fiscal accountability on all parts of government.

Both reports also emphasized the need to improve the economic status of artists, which is described as deplorable in both accounts. While the 1951 Massey report preceded (and directly facilitated) the founding of the Canada Council, the 1982 Applebaum-Hébert report reiterated this need, and corroborated the artists' claim that the major economic subsidization of the arts still came from artists themselves.

The Massey report, however, portrayed commerical culture and particularly the mass media as a threat to both traditional culture and Canadian sovereignty, while the later report adopted a pragmatic approach to the cultural industries. In that vein, its most controversial recommendation (not implemented by 1991) was that the CBC should relinquish all television production activities and facilities in favour of acquiring program materials from independent production companies.

In the section 'The Performing Arts,' the report advocated diversification of funding sources for performing arts organizations which are described as existing in a crisis-ridden state of deficit funding. Pointing out that attendance figures for all performing arts are high, the report urged new attention to youth and advanced training. The committee observed that 'Perhaps the most critical problem in Canadian serious music today is the lack of exposure of the works of Canadian composers'; it recommends a new Canada Council incentive program for new Canadian works; more adequate financial support to the Canadian Music Centre for storage, distribution and promotion of Canadian works; and greater support to the Touring Office of the Canada Council.

In the section 'Sound Recording,' the committee called for strengthened Canadian content regulations in radio programming. The committee recommended government assistance to Canadian-owned companies to distribute and market recordings of pop music and specialized materials recorded by Canadian artists (this was implemented in 1985 when the Dept of Communications provided an initial $25 million fund to FACTOR for this purpose). It also called for subsidy programs for specialized recordings (later implemented by the Canada Council) and for international marketing of Canadian records (in 1991 subsidized by FACTOR). The report also suggested that the CBC increase its production of Canadian recordings, and recommended greater assistance to the marketing of records and tapes, based on a levy on sales of blank audiotapes and videocassettes. In 1991 FACTOR was providing aid to marketing and (international, but not national) touring for recording in the private sector. The levy on sales of blank tapes had not been implemented.

A significant result of the Applebaum-Hébert report was the creation of the Canadian Heritage Council. Other recommendations included the call for a new Broadcasting Act (passed in 1990), assistance to community and campus-run radio stations (not implemented), the extension of the CBC's Radio Canada International (which, in fact, was later cut), and various means for the CRTC to encourage Canadian program production (see Governments and music).

The final report contained three committee member 'Minority Comments'. Albert Breton opposed Canadian ownership as conditional for support to record and book production and distribution; Joy Cohnstaedt emphasized the need for local CBC facilities in the regions; and Guy Robert criticized the committee for overlooking minority and counter-cultural needs and the importance of creating an infrastructure for continuing public consultation.

An alphabetical list (by author/association) of written briefs and a list of interventions, by city, presented to the committee may be found in the Summary of Briefs and Hearings, which also presents numerous citations from and summaries of briefs by artists, composers, performing groups, and cultural organizations.