After seven years of work, the Premier’s Task Force on the Status of the Artist has released its report and recommendations for a more vibrant arts and culture sector in New Brunswick.
“A number of the recommendations in the report are things that the Liberal Party has already spoken out on and championed in the legislature,” says Isabelle Thériault, Official Opposition Critic for Tourism, Heritage and Culture. “Specifically, we have urged the Higgs government to adopt a Status of the Artist Act that is not merely declaratory but contains concrete measures to substantially improve the socio-economic status of professional artists.”
There is currently no Status of the Artist legislation in New Brunswick, resulting in a lack of status recognition and gross socio-economic inequalities for those in the profession.
“Compared to other professionals, most artists do not have access to employment insurance, health insurance, workplace safety insurance or retirement,” explains Isabelle Thériault. “While there are some programs that cover benefits, employment insurance and pensions, they are for employees and do not take into account the realities of the arts profession, including what is called invisible work, which includes research and creation.”
While the Higgs government has committed to setting up a transition committee to analyze the recommendations put forward in the report, Thériault wants a timeline for implementation.
“The arts, culture and tourism were among the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, yet it was artists who gave us hope through online performances and other inspiring artistic initiatives,” says Thériault. “Changes must happen quickly, and the Liberal opposition will be seeking a timeline for the implementation of recommendations to cover the economic and social risks associated with the arts profession.”