Solange Drouin and Bill Skolnik, Co-Chairs of the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, on behalf of the 30 member organizations

On October 25, our Coalition will celebrates its twentieth anniversary. Coincidentally, it is October 25, precisely, that we will meet with the Trudeau government-mandated committee of experts regarding the revision of the broadcasting, telecommunications and radio communication acts. Both events will be an opportunity to reiterate our commitment to the diversity of cultural expressions. New regulations adapted to the digital challenges are essential. We, members of the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, a pan-Canadian organization bringing together the main Francophone and Anglophone cultural organizations in Canada, want to contribute to its development.

There is an urgent need to address the financing and dissemination of national cultural content. We believe that all who benefit from artistic creation must contribute to its funding. The field of contributors needs to be expanded to currently unrelated providers (internet service providers, mobile service providers) and web-based platforms, which can be simultaneously producers, broadcasters and online merchants. To impose this rebalancing is to defend the value of our businesses and our achievements.

Let’s also reflect on the evolution of the modes of diffusion of our cultural content. We must learn – and make understood – how an algorithm works. How are French and English Canadian music and films discovered on platforms such as Spotify or Netflix? What data do we have to compel them to share in order to ensure a minimum of Canadian online presence and to recommend the same content to their users? Can we get more transparency from the platforms?

Artificial intelligence is at the origin of recommendation algorithms. It is up to us to intervene to promote the diversity of cultural expressions and to put culture at the heart of discussions on the evolution of technologies and their impact on our industries. Artificial intelligence also brings promise for creation. However, its development could have a lasting impact on the production methods of the works and the work of the artists. If an artificial intelligence creates a new artistic form from the work of an artist, is the artist still the author? And is the work always a work if it is deprived of human intention?

Finally, we believe that protecting and promoting the nature and value of Canadian cultural content in all its forms on an international scale is essential. When renegotiating NAFTA – now USMCA – we campaigned for the maintenance of the cultural exemption. Our arguments have been heard. We applaud the efforts of the federal government, with strong provincial support, especially from Quebec, to ensure that culture is exempted from commercial commitments with Mexico and the United States. We have also followed closely the recent choices of the European Union: the vote in favour of the Copyright Directive in the digital age, and the adoption by the European Parliament of a quota of 30 % of European content in catalogues of video-on-demand platforms. These are major developments and, like our European partners, we believe it is essential to preserve the capacity of states to implement policies to support local cultural expressions.

On October 25, we will celebrate twenty years of progress in favour of culture. As a result of the work already accomplished, it is the challenges of today and tomorrow that mobilize us. On October 26 and 27, we will continue our reflection with our colleagues from African, European and South American coalitions at the 5th Congress of the International Federation of Coalitions for Cultural Diversity (IFCCD) to be held in Montreal. Let’s take inspiration from international initiatives and find local solutions quickly!

Contemporary and Future Challenges for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Data Access, Artificial Intelligence and International Perspectives

Thursday October 25th, 1:30 pm to 8 pm

Galerie Gora, 279 Sherbrooke West, suite 2015, Montreal

Registration required online