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BriefsReportTable of ContentReport IndexRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and SciencesRoyal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences

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IN THIS section of the Report we have discussed the work of voluntary societies and their relations with certain agencies of the Federal Government; later in the Report we shall suggest methods by which in a positive way the activities of these federal agencies could become of greater value and interest to the people of our country as a whole. In the course of our inquiry, however, we have heard a number of observations to the effect that the Federal Government could do much to aid the work of local societies and institutions throughout Canada if it were prepared to revise or to relax certain of the regulations and restraints which, various local organizations informed us, are on occasion somewhat rigidly applied. For example, the Community Planning Association believes that its operations should be considered as "charitable" within the meaning of the Income War Tax Act, 1948, so that private or corporate contributors to its funds could claim deductions in computing their income tax returns; and other organizations have suggested that the regulations governing this matter are too severely interpreted.

2. We do not propose to comment on the complex legislation and regulations which must govern Canadian tax and tariff practices; it seems to us, however, that we should record a few of the points, relevant to this section, which have been made to us.

3. Local museums and galleries throughout Canada have made firm representations on the difficulties which they constantly experience in bringing exhibits and works of art into Canada, from the United States and elsewhere, for temporary exhibitions. We were told in Halifax that,

". . . tariff barriers . . . for scientific and cultural exhibits and supplies . . . are an unmitigated and discouraging nuisance . . . local examiners . . . are apparently compelled to see only that an article is made of brass, could be classed as furniture or might be used for peeling potatoes, and so the more restrictive and expensive provision applies".1

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts finds it cumbersome and time-consuming that customs regulations designed for commercial purposes are not infrequently applied to works of art and related material, whether in


exhibitions or as individual pieces. The Museum suggests that there should be some simple licensing procedure which would permit museums and galleries to import works of art on temporary loan and would do away with the present formalities which are, we gathered, a serious obstacle to the arrangement of important exhibitions in Canada. We heard similar observations in Saint John, Quebec, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton told us, somewhat to our astonishment, that as art exhibitions from abroad travel from one Ontario city to another, customs regulations must be observed in each city. We understand that regulations have been modified since some of these briefs were presented and that it is probably no longer true that racehorses from the United States travel with more freedom through Western Canada than American exhibitions of works of art, as the representatives of the Western Art Circuit wryly observed. But regulations governing the importation of works of art on loan for temporary exhibition in individual galleries still apparently cause vexatious delay and add to the difficulties of mounting an exhibition.

4. The Federation of Canadian Artists proposes that for the importation of works of art on temporary loan from abroad for exhibition in a recognized gallery in Canada no more should be required than a sworn statement from the curator or the person responsible.

5. Various Film Councils in Canada and other societies interested in the theatre have suggested that import restrictions should be removed on films, and film and theatrical equipment, when destined for non-profit organizations engaged in educational activities. This point was emphasized by the Canadian Handicrafts Guild and by the Chambre de Commerce de Québec.

6. We are aware that departments of government, responsible for these matters, must have great difficulty in providing for exceptional circumstances, and that good law makes hard cases; but from the emphatic and widespread convictions which we have observed throughout the country we consider that present practices concerning gifts to voluntary organizations and the importation of cultural and educational materials should be reviewed.

* From: Canada. Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Report. Ottawa : King's Printer, 1951. By permission of the Privy Council Office.

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