Nova Scotia Status of the Artist Act
In 2012, the Government of Nova Scotia passed the Status of the Artist Act as a part of the implementation of the 2011 Arts and Culture 5-Point Plan. While not an official culture strategy, the 5-Point Plan set out the government’s priorities for supporting the development of the arts and culture sector for the following several years, which included developing and introducing Status of the Artist legislation.
The Act helps to define the role of artists and investment in supporting and fostering artistic activity in Nova Scotia. The legislation allows artists to set pay for work and services, outlines the government's roles and responsibilities toward artists, and helps ensure that Nova Scotians have access to artistic training and education. Another objective is to promote fair treatment for artists and enhance their contributions to making life better for families through Nova Scotia's creative economy.
For more information about the Act, please see: http://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20120330002
For more information about the 5-Point Plan, please see: http://cch.novascotia.ca/sites/default/files/inline/documents/fivepointplan.pdf
The province developed the legislation with input from the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, which advises government on arts and culture policy, based on legislation and best practices in other jurisdictions. The Council is made up of representatives from the arts and culture sector.
- Allows artists' associations to set levels of pay for works created and services rendered;
- Encourages fair treatment of artists by government and outline government's roles and responsibilities to artists;
- Continues to ensure all Nova Scotians have access to artistic training and education;
- Acknowledges the working conditions of artists;
- Affirms government's commitment to the rights of artists, for example, safe working conditions and freedom of expression and association; and
- Ensures government has the necessary tools to support Nova Scotia's artists and their unique needs.
For more information, please see: http://nslegislature.ca/legc/bills/61st_4th/1st_read/b001.htm
As stated under the Act (article 2 – Purpose), the results expected through its implementation are the following:
- the role of the artist in building the Province's identity and culture and the enhancement that art brings to the Province's social and economic well-being will be acknowledged;
- the terms by which Nova Scotians define who is a professional artist will be identified;
- the unique working conditions of the Province's professional artists will be acknowledged, as well as their right to:
- freedom of expression and association;
- have associations representing artists to be recognized in law and to promote their professional and socio-economic interests; and
- have access to advisory forums in which artists may express their views on their status and any other questions concerning them.
Two areas in which the Status of the Artist legislation has had direct impact on the working conditions of professional artists in Nova Scotia are the positive consequences emerging from a clear definition of “Professional Artist” and the acknowledgement of their associated rights.
The Status of the Artist Act defines a “Professional Artist” and Arts Nova Scotia is able to use this legal definition in the eligibility criteria for its funding programs. The definition also has an impact beyond funding eligibility and extends into the area of labour standards.
Professional artists are considered to be “self-employed.” While this designation provides some benefits such as autonomy and freedom in the exercise of their work and allows them to claim work related expenses for taxation purposes, artists had no historical right to self-organize and bargain collectively. Many artistic disciplines organized themselves into associations, but until federal Status of the Artist legislation emerged, the impact of such self-organization across Canada was limited. Nova Scotia’s Status of the Artist legislation allows for self-organization and collective bargaining in areas that are under provincial jurisdiction.
No direct financial resources were associated with the implementation of the Status of the Artist Act itself. However, this new act defining “Professional Artist” was designed and established concurrently with legislation that created Arts Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia’s agency responsible for delivering approximately $3.4 million in support of the province’s professional artists and arts organizations.