Friday, May 18, 2018

Artists Under Siege

Artist Steve Higgins

Sometimes it really does feel art, artists and creativity itself is under attack.

My headline for this post may seem overstated, but art, artists and creativity are more often than not, misunderstood and undervalued. Being an artist doesn't seem to qualify as 'real work' or a legitimate profession.

I say this in light of the most recent events involving a number of well known Canadian artists that have been, or about to be audited by Canada Revenue Agency.

Last week what made the headlines, was an item about a well known long time Nova Scotia artist and teacher Steve Higgins.
The CRA has been deemed him a hobbyist, not an artist, making a living from his art work and was ordered to pay tax on claimed expenses that he'd incurred when he created a large installation sculpture, receiving monies through public grants and sold for non-profit.

This has stunned and incensed the art community. In the statement made by CARFAC it stressed in no uncertain terms, that the CRA is gravely mistaken in their definition of what it means to be an Canadian artist and are alarmed by the implications of this and how it will affect artists.

The Canadian Artist Representation has now taken on the CRA on behalf of artists who are well established within the art community, who have received various grants in order to supplement their income.

As it stands, the government will grant professional artists money through Canada Council and then call them hobbyists, expecting taxes to be paid in kind, because there has been a supposed suspicious spike in income due to these grants. But this grand amount of money is not based on a regular yearly income.

For many years now the average income of a Canadian artist is approximately $18,000. If it wasn't for said grants, artists would have an even harder struggle financially.

I don't think the right hand of the government knows what the left hand is doing. They give with one hand and take with other.


thesycamoretree said...

Our current administration is interested only in the almighty dollar. What feeds the spirit - whether art or the beauty of nature - is seen as inconsequential unless there's money to be made. I'd rather have a belly a little less full and something beautiful to appreciate.

Catherine Meyers said...

Absolutely Bev. Well said. It's a sad state of affairs. Those of us who know how vital it is to feed the spirit just continue to press on and do what we can to speak out advocate, organize and remain hopeful.