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Survey finds BC artist-run centres hard up

A nation-wide survey of compensation and employment standards in some Canadian artist-run centres illustrates a compromised position for those in British Columbia.

B.C. centres have less sizeable budgets than many provinces, one of the highest proportions of part-time employees and staff sizes of only one or two people for the majority of organizations, according to the Employment Standards in Canadian Artist-Run Centres and Independent Media Arts Centres Fall 2009 study published yesterday.

Centres in B.C. were also qualifying the number of positions they were reporting with accounts of provincial funding cutbacks and the likelihood of layoffs in 2010 when the survey was being conducted, according to the study.

The study was conducted in the fall of 2009 by the Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCA) and the Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMMA), two associations that currently represent 180 centres across Canada.

Only 14 of the 27 centres affiliated with the ARCA and IMMA in B.C. responded to the survey.

108 member organizations participated in the survey, which is described in the introduction as one of few current documents of working conditions in Canadian artist-run centres and the only with nation-wide scope.

The study also found that 60 per cent of employees in all artist-run centres surveyed worked an average of 7 overtime hours a week. Over half of those employees didn’t receive any overtime.

A third of centres offered time in lieu instead of overtime, a compensation that is ineffective as it often goes unused for lack of “slow periods”, according to some comments provided to the survey.

The study mentions that half of artist-run centres in Canada receive Canada Council of the Arts (CCA) funding, but the CCA keeps little data on the centres it funds.

Justin Langille reports for the Tyee

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