Vol. 3 No. 2 (Fall 1982)

THE CANADA COUNCIL AND THE THEATRE: THE PAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AND TOMORROW

William Kilbourn, Jean Roberts, David Gardner, David Peacock, Claude Des Landes, Walter Learning

To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Canada Council, and its years of assistance to Canadian theatre and scholarship, the Association for Canadian Theatre History/l'Association d'histoire du théâtre au Canada at its annual conference, 2 June 1982, brought together the Council's Theatre Officers from the past years to take part in a panel discussion on the role they played in the Council's aid to theatre. The panelists included Jean Roberts, who served as Theatre Officer from 1967 to 1970, David Gardner (1971-2), David Peacock (1972- 78), Claude Des Landes (1978-81, French section), and Walter Learning (1978-82, English section). The panel was chaired by William Kilbourn. Ann (Coffin) Young, who was with the Council when the Theatre Section was established, was unable to be present, but sent a letter which is quoted in the transcription. Each person was asked to speak about the role of the Theatre Section during the individual's term of office; then, the topic was opened to questions and discussion from the floor. As the transcription indicates, the panelists were candid in commenting on their own tenure, and equally so in answering questions from the floor. With assistance from the Council, and through arrangements set up by David Gardner and carried out by John Burgess of the Council's Public Relations Office, the Editors of the journal are able to publish a transcription of the proceedings.

Afin de distinguer le 25-ème anniversaire et ses anneés d'assistance au théâtre et à l'érudition Canadien, l'Association d'histoire du théâtre au Canada à sa conference annuaire, le 2-ème juin 1982 réunit les Officiciers de Théâtre des anneés passées du Conseil pour faire partir d'une discussion concèrnant leurs rôles dans l'aide que le Conseil donna au théâtre. La tribune se composa de Jean Roberts qui servit comme Officier de Théâtre de 1967 à 1970, David Gardner (1971-72), David Peacock (1972-78), Claude Des Landes (1978-81, section francophone), et Walter Learning (1978-82, section anglephone). William Kilbourn a presidé la tribune. Ann (Coffin) Young, qui fit partie du Conseil lorsqu' on établit la Section de Théâtre incapable d'assister à la conference envoya une lettre qui est citè dans la transcription. Chaque personne parla du rôle que la Section de Théâtre joua pendant son propre terme de charge; ensuite les spectateurs availat l'occasion de poser des questions et de prendre le parôle. Selon le transcription ceux de la tribune étaient francs en parlant de leur propre fonction et en rèpondant aux questions des spectateurs. Avec l'assistance du Conseil et l'organisation fournit de David Gardner et avanca de John Burgess du Conseil, les rèdacteurs du journal sont capable à publier une transcription du procédés.

MALCOLM PAGE, PRESIDENT OF ACTH/AHTC: We are very pleased to have William Kilbourn here to chair this very interesting and distinguished panel. William Kilbourn, founding Chairman of the Humanities at York University, author of a dozen books, one of them The Firebrand, which was singled out to be named in the conference program. I haven't got the other eleven or more in front of me, but in any case let us move on - Chairman, Toronto Arts Council; Member, Canada Council; sometime part-time drama critic, CBC; Member-Advisor, Gallery Ensemble, which included performing in what sounds to be an intriguing production of Beckett's plays back in the late 1960s. It's a well known name. I needn't say more. William Kilbourn will introduce his array of panelists.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Thank you very much. Well it's a great privilege and pleasure to be here for the first time. I am a historian, I suppose, by trade but have never been at your conference. I would remind you that the topic is 'The Canadian Council: the Last Twenty-Five Years and The Future.' The eternal present, well that will be with us hopefully or the fleeting moment, at all times. We have a panel so distinguished, so prominent, so venerable that you could go up and carve your initials on any or all of them, but so vital that you'd better not!

DAVID PEACOCK: We'd bleed!

WILLIAM KILBOURN: You might do something more than that - somebody might get hurt! We'll divide our session - I think that's the easiest thing to do - in two parts (so you won't have a long spiel from us), and then save the dialogue for the end. We'll look at the past through the eyes of each of the Theatre Officers of the Canada Council. It's quite remarkable that we have them all here except for the transitional person - the one who came before them and worked directly for Peter Dwyer before there was a Theatre Officer. I'll just have a word about her at the end. But we're going to hear from each of them for seven or eight minutes or even less, and then there will be some dialogue among themselves and with everybody. That's on the past, and I'm going to rule out comments and questions about the future, moral imperatives and future predictions and so on. Then with what time we've got left, we'll look into the future and we'll go back to the panel. I guess this time we'll start with David Peacock, and then everybody else as to what we would like to see, and what we are glad or unhappy to see coming up in the future.

So back to the first part. I'm quickly going to introduce each of our panelists in chronological order. When I read dates they are not their birth and death dates. They are the two dates at which each person was Theatre Officer of the 'Conseil des Arts.' We start with Jean Roberts, 1967-1970, now with CBC Drama, and among many things responsible for the National Arts Centre theatre section and Canadian Players and I won't go on with the litany. There is so much Jean has done and we owe her so much. David Gardner, 1971-1972, a very full two years with the Council: actor, director, artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse, now a scholar. I'm a fake academic, but he is becoming a real one, a Ph.D. in early Canadian drama - so early perhaps there is no one around to check up on it. But, you know, the other side of that is that you really need somebody there, not to check up so much, but just for (as one person said who was doing early Hungarian drama), not just so much for light but heat. What I mean is another warm body, and I hope David has found one. David Peacock, 1972-1978, from the Old Vic in Covent Garden through the National Theatre School where he became Director General, then after Theatre Officer with the Council here, Assistant Director of the Council, responsible for all the arts and now on loan, I'm both happy and regretful to say, to External Affairs and there in London - will you announce your marriage, or may I?

DAVID PEACOCK: Well, you can.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Yes, he's just got married! Claude Des Landes, 1978-1981, maintenant Chef des Arts de la scène au Département des Affaires étrangers, connu pour parmi beaucoup d'autres choses La Revue du Jeux et le Centre d'essai. It's nice to see Claude back again. We've missed him very much at the Conseil des Arts - and finally, the incumbent, and by God we're getting every last bit of juice out of him that we can until June 27 this month, Walter Learning, 1978-1982, R.I.P. He is out of Australian National University, Memorial in Newfoundland and, among many other things, also a distinguished actor and director who has paused briefly at the Canada Council in between Theatre New Brunswick and the Vancouver Playhouse. There he'll be tempting fate by not directing himself but putting on, as you probably all have heard, a production in which both Bill Hutt and Robin Phillips co-star. That's a hard act to follow, but watch for it - there's more to come!

Last I want to say that we've had a very nice letter from Ann Coffin Young who worked for Peter Dwyer. When a Theatre Arts Officer, as she says, was appointed, she was the first appointee. I'll just quote a couple of sentences from her letter. Unfortunately, she can't be with us today, she's in London. She's married, as you probably know, to Chris Young, correspondent and former Editor of The Citizen. She reminds us that Walter Herbert and the Canada Foundation were the people who initially arranged jurisdiction of applications from arts organizations. 'Peter Dwyer took over that responsibility when he became supervisor of the arts program and I joined' (that's Ann Young speaking), 'as Peter's assistant in 1960 becoming Theatre Arts Officer in 1965' - and then various regards - a nice letter! This will go as part of the record. She has been asked for and will produce a kind of historical contribution to this whole panel discussion but didn't think it appropriate that she do it for someone else to deliver other than herself. Didn't trust me, I guess! Well I know her well and she's right!

Now, I was asked to make just one comment myself about the bad old days, or not so bad old days of the Dominion Drama Festival and the school gymnasium and so on (the 50s and before), I thought that, since we are going on the record, it might be nice just to quote the person who in some ways invented early modern or is it post-modern (I'm not sure Canadian drama in the 30s, 40s, 50s and on to the 60s - Robertson Davies, alias Samuel Marchbanks. This little gem from Marchbanks sums up a lot of what it was like back in the 1950s. It's Marchbanks advice to an aspiring playwright Apollo Fishhorn, Esquire, and he writes: 'What is the Canadian Playhouse, Fishhorn? Nine times out of ten it is a school hall smelling of chalk and kids and decorated in the early concrete style. The stage is a small raised room at one end and I mean room. If you step into the wings suddenly you will fracture your nose against the wall. The lighting is designed to warm the stage but not to illuminate it. Write your plays, Fishhorn, for such stages. Do not demand any procession of elephants or dances by the maidens of Caliph's Harem. Keep away from sunsets and storms at sea. Place as many scenes as you can in cellars and kindred spots and don't have more than three characters on the stage at one time or the weakest of them is sure to be nudged into the audience.'

Well, alas, shortly after that bit of advice (it must have been reacted to), the Massey Report came out and quoted that passage, and Canadians got the monument complex or the edifice complex. Between the architects and the politicians they built vast halls when what a lot of directors and theatre people wanted to do was put on reviews and readings and repertory theatre and chamber music - small intimate things in the arts. But nevertheless, we've survived that stage too, partly perhaps thanks to the Canada Council. Now it is the turn of each of the Theatre Officers of the Canada Council to spend seven or eight minutes per person just conjuring up a story of maybe the best and maybe the worst - some aspect or two. Not to give us a blow by blow account, but just to tell us a little bit about their tenure as Theatre Officer at the Canada Council. We will go in chronological order, so we'll start with Jean Roberts who came to the Council in 1967.

JEAN ROBERTS: You have a better view than I have, but as I look along this row I really wonder what it is that we all had in common that made the Canada Council choose us - all for the same job. But whatever it was, I seem to be the oldest in chronological order and I have to cast my memory back furthest unfortunately to flesh out for you this little piece of history. I find myself a little intimidated to be in such an illustrious society to talk about something that to me remains happily in my mind and heart as a wonderfully special experience. The Canada Council represented for me (as I think it does, and certainly did to all of us), something that stood for so much of our dreams that we never really knew whether it would ever be fulfilled. But still, there it was, and I must say that I felt very proud to have been asked to join it. Please forgive me if I read this because I've been told, I've been warned that the theatrical hook (and I'm sure you all know what that hook is), is going to come out from the wings and definitely lift me off after seven minutes, so I really daren't go on too long.

Nineteen sixty-seven as you probably all recall was Centennial Year, and it was Expo Year and there was a tremendous amount of criss-crossing of the country of various performing arts companies. They gave nearly three thousand extra performances in that given year, and they had about 75% attendance in all of those performances. The Canada Council (I think quite rightly at that moment) detected that although this richness couldn't continue, some of it was certainly going to stick. So they decided at that moment to augment their staff.

Their offices in those days were on Wellington Street overlooking Parliament and so were the offices of the National Arts Centre, which was not even a hole in the ground in those days let alone the splendid pile that it is today in Confederation Square. I worked as a Special Consultant for the Canada Council, so I rubbed shoulders with the then Director Jean Boucher and with Peter Dwyer who was the Associate Director and head of the Arts Division in those days. My only real contact with them previously had been as a client of the Canada Council. In fact, I think I had been given the first money to train apprentices in the theatre by the Council. However, I mustn't digress.

One morning Peter Dwyer asked me in the elevator if I would step into his office. I tell you this because I think it describes a time in the Council's history which is no longer the case. He said to me with Jean Boucher: 'We wondered if you would be interested in joining the Council to look after our theatre for us.' I went off and thought about it for a day, and I came back and said 'Yes, thank you very much, I would like to come and join you.' And three weeks later I was there, and I was actually working as the Theatre Officer.

I don't somehow think that that could happen any more. I have a feeling that those people were able to act and deal with situations in a much simpler way, which is only an indication of how much things have grown in the meantime. But there was no Board, there was no newspaper advertising across the country for someone to do this job. It would seem that Jean Boucher and Peter thought that somehow I had something that was going to be valuable or useful to them. I soon learned, of course, that looking after the theatre for them was indeed a bit of a euphemism, because it turned out that looking after the theatre really meant dealing with the theatre in two languages and being the Dance Officer (also in two languages), which I wasn't ready for at all. However, I think the one thing that really was the deciding factor in this was that Peter said, 'And of course you're bilingual,' at the end of the interview, and I said, 'Oh, but I'm not bilingual. I never will be bilingual. Indeed I know very few people who are bilingual.' And Peter said, 'Ah, but you can manage in French,' and I said 'Oh, well yes, of course I can manage.' I very soon discovered what kind of a euphemism that was too! However, I have to quickly say that the very active community in Quebec in those days was very kind, very charming, and appeared to accept me whole-heartedly, which was very kind and very nice of them.

It would be very difficult to really give you what happened in those four years in any kind of consequential way. There was so much that was happening in those days. When I arrived, there was already (as Peter Dwyer said), a network existing of regional theatres. I think there were 17 theatres from Neptune in Halifax to the Vancouver Playhouse. The Manitoba Theatre Centre was in there; the festivals of course were in there. There was Stratford, there was the Shaw Festival, there was the Charlottetown Festival and there was the end of the Crest Theatre. The Crest Theatre was no longer. But there was, in fact, the possibility of the Toronto Arts Productions and a new theatre springing up in Toronto.

In Quebec, as I said, there were at least 8 of those 17 theatres. There was Les Grégores, there was le Théâtre de quatre sous, there was the Rideau Vert, there was the TNM. All of those theatres at that point were suddenly enjoying a rise in funds from the Canada Council which went from 1.3 million in the year before the Centennial Year to 2.1 million. A really big jump! A lot of that went to the Quebec Theatre because it was so active. It already was showing a tremendous strength in playwrighting and the Council tried very hard (and I think it succeeded) to respond to that kind of healthy activity in those days. As Peter says in one of his annual reports, 'The bulk of the money went to maintain the network of regional professional theatres which now extends from Vancouver to Halifax with a gaping hole in Saskatchewan which we hope will soon be repaired.' And indeed it was. The next year the Globe Theatre in Saskatchewan was given its first Council grant.

When I had been offered the job, I remember Jean Boucher saying, 'Of course, you realize you won't get any publicity.' I found it very hard to know quite what that meant at the time. But thinking about it later, I realized that there was some doubt in his mind as I was the first person that they had invited from the field. I was the first person from the theatre actually to go and work in the Council, and I think they were a little afraid that I would expect to become notorious or get good notices for whatever it was that I was doing. And, of course, in those days, and indeed I sometimes think that it still is, the Council was very retiring about its image and what it wished to impress on the country.

Anyway, I certainly found it very easy to be anonymous and to go merrily across the country and do my work. It's interesting though that in those days there was no way that I could communicate with any one of the Council's clients or go and see a performance of theirs without actually going to Montreal which was 120 miles away or to Toronto which was 270 miles away. That was the nearest point at which I could see any performances. I think indeed that during that first year I did see a Stratford performance played in a local cinema here on Bank Street in Ottawa because of course there was nowhere else for them to play. That was remedied too later on with the advent of the National Arts Centre.

I also found it very easy, however, to tell my constituents that the job of a Theatre Officer in those days meant weighing, and watching, and examining, and seeking opinions and advice and making recommendations to the Council, but the Council did make the decisions. I know that I've heard from time to time whispered criticism about the words 'rubber stamp' being bandied about, but in those days the Council really did decide.

Having just said that the theatre parish was the whole country, I find it interesting to note how Peter Dwyer describes it in another annual report. He says, 'Our European reader can note that the area with which we are concerned would stretch from Brussels to somewhere quite near the borders of Sing Kiuang Province in China.' Little wonder then that one of the things that the Canada Council did was to set up a Communications Fund to allow administrators and theatre people to get around and see each other's work and indeed to communicate a little because that was one of the most difficult things in the whole of this vast network. This was a precious fund because no one had money in their budgets in those days for air fares and all the junketing that seems to be more possible these days.

I especially remember the Council itself with great warmth. There was Jean Martineau who was a consummate chairman and who felt that the Council should be civilized in its food and drink as well as in its philosophy and therefore served very good wine. Pauline McGibbon, who knew a great deal about the theatre, was a member of the Council in those days; Alex Colville, the artist, was someone who understood the problems of the artists and was able and eager to explain them to the Council. There were special members of the staff like Lillian Breen who had known the Council from Day One and there was of course Monique Michaud who was my assistant and who is still with the Council looking after dance.

There was, of course, also the Theatre Arts Development Program, whose purpose was to help the theatre network, and to build and make more rich and rooted the theatre community. Thus, the Council needed to find ways of helping people to train for the theatre. Of course it gave substantial grants to the National Theatre School, because it believed that that was the place which would feed a great many of the various disciplines of the theatre: technical people, designers, actors in both French and English. But the Theatre Arts Development Program was a program whereby young managers, young PR people could be apprenticed and could be paid for with special funds without the theatre having to dig into the normal budget for a normal operating season. Thinking back, I remember that an extra little salary, however small, seemed to be something that was very often the last straw that really couldn't be managed and the Council was very aware of that.

The people who make theatre and the theatre people who were running things then would appear in the lists which you would see in the Council's annual reports because one of the ways in which the Council did a great deal of work in helping the theatre was through its grants to individuals. It was very aware even in those days, about the need to encourage Canadian playwrights and it tried to do this mainly in those days through the individual grants - the awards, the bursaries and the short term grants. It gave funds to the Dominion Drama Festival which were earmarked in those days for productions of Canadian plays where possible. They weren't necessarily professional productions, but they were productions and they were valuable to the playwrights. It also gave money to the Centre d'essai des auteurs dramatiques for the development of plays and in that way it did something. In the 1969 season, there were 25 new Canadian plays, which were performed in that season across the country, in 25 % of those established theatres that I have just been talking about. I only say that to you because I know that someone at this table is going to come out and tell you what enormous growth there was at a later moment. Among the bursars and award-winners were people whose names we'll hear forever: Bill Glassco, Yvette Brind'Amour, Tom Patterson, Leon Major. I won't single out any more, but I do remember one particular name with which you may not all be quite familiar. In the course of our work, Monique and I discovered an application from a chap called Doug Henning. May mean little to you. He wanted a grant to go and study with the Magic Circle and he wanted to take lessons in mime in order to be able to do a better show. It was our job to find ways of persuading the Council that magic - after all, illusion - was indeed an art and that this was a perfectly valid application. I recall sitting solemnly one Sunday in the Rideau Vert in Montreal with two or three members of the Council, or at least the Advisory Arts Panel. One was James Domville, I remember, and there was Yvette Brind'Amour and there were others. We sat and solemnly watched on a Sunday morning while Doug Henning gave a magic show for us and made ladies disappear and appear. We were, of course, enchanted and naturally I'm happy to say that we were able to advise the Council that this was a very good thing, and the Council indeed approved and he got his money and now look where he is! He's got his second Broadway show coming up.

But it's that kind of flexibility and that kind of readiness to react to things that I think Jean Boucher and Peter Dwyer - Peter Dwyer especially - wanted to encourage. They wanted the Council to be in a position to respond to unusual situations where people were not going to be able to look to normal sources for assistance.

One of the things that happened during my time there was that Jean Boucher was appointed Deputy Minister to the Ministry of Supply and Services and Peter Dwyer became the Director of the Canada Council. One of the great things about Peter Dwyer was his writing of the annual report. Peter had a way with words. You should go back if you have time to spare and get the Canada Council annual reports for the four years that I am talking about and probably before that. They really are masterful, I mean they are absolutely wonderful. Just at lunchtime we were talking about the litany of Peter Dwyer. I am very proud of one thing and that is that he did come and say to me one day: 'Have you got any things that I would like to be preserved from?' and I went away and thought about this, and I thought: 'I have to impress Peter Dwyer, I really have to impress Peter Dwyer. I must think of something,' and up it popped! And I'm glad to say that it appears in the litany and I'm very proud of it. It was 'The Lord preserve me from actors who want to be recognized before they've been noticed.'

I feel that this hook is hovering, so I mustn't say very much more. But I must tell you that during my time there, the Council helped to launch a special festival for the opening of the National Arts Centre. The TNM did Lysistrata and David Gardner brought The Ecstasy of Rita Joe from Vancouver and Jack Winter wrote a new play for the NAC Studio opening called Party Game. Gerard Pelletier invented the word "democratization" during my four years and we all had a great time pointing out how practically everything that we did was democratization in one form or another. I always wanted to go back to him and ask him to define exactly what he meant by democratization, as he never really did.

We helped companies sell season tickets by offering them an expert on sales called Danny Newman, and of course all these things sometimes brought their own problems. The moment that Danny Newman was able to help companies to increase their season ticket sales, we immediately dumped on them and said, 'Well, you see you're only attracting an older audience, because they have to be older in order to have enough money to buy these season tickets. So you're not doing it right this time either.'

My one particular hobbyhorse was that I was distressed (though during my time at the Council and before it and in the light of some more recent happenings, I think the situation still seems to be the same), to see that the road to theatre seemed to be strewn with the rolling heads of administrators and the blood of artistic directors, so I gained permission to have a study done by various people who were in the arts organizations of the relationship between boards of governors and professional management, which was aptly called by Peter Dwyer, 'A Guide for the Perplexed.' I don't know if it helped, but I think that recent events suggest - although I'm not supposed to talk about the future - that the Council might like to take a whole new look at that.

I can only say to you that I have described very untidily a little bit of what happened in four years. I'm conscious of the hook waiting and hovering around the back of my collar. I know that exciting things are going to be told to you in a much more orderly fashion and are waiting to be told, so I must leave the next person in the game to go on.

DAVID GARDNER: My era was marked, on the one hand, by the exciting turnaround of Canadian playwrighting and, on the other, by sad and turbulent events that threatened the very existence and fabric of the Council. It was also the time of that none-too-happy physical move from the old-fashioned offices you spoke about on Wellington Street to the open-office plan off the Sparks Street Mall. We will make no comment on that! But most devastatingly, two months after I arrived on the first of February of 1971, Peter Dwyer suffered the stroke that was to prove fatal years later and the interim command fell to a gentle literary man Robert Helie who was not perhaps ideally cut out for leadership in a troubled period.

Peter Dwyer had hired me on a phone call - not in an elevator. He solicited my interest and queried my French capabilities as well, which were not strong. He informed me, however, that due to my work with the Canadian Theatre Centre and the National Theatre School and my personal acquaintanceships with many theatre workers like Jean-Louis Roux and Gratien Gélinas, I was acceptable to the French community.

Peter Dwyer wanted me specifically to tackle two new main areas - subsidy for the rising alternate theatres and the dilemma of playwrighting in Canada. I had a budget of 3.4 million which grew to 4 million by the time I left. Most of it, of course (this is the great trouble with the budgets of the Canada Council), already was committed automatically to the sustaining of the groups that were there and with little annual increase (the inflation rate.) Approximately 25 or 30 groups were supported when I inherited the mantle from Jean. However, Gélinas' 'Comédie Canadienne' collapsed, freeing $100,000, which gave me some elbow room. However, halfway through the year (when this fact became more generally known), $50,000 of that was taken away internally - I think to bolster the Montreal Symphony. However, I was able to win some of those monies back and keep the theatre budget at full strength.

Also, as Jean has mentioned, it was clear that I was no expert in dance, while my assistant Monique Michaud certainly was beginning to be an expert and was studying thoroughly and intensively and loved the dance and is still the dance officer. A compromise was worked out whereby Monique took over the dance portfolio while continuing to assist me, mainly in my French correspondence. But it meant too that in one way I lost a full-time assistant. I began meeting the new companies during the year and a half that I was with the Council and bringing them into the fold: Tarragon Theatre, Factory Lab, Theatre Three in Edmonton. I also helped new regional theatres emerge: Le Trident, the Grand Théâtre - the theatre that Guy Beaulne was in charge of; the Gryphon Theatre in Barrie, which had hopes of being a regional theatre for Central Ontario at the time when it was constituted, rather than the summer theatre it has become; the Bastion Theatre in Victoria, and the transition from amateur to pro at Theatre London.

I also took a flyer and gave a grant in its first year to Festival Lennoxville because of its all-Canadian program and the involvement of people like Frances Hyland, Doug Rain, Donald Davis, John Hirsch, etc. In total 15 to 20 new organizations were added during my regime.

The second part of my mandate began to take shape when I conceived the idea of an intimate week-long conference on Canadian playwrighting at the Council's Stanley House property in the Gaspé. It was capable of housing about a dozen people and I gathered together all the hot-heads and the prickly pears from coast to coast, French and English, plus one American playwright who had run a play centre in the United States. It was the summer of 1971 and the purpose was to bitch and then construct realistic recommendations for the theatre in general and the Council in particular, which I would do my best to implement.

By the end of the week several directions emerged. The need for publishing plays - we met with Shirley Gibson at the beginning of this conference - and, of course, increasing the subsidies and renewing the subsidies to writers, and of course the one attention-grabbing resolution of 50% Canadian content. Jack Gray composed the final communique calling it a 'strange enterprise' after the Molière phrase, 'The entertainment of decent people is a strange enterprise.' And it was released to the press with a bomb-shell effect. It quickly divided the sheep from the goats as critics and artistic directors argued the pros and cons of the quota system. But within a year the battle of acceptance was won. Canadian play production in the major theatres, not just the alternates, increased from 30% to 51% in one year and Playwrights' Co-op had been formed out of a longer and larger, more public follow-up meeting at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I argued a 'Canadian priority' policy in Council with the Advisory Arts Panel and I remember once being rather over-emotional in my argument. The policy, I'm afraid, had to wait until Walter's era. However, I did bombard the theatres with lists of available Canadian plays, attendance statistics and questionnaires that probed their attitudes towards Canadian content and the quota system. And I confess to using my position on many occasions to lobby directly with artistic directors for additional Canadian content in their programming. Bob Sherrin and several others can attest to that. There was a dramatic increase in the number of individual grants to playwrights and the new Play Centre in Vancouver joined the Centre d'essai in Montreal.

My last year was characterized by battles of a different sort: the OFY and LIP grants which in the long run did some marvelous seed work. New groups like Toronto Free Theatre and Tamahnous emerged. But for every successful experiment an extraordinary amount of theatrical money, in my opinion, was also being wasted. They were designed, of course, as 'make-work' projects and assigned on a regional basis. But there were no real merit considerations at all. Theatre was just a good labour-intensive project to submit, but it meant that while I struggled to scrape together a first seven thousand dollars operations grant for Tarragon and eleven thousand dollars in Lennoxville, the Sudbury Little Theatre was given $90,000 to mount a single production and they were amateurs. I don't know what they did with the money! Obviously they paid everybody rather well. And suddenly one federal level was being pitted against another and frankly, the Canada Council was being upstaged and to the tune (I did a survey) of nearly 4 million dollars in terms of theatre, equal in fact to the Council's theatre budget. As one wit observed, however, it was a means of getting sustenance to the sparrows without having to go through the horse!

Finally, near the end of the program, I was allowed to meet the federal officer who gave out the theatre monies and he was a charming young guy with long hair, but he admitted no theatre expertise, and he was a bit startled when I quietly and gently pointed out the inequities that were happening in this so-called democratization process. Of course, the good new groups were worth it, but when they became successful it meant that they appealed to the Council to be sustained. So the Council was served a double whammy.

However, the federal 'make-work' programs did point out that a great Council weakness - the lack of funding available to respond to new initiatives. The growth of companies during my tenure doubled the work load and, with no increase in staff, the toll quite frankly began to tell. My work pattern consisted of interviews and phone calls all day and then hand-writing or dictating correspondence replies until about eleven o'clock each night - a pattern that was further disrupted by cross-country travel and for me French enrichment courses - Civil Service. Suddenly, one day I found myself writhing on the floor behind my desk in this lovely open plan with anxious secretaries all around. Well, it was diagnosed as gallstones, lovely, clear, crystal ones, and I had them out in the Ottawa General and decided in my hospital bed that I was rapidly becoming dangerously exhausted, frustrated and a bit weary of finding new ways to say 'No' all the time. I decided to resign and pursue some sort of sabbatical after twenty non-stop years. About three weeks before I left, André Fortier was appointed as the new Director. He said, 'Stay and we'll find extra staff,' but it was too late. We'd already bought a house in Toronto. He thanked me for leaving without any 'claquer la porte,' and I hope we're far enough away today from those events that I can now 'claquer la porte' in a purely historical perspective.

There were several highlights as I look back behind the scenes, and a lot of the Theatre Officer's work I confess to you is behind the scenes. I recommended a federal capital costs grant for building the new Shaw Festival Theatre. I also established a travelling grant for critics so that they could undertake comparative cross-country trips to write about theatre in the rest of the country. That was an idea that was picked up by the music section as well. I was also in on the start of the Touring Office - an idea that first began under Jean - and there was a major debate at that time about whether it should be controlled by the Council or the National Arts Centre. I also granted monies toward a twenty-year history of the TNM and I recommended to Betty Lee that Love and Whisky might be enriched by including a chapter on beginnings leading up to the DDF.

But I would say that my major contribution was acting as a somewhat anonymous catalyst for the turning round and acceptance of Canadian playwrighting. The most wonderful part of the job was the national perspective it gave. A chance to weigh the regional differences against national similarities and of course the simply marvelous contacts that one makes. It also helped to develop one's sense of humour! I wrote a satirical item for the Council staff bulletin called the FLIP grants, for example. But the great humourist, as Jean said, was Peter Dwyer and I'd like to just conclude by giving you Peter Dwyer's Twenty-Third Psalm for the Arts. I dedicate it to you in your memory, Peter. A Psalm for the Arts.

Status quo is my problem, I shall endure.
It maketh me to lie down with anachronisms,
It leadeth me beside the big egos,
It corrupteth my goals,
It forces me to compromise for compromise's sake.
Though the impact has gone from much of the repertory forced on me,
I will check my boredom;
For time is with me;
My belief in their retirement shall comfort me.
Though they preparest canapés before me
In the presence of the Women's Committee -
Though they holdest fast to black ties and the nineteenth century -
Though the society page runneth over -
Though deficits and closed minds follow me all the days of my life,
Still will I work in the world of the arts a little longer.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Thank you very much David. David Peacock now.

DAVID PEACOCK: I received a phone call too, and I never had a board. I was asked to leave the National Theatre School when David Gardner had had to leave the Council, and I said yes because like many other clients - and I had been a client in the Theatre School - the idea of the Council and the philosophy of the Council and the raison d'être of the Council excited me very much. When I arrived at Council the thickest file that I inherited was correspondence between John Juliani and David Gardner on the place of the Canadian playwright.

DAVID GARDNER: And Herschel Hardin.

DAVID PEACOCK: ... and Herschel Hardin.

DAVID GARDNER: I wrote a 24-page typed letter to answer Herschel Hardin's 60 something points.

DAVID PEACOCK: I then inherited the further answer. I inherited, yes, the problems of LIP. The problems of the multiplication of theatres artificially multiplied with funds, but which eventually created a clientele which Council could not respond to adequately with the funds available to them. So you had the constantly recurring problem of activities started (perhaps for the wrong reasons) appearing and remaining for the right reason because they were good. And then Council being incapable of giving them the monies they needed when LIP withdrew the money because they were professional and on-going. So you had companies going from $90,000 from LIP to $12,000 from Council for equivalent work and equivalent seasons. When I started in '72-'73 there were 49 companies. All three of us would like to claim that we created the post of Dance Officer which was then filled by Monique. I did, in fact, finally separate the dance from the theatre budget.

DAVID GARDNER: But we all loved Monique!

DAVID PEACOCK: But we all loved Monique! I seem to have lasted longer than anybody, I'm not quite sure why! Maybe I found more ways of saying 'no' than other people, There were 49 companies when I started and if I could just run over six years very quickly, first there were 49, then 58, 70, 102, 125, of which 10 died the following year. We were down to 115, but then there were 32 others on project funding. The theatre budget, and again I would remind you that the budget figures that have been quoted include awards not just what was available for companies. The figure went from 4 million in the year that followed David up to 9½ million in '77-'78. I enjoyed a period of expansion.

Under Mr Pelletier it was perceived that various other art forms had received the increases that they needed and it was the turn of the performing arts. The mills of government slowly ground through eternal meetings to come up with a 3-year plan for the development of the performing arts. And in '75-76 there was, in fact, a major increase. The theatre budget went from 4.8 to 7.2 percent. It was wonderful, wonderful. I mean suddenly one could do things! Unfortunately the first year proved to be the last year of that 3-year plan because of government cutbacks and inflation. The following year the budget went from 7.2 to 7.8 percent, although I had managed to generate 30 more companies, believing that it was going to last three years. All of these obviously were waiting for the increases to which they were fully entitled, but couldn't have.

Then came the years of having established that clientele. Theatre doesn't die! Theatre companies and organizers and whatever will swear on their hearts that if they are given one really good first grant they won't come back to you, but of course they do. I remember the first person I met when I got this job. I was rather shattered after my first day. I had spent the day trying to find out what happened. Monique had explained to me some of the 'rouages' with the Council, some of the machinery, and totally overwhelmed I staggered to the bar of the National Art Centre (which by then was open) for a drink, and met Walter Learning who told me about the situation and needs of Theatre New Brunswick. He was the first client I ever met and he continued to beat me over the head.

I found one of the most exciting things about being Theatre Officer was the combination of friendship and antagonism. I was impressed by the ability of the theatre community in their generosity to make a distinction between the man and the job. It was their job to beat me over the head and they would - regularly - as they did to all of us, and afterwards we would then go out and have a marvelous dinner or talk, and talk about theatre because all of us loved and cared about theatre.

One always responds to the needs of the theatre community: One doesn't start things one's self ever - one responds to what the theatre community says they need and want, and then you try to give it to them. With the help of Linda Trott who was the first assistant (I finally got an assistant), and then with Linda Gaboriau, we did I think give credibility to theatre for young audiences as a viable art form, started to give them grants, pull them out of the educational limbo in which they had been stuck. I think we managed to set on the road some of the most exciting theatre companies in the country in that field. I continued to try to help the Canadian playwright, I continued to try to help the companies that were committing themselves (and they were always the younger companies sadly), to the development of Canadian plays. They grew and developed in my last three years when funds were more or less held down; the monies had to be found at the expense of the larger companies, which were better established.

I remember the first grant to a company that had been assisted originally by the visual arts, which then came, I think, through Explorations, and finally came to us. It was the only company whose balance sheet had straw for horses, and equipment for caravans. It was the Caravan Stage Company, under Kirby, who travelled through the interior of British Columbia with Clydesdale horses and horse-drawn caravans. I remember seeing in six years more theatre than perhaps anybody in this country, because again all of us have worked on the basis of personal contact - not from behind a desk. I recall being excited by discovering the spark of creativity that was moving more and more out from the centre and into the provinces. I think the two other things that happened particularly in my time at the Council were the increasing involvement of the provinces, and, in the best sense of the word, the decentralization of theatre, the development of a regional voice, the perception that there's no such thing anyway as a national theatre, that the theatre is the totality of the activity happening all the way across the country - English and French. I was very fortunate in being born bilingual from childhood - so I didn't have the problem of language, but I had to learn joual, and that's almost as hard! I was lucky I'd worked at the National Theatre School for many years and in Montreal for many years, and I could go to French Canadian theatre and understand what was being said and what was being done - though I would never dare try to speak it even now.

I think the most vivid memories for me are the commitment of the artists and directors who, with their own blood, and guts, and effort, and some help from Council, managed to make and create the theatrical community that we have today. Council did not do it. We helped, but they did it, at enormous personal cost in health, in struggle, in survival, and the story of theatre through that time was - I believe still is today - the story of survival, and I raise my hat to the theatre people whom I tried to help when I was there, because they are the ones that did it, not me. Thank you very much.

CLAUDE DES LANDES: C'est de façon plutôt innattendue que je fus approché pour me joindre au Conseil. Je suis sûr que vous auriez été aussi surpris que moi de recevoir un beau matin un appel téléphonique d'un agent du Conseil qui, tout en vous mentionnant mystérieusement qu'un nouveau poste s'ouvrait, vous conseillerait avant toute explication de refuser l'offre: 'Quelqu'un va t'appeler aujourd'hui, Claude, pour te faire une proposition embarrassante, il se nomme David Peacock ... : refuse ..., il s'agit d'une responsabilité trop contraignante.' J'ai finalement compris de quoi il était question ... et je passai une entrevue. Au bout de quelques jours, j'acceptai l'emploi. J'avouerai aussi que jene savais trop à quoi m'en tenir devant le 'mariage' qu'avait, pour ainsi dire, fomenter le Conseil. En effet, pour la première fois, le Conseil décidait de créer une section francophone à l'intérieur du Service du théâtre et d'y placer à sa tête ... une 'tête associée' comme on dit en anglais: Associate Head!

Pendant l'été qui précéda mon arrivée au Service, je profitai de mes moments libres pour échafauder des théories et planifier une réforme dans l'attribution des subventions aux compagnies. C'était une toute autre réalité qui m'attendait cependant. D'une part, une pléthore de compagnies qui s'adressaient au Conseil et, d'autre part, une machine administrative, un instrument malgré tout assez souple, qui faisait face à des contraintes budgétaires l'obligeant à réduire malgré elle sa marge de manoeuvre d'année en année. Avec le recul, je crois que nous nous sommes bien défendus, compte tenu des restrictions financières. A mon départ, trois and plus tard, l'équipe du Service du théâtre avait su faire obtenir globalement une augmentation de plus de 30% pour les compagnies. Je citerai, entre autres, des troupes comme La Marmaille, Le Parminou, La Bordée ou encore le Théâtre Populaire d'Acadie qui virent leurs subventions tripler et même quintupler.

A mon arrivée, je fus frappé par le respect mutuel qui existait entre le Conseil et les artistes et, davantage, réconforté de constater le niveau professionnel des liens qui, au cours des ans, s'étaient créés entre les agents du Conseil et les gens du métier. La qualité de ces relations qui ont toujours eu cours sont et demeurent à mon avis la base du fonctionnement du Conseil. Cette façon de faire, cette éthique ne devrait pas nous surprendre mais souvent demeure ignorée du grand public ou des autres agences gouvernementales.

Je disais donc que je m'étais laissé aller à des rêves avant de débuter au Conseil. Je n'avais pas essentiellement à l'esprit de doter les compagnies de ressources financières plus grandes; avec l'équipe du Service, je concevais qu'il fallait entreiner les membres du Conseil à adopter une nouvelle approche et à prendre rapidement des décisions qui, d'une part, solutionneraient les problèmes inhérents à la difficile survie des compagnies établies et qui, d'autre part, répondraient adéquatement à la croissance phénoménale des 'jeunes compagnies'. Devant l'effervescence du milieu théâtral, il devenait urgent pour l'équipe du Service du théâtre de formuler des réponses qui correspondent aux besoins de l'ensemble du milieu.

Si, à l'origine du Conseil, il était facile de dénombrer les compagnies presque sur les doigts des deux mains, il est bon de remarquer qu'il existait en 1978 près de 200 compagnies professionnelles dans le seul milieu francophone. Nous devons nous réjouir sans conteste de ce dynamisme. Toutefois, cela vous laisse imaginer aisément la tâche qui nous incombait au Conseil, il y a quatre ans. Nous avons reçu jusqu'à 125 demandes annuellement: dans les limites de nos moyens, nous sommes venus en aide à une soixantaine de groupes francophones. Devant cette réalité, grâce à l'appui des artistes membres du Comité consultatif et des jurys avec qui désormais nous analysions les demandes, nous avons tenté d'établir un meilleur équilibre. Face à l'écart marqué et grandissant entre le plus nantis et tous les groupes qui n'attendaient qu'un appui raisonnable pour poursuivre leurs buts, nous avons établi des mécanismes afin de permettre la naissance de 'compagnies moyennes' et ainsi assurer à long terme un développement plus rapide des troupes. Un des buts visés était de stimuler à la fois les nouveaux groupes et les compagnies établies. Pour se faire, nous avons mis en application un programme de subvention de fonctionnement garantie pour 3 ans. Apportant une sécurité de travail plus stable à un certain nombre de groupes, ce genre de subvention avait pour buts d'inciter les dirigeants de ceux-ci à affirmer clairement leurs objectifs et à faire preuve d'un sens administratif plus rigoureux. Pour compléter ce programme, nous avons lancé celui de 'Assistance-consolidation'. Par ce moyen, nous avons voulu collaborer avec les compagnies à faible budget et remédier à des lacunes précises qui ralentissaient leur évolution: que ce soit dans le domaine de la promotion de leurs spectacles, de la comptabilité, etc.

Lorsque j'ai pris la parole, j'ai utilisé le terme de 'mariage'; ce n'était pas uniquement par humour. En effet, je pense que, malgré toutes les affinités qui existaient entre la façon de concevoir l'exercice du métier dans une langue ou une autre au pays, il y avait des comportements différents. Par exemple, dans les années soixante et début-soixante-dix, les artistes anglophones de Toronto ont d'abord songé à se constituer en compagnie et à ouvrir des lieux de spectacles. Du côté francophone, à Montréal, ce sont aussi fondées des troupes, mais avant tout pour présenter des créations collectives, offrir des spectacles originaux d'auteurs québécois, sans songer à se fixer dans des salles où elles pourraient éventuellement poursuivre des activités permanentes. je généralise peut-être, je l'admet. Pourtant, c'est là un fait qui démontre l'orientation différente qui s'est manifestée dans les deux milieux. D'où aussi les problèmes distincts auxquels la section anglophone et francophone ont dû faire face. Il ne s'agit pas d'approfondir ce sujet aujourd'hui. Si je soulève ce point, c'est pour en arriver à indiquer que les responsables des deux sections du Service du théâtre ont eu à partager des expériences qui vont bien au-delà de cet exemple pour enrichir le Conseil et, par le fait même, à formuler d'un commun accord des idées nouvelles qui allaient servir à l'ensemble de la communauté théâtrale canadienne, Qu'il suffise de mentionner l'exemple des troupes pour enfants qui maintenant s'accueuillent mutuellement à Vancouver et à Montréal, qui échangent leurs renseignements sur les circuits de tournées disponibles ici et à l'étranger. Quelque soit le type de collaboration mis de l'avant, nous devons tout de même être humbles et admettre que ce sont les initiatives des compagnies elles-mêmes qui nous ont incités à exercer notre action de façon mieux définie.

Finalement, je crois que c'est parce que le Conseil fait reposer ses décisions sur le principe de la consultation avec le milieu artistique des divers coins du pays, qu'il a toujours su intervenir aussi efficacement. Pareil principe existait constamment à l'intérieur-même du Conseil. Quand j'y pense, je demeure émerveillé par le partage d'opinions qui régnaient entre les Services, les possibilités de 'comploter' (oserais-je dire) ouvertement entre agents afin d'assurer le mieux-être des artistes ou des organismes. je ne voudrais pas créer de confusion par ce que je viens de dire; en termes concrets, les artisans du théâtre avaient (et ont toujours) à leur disposition 5 services où ils pouvaient s'adresser selon les besoins: l'Office des tournées, le programme des bourses, Explorations, le nôtre ainsi que celui des Lettres, pour ce qui était des dramaturges. Il est arrivé souvent que 2, 3 ou même 4 de ces Services se consultent avant de répondre à une demande et afin de trouver une réponse satisfaisante à tel projet présenté. Je ne sais pas si beaucoup savent cela. J ne puis qu'espérer que cette complicité humaine d'être une des premières règles de l'éthique du Conseil. Par nature, le théâtre est l'expression des sentiments d'une collectivité; il demeure, j'en suis convaincu, la manifestation culturelle la plus représentative de l'évolution d'un peuple. Je souhaite que le Conseil lui accorde autant d'attention qu'il l'a fait jusqu'à aujourd'hui.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Merci beaucoup Claude, and last Walter Learning.

WALTER LEARNING: Well I wish I could tell you that Bill Kilbourn had shown something approaching Christ-like wisdom, as you all know, in dealing with the problem of the lack of wine at the wedding of Canada, saved the best till the last. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the case. We all referred to how we came to the Canada Council. I was returning from a performance in St John, New Brunswick, on a cold and windy night, when a semi-balding man (David Peacock) jumped out from behind the truck, whipped open his raincoat, took out a pad and said, 'Are you bilingual?' I said, 'Yes,' but I didn't tell him that it was Newfoundlandese and English at that point. But anyway, about a year or so later, I ended up with the Canada Council and I'm still not quite sure how I ended up with the Canada Council. But I do know that, as I'm leaving the Canada Council, Jean will be glad to know that Tim Porteous has been seen in elevators all over the country, pulling people in. The elevator goes up and comes down, but so far nothing has come out. Jean wondered what common quality we all had that, somehow or other, had fated us to end up with the Canada Council. I would like to think that we all possess, in some degree or other, the quality of mercy. That's a cue to read you a very, very short poem by Alden Nowlan, a chap that I've had the pleasure of working with over the years. In his new book of poetry is a poem called 'The Practice of Mercy,' and he says,

Beginning the practice of mercy,
Study first to forgive those who have wronged you,
Having done that you will be ready for the sterner discipline
Learning to forgive those you have betrayed and cheated.

Well, I think we all have the first. About the second, I think it takes time to see in your own heart and soul if you have cheated or betrayed others, and I certainly don't think that we have consciously done that too often. But, I'd like to tell you about one of the first examples of mercy that was exhibited to me at the Canada Council. As you all know, of course, artistic directors choose their seasons out of a deep-rooted aesthetic which you know is years in the making. It's all part of a grand master plan, and I was just like that when I was an artistic director. Unfortunately, coming up to the 1971 season I needed one more play and I was on my way to Ottawa to see the then Theatre Officer David Gardner, and I needed one more play. Somebody had just come back from London and they gave me the reviews of a new play which had just opened called Sleuth, and I read the reviews and it sounded just like what we needed. So we budgeted very quickly, put it in the budget, and I whipped off to Ottawa and arrived in this open plan office. David was not at that point writhing on the floor behind the desk, but he was sitting there looking over my budget, and I was telling him that 'Look you know, all bull aside this budget cannot be cut, I mean this is absolutely bare bones,' and he said: 'Well, yes well this Sleuth here.' And I said 'Yes?' 'But,' he said 'you've got Sleuth down for four characters; it's a two character play.' And I said 'Yes, but it is a four character play,' having just read the reviews but having never read the play. Of course, in the reviews, they didn't give away the trick and David very, very kindly smiled at me and informed me that if I were to read the play I would find out that I could save a couple of salaries.

On many subsequent occasions when people have tried to con me, I have remembered that moment and, like the wolf who offers his throat knowing that the other wolf won't rip it out, I have always depended on that.

I have had an incredible four years, a very exciting four years. I've had the opportunity of working with a professional staff. I had the blessing that the others didn't have; I had a relatively large staff. I say only 'relatively' large, but it is nowhere near large enough but made up of theatre professionals who have been so kind and generous to me. So has the theatre community at large. That has been a great pleasure.

Over the last four years, we have had to cope with the doom and gloom of the whole economic situation in this country, which psychologically has done a lot to a lot of people and that isn't finished yet. But even given that and given the hard times, we did a lot in terms of the amount of money we had available for organizations. Not including awards, I think we started in '78 with 7.5 million and now we are at about 13.2 or 13.3 million. The real demand in '78 when I went in was running around 12 million. That's what we needed at that time to respond, and I would say now that the real demand is running around 22 to 23 million so the gap is still very very wide. In terms of numbers of companies, I think as David Peacock said there were about 115 when I started. Now there are, depending on the day, anywhere from 160 to 170 and about God only knows how many waiting in the wings. There is no need to stimulate or to create companies. There are lots of them out there waiting to come on.

One of the highlights for me over the last four years has been, to see the maturation of a process that had been started long before. If I've had any success over the last four years it is because I have been able to stand on the shoulders of the people who came before me and have had the staff that I've had to work with. But to see the maturation of the professional organizations! For example, to see the maturation of an organization (as annoying as it can be at times), like the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres! To see the maturation of Playwrights Canada! The beginnings of the Association of Canadian Designers! The quite remarkable and very untroubled transition of Actors' Equity into Canadian Actors' Equity, which I think has done a lot to change the context in which we work. No longer do we work on a contract which was devised for New York but a contract which is now hammered out between representatives of the professional theatre companies of Canada, the anglophone companies and Actors' Equity, which sometimes does reflect the reality of working in this particular country.

Just before I arrived at the Council, while David Peacock was still there with Linda Gaboriau and they had done a marvelous study on theatre for young audiences, it was agreed as a matter of policy in that year that when and if additional funds became available, the majority of those funds would be earmarked for the assistance of the growth and development of theatre for young audiences. I'm very proud that over the last four years the vast majority of the money that became available to us, went into that area, because no doubt during that period of time we had to freeze, for the most part, the major regional theatres, the larger institutional theatres. That is beginning to hurt now and we will have to stop doing that. But that was carried through. It would have been wonderful if we had had more money to do even more.

I'm very proud of the fact that, perhaps my not being bilingual, turned out to be a benefit in some ways, in that it forced very quickly the recognition that the theatre in this country, in the very practical sense was not monolithic. You could not just simply develop policies in a bureaucratic sense, which applied fully and totally across the mosaic that we have in the theatre in this country. Certainly, it was an incredible benefit and breakthrough to have Claude Des Landes with us during that period of time.

The establishment of the Theatre Consultative Committee was an important milestone, and I think everybody who has worked at the Council as the load developed realized that the Canada Council itself could not deal with every single one of those cases. David Gardner has the shortest period of time as a Theatre Officer at the Canada Council of any of us. I almost broke his record by being there for three months. At the very first meeting in June of '78, I saw the results of the work of the Theatre Section, which were in three large grey volumes coming to the Council. I realized that the workload was so great that applications would not receive the detailed treatment that the clients deserved and the work that the staff had put into them deserved. I made it quite clear that unless some provision was made for those cases to be studied in detail, I would not be prepared to go beyond the September meeting of the Council. It was at that point that we formed the Theatre Consultative Committee, which is made up of representatives of the Advisory Arts Panel who are on for three years; each year an additional number of people are co-opted for a year from representative companies across the country. There is an anglophone one and a francophone one, and they initially dealt with all companies receiving first time funding or funding up to $25,000, (the limit is now up to $75,000). They do not recommend grants or determine grants, but they do keep the officers honest. Not that the officers would want to be dishonest, but there is a tendency to bring one's own bias to anything and it's very very good to have that safety valve there where your assumptions and your presuppositions are checked constantly by that Committee.

Many of the other things which I could mention are, in fact, continuations of things that were started right from Jean on back, For example, the development of the Canadian playwright, which goes in fits and starts but I think is on a very very positive track. I think my principal disappointment is that (not dealing in individual cases but in general), I think that there has been a tendency in terms of the appointments to the Board of the Canada Council. Of course, Bill Kilbourn excepted, I think that there has been a tendency to debase the quality of the appointments to the Board of the Canada Council. Now, I'm sure that won't mean the Vancouver Playhouse will be cut off, but I think that is some cause for concern. We live in a very real world and one understands that political appointments, are political appointments but I think also that one hopes that along with that will come a certain knowledge and commitment, and I think at times that has been lacking. So I'll leave it at that.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Now we started about half an hour late. We've gone about seventy-five minutes, and I wonder if we could have a very quick exchange. It may collapse to very little but could you keep comments (whether from here, of from there) or questions very brief. Then we'll have a wind up session in which I'll ask each of the panelists to be thinking of how in one and two minutes they can be prophet, visionary or seer. They'll say whatever they want to say as an envoie and also as a testament to the future. Any comments, questions. We may zip through the immediate moment very quickly. I think if you don't want to comment just at this point on the past, don't hesitate if something occurs to you as we go through our five panelists. We have somebody, yes.

[QUESTION from audience inaudible.] ANSWER from panel:

DAVID PEACOCK: It's perfectly true that once a company has been created, it is very hard to remove the dependence. The reason is not that it is incapable of flying, but that bird which consumes, or the animal which consumes, the cocoon that surrounds it and then finally has the strength to fly itself, assumes that nature provides the sustenance and the food to feed the animal or the child or the being as it grows and matures. The Catch-22 has been that the gap between the need, the nourishment required for the survival of that child, and what is available grows all the time. If Council as the mother of that child had had sufficient milk, sufficient bread and sufficient food to allow the child to grow and also had been able to keep pace with the child's growth so it could say, 'Now go out and fly' it might have happened. But sadly, and I come back to the principle of survival, Council has never had enough to give an artistic director or a company or a group enough for them to go and fly. Then if they fell like Icarus, if their wings were burned by the sun, one could say, nevertheless, that they had had every opportunity to try to do it. Because Council has never been able to do that, it has been impossible to sever that umbilical cord of nourishment, and the umbilical cord is a pipeline for nourishment anyway. That's why they've never been able to get away. But I think Council tries constantly to separate, to get them to grow up, to get them to move. But without the food they can't, they'll starve. We keep the companies alive by the saline drip, which is just enough to keep them alive. Not too little so that they will die, not enough so they can get up and get off their sick beds and walk.

DAVID GARDNER: Only once did I have an experience that startled me. Paul Thompson, Theatre Passe Muraille, said to me one day, 'David, don't let our company grow too fast!' and that was the only time I ever heard it in my tenure there.

WALTER LEARNING: He changed his tune.

DAVID GARDNER: I'm sure he changed his tune.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Anyone else on the panel want to comment? Do we have another comment or question?

QUESTION: Has anyone here had any part in the Canada Council Explorations grants?

DAVID PEACOCK: I'm sorry I'm monopolizing, but basically there is consultation not necessarily agreement. The function of the Explorations Program is not the same, either the function or the mandate, is not the saine as that of the disciplines. That is one of the reasons why it exists. It's to allow for new initiatives not necessarily professional. Some of them have survived and have moved into The Council program. There is a myth that a grant from Explorations is a guaranteed passport into Council's program. It is not true. Nevertheless, many worthwhile programs both in form as well as specific companies owe their birth to a grant from the regional juries of the Explorations Program.

QUESTION: C'est assez pénible parfois d'avoir à être sévère vis-à-vis des niveaux institutionnels pour permettre à d'autres d'avoir la chance de grandir. Je pense en tout cas que vous avez pris de bonnes décisions concernant cela. En espérant, par ailleurs, qu'il n'y a pas eu d'influence politique derrière vos décisions, parce que j'imagine qu'il peut y avoir certaines influences politiques. Là où je pense qu'il y a un trou, c'est entre le Conseil des Arts et le Conseil de recherches concernant le théatre universitaire, faisant abstraction des personnes en place. Dans certains cas, ce n'est pas très agréable. Une chose est certaine, c'est que dans une université comme l'Université du Québec, par exemple, la Commission des études a établi qu'un créateur puisse faire admettre que sa création en peinture, en sculpture et en théâtre est équivalente à une recherche scientifique. Et, en conséquence, si le créateur demande un congé sabbatique, il peut très bien essayer d'obtenir une bourse pour une création dramatique ou une création en peinture. Or, au Conseil de recherches on dit non. On dit: 'C'est de la création. Allez au Conseil des Arts.' Et au Conseil des Arts, on dit: 'il y a pas de programme à ce niveau-là. Donc, allez au Conseil de recherches.' Si bien que cette tentative dans le milieu universitaire de valoriser la création et la recherche n'aboutit nulle part, parce que les structures la refusent de part et d'autre. Comme ici, je pense qu'il y a certains universitaires intéressés par le théâtre, il me semble que ce serait le temps, au moins de songer à former un groupe de réflexion sur ce que c'est que la recherche en théâtre, dans quelle mesure des universitaires peuvent être valorisés en faisant des recherches en théâtre joué et quelles instances, ou quelle jonction entre ces deux instances, pourraient permettre à une création universitaire de fonctionner.

CLAUDE DES LANDES: J'allais poser une question. Quand vous parlez de faire une recherche, de créer, enfin pas juste de créer sur papier mais de créer, est-ce que vous parlez des universités, de recherches, de travail avec des artistes qui sont déjà dans la pratique, dans le métier ou enfin qui sont scénographes, etc.?

QUESTION: Prenons un exemple qui n'est pas controversé. Pol Pelletier enseigne chez nous. Rien n'empêche qu'elle fasse comme recherche universitaire une création au Théâtre expérimental des femmes, et il y a rien qui pourrait l'empêcher de demander une subvention à l'occasion d'une éventuelle année sabbatique pour faire une création. je connais un cas où ça a été refusé.

CLAUDE DES LANDES: Attention, il y a peut être deux choses là. Vous citez un cas. Pol Pelletier est une comédienne de théâtre, directrice de théâtre professionnel, qui a des années de pratique derrière elle. Donc elle est éligible au Conseil des Arts, au Service des bourses. Et même en plus, je ne sais pas si ça continue au Service du théâtre, une expérience pilote a été créée depuis une saison déjà. Maintenant, il est possible d'obtenir une bourse collective, justement pour permettre un tel type de recherche. Là, il peut arriver, si ce n'était que des universitaires qui soient refusés, d'accord. Vous dites: 'Quel que soit le nombre'. Disons qu'il y a cinq personnes, et vous avez trois ou deux comédiens, un scénographe qui travaillent déjà dans le milieu et qui font appel à quelqu'un de l'université qui a poursuivi une recherche très précise, et qui pourrait apporter quelque chose aux praticiens. Encore une fois, il n'y a rien qui empêche de demander une bourse collective au Service des bourses du Conseil des Arts du Canada. Ca dépend de l'orientation, et c'est très difficile à démarquer. Mais je dis que c'est possible. C'est encouragé et c'est possible.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: I'm sorry we do have another show coming in here, so I guess we'd better ask panelists to give us their last word for the moment. If there is simply a burning question, you could even interrupt or come in between. I think we're going to start with David Peacock.

DAVID PEACOCK' I'll read you something which I wrote in December 1975 and sadly it is still true.

'With the prospect of restrictive funding, it's sure that the survivors will be those who succeed in supplementing from other sources the funds which they would normally have hoped to receive from Council. The tendency the further away from Council funding you get is for the people to look for security of structure, institution and formalization, so the taking of creative risks will need to be minimized for the sake of financial survival. In increasing numbers, many of the creators as a result are turning to other media. The less creative the director of a company and the more he is selected for his strength and administration, so the more firmly entrenched will the institutionalization of theatre become, again at the detriment of creativity. Council owes its prestige and its existence to its support of the creators and its support of the artists in the first place.'

And I said then and it's still valid, Council should be prepared to fund perhaps five groups including both languages on a year's basis, experienced theatre people who are prepared to commit a full year to investigate the process and forms of theatre without the need to find revenues, form boards or equate success with popularity. Each of these groups will probably cost in the area of a hundred thousand, of which sixty could come from Council and forty from other organizations. If that funding (which is not cost effective, which is not revenue-generating, which is not justifiable in terms of the Auditor General) doesn't happen, not only will theatre die, but Council will die too.

And the second thing I wrote and it still applies: 'Standards represent goals rather than achievement and in that context, yes, the principal of excellence must always be maintained and the companies continue to aim for the achievement of excellence in absolute terms. But when companies cease to struggle for this crock of gold and settle for consistent mediocrity without progress, the Council must be prepared, whatever the political cost may be, to withdraw its support.'

That is my two pennies worth.

CLAUDE DES LANDES: C'est tellement bien dit que je ne dis pas que j'avais la même idée, mais que c'est à peu près ça. Moi aussi, j'espère que le Conseil des Arts va s'attarder davantage et davantage à la création plutôt que simplement aux choses établies. Je ne dis pas que les choses établies ne méritent pas respect et argent, mais je crois que le rôle du Conseil des Arts est justement de promouvoir la création, la recherche, de trouver de nouvelles formules. On parlait de compagnie, par exemple, de Paul Thompson qui disait: 'Je ne veux pas avoir trop d'argent, suffisarnment pour travailler, pour créer oui, mais pas encore une fois pour payer de la brique et du chauffage.' Et je crois que cette façon de voir les choses est dangereuse. Bon, c'est d'accord que dans un pays comme le Canada, on dise que chaque grande ville doive avoir son théâtre, son opéra, etc. Mais ça se fait trop facilement pour des raisons politiques dans lesquelles le Conseil a dû verser souvent. Je sais que ce n'est pas une décision facile à prendre, mais je crois que le Conseil, les membres du Conseil d'administration du Conseil, les fameux vingt-et-un, devraient s'attarder davantager là-dessus, ou se pencher sur la question à partir des gens de la Commission consultative, et peut-être les écouter davantage. Je ne said plus combien de milliers d'artistes de métier reconnus au Canada, reconnus internationalement, répondent aux attaques, car c'est vraiment des attaques, des gens qui ne travaillent que pour la politique, que pour se faire élire et pour la rentabilité finalement. Alors, j'espère que le Conseil va se diriger dans cette direction.

DAVID GARDNER: Basically I don't see the need for subsidy going away. The theatre and the performing arts have now become the eleventh (I think) largest manufacturing industry in this country. It is indeed a real energy resource and it will need to be subsidized as much as any tar sands project and you must remember that the subsidization of the theatre is also the subsidization of the theatre ticket for the general public as well. The cost of the theatre everywhere would be the Royal Alexandra figures. Every theatre ticket would be $ 25. etc, instead of the six, seven, eight, nine dollars that they are, bad enough as it is. So I see subsidy staying.

I think however, the Council always has to work towards greater flexibility. I feel that the future of the subscription season may be in jeopardy - the idea of the neat and tidy season of five or six plays, etc. Already we begin to have longer runs and irregular length runs and you need to be able to take a failure out quickly if possible. We need to find, as Walter was beginning to do in his regime, ways to cope with independent productions and that's for me a marvelous thing. From the point of view of a Theatre History Association, someday it would be marvelous as well to think that we could gather our resources together into a national theatre archives, a national theatre museum or a series of regional equivalents. But that's one of those nice pipe dreams. If it's the future, we must be allowed the privilege of dreaming.

JEAN ROBERTS: Over the years I've come to ask myself if it is really necessary that we should be a great theatre country. Indeed, I suspect that perhaps we aren't, and I suspect that perhaps we're trying to proliferate things that needn't really be proliferated. After all, it would be perfectly fine if we were a great country for the visual arts and a great country for music, a great country for opera and a great country for dance and that theatre was not necessarily one of the jewels in our crowns. And I would just simply hope that the Canada Council would think that quality in all the areas where it can inspire quality is still something that they would be dealing with.

WALTER LEARNING: Certainly, in my memory, from the beginning of my dealings with the Canada Council, one of the characteristics that defined the Council for me was its fundamental humanity and its flexibility. That was borne out in my days with Jean Roberts who was the first person I dealt with there and then through David Gardner and David Peacock. And I think that while it has grown in terms of the numbers of people involved in the process, I think it has managed to maintain in the face of some substantial opposition and circumstances, I think it has managed to maintain, that basic humanity and flexibility, and I would hope that in the future that, in terms of what's going to come, it will always retain that humanity and that flexibility.

WILLIAM KILBOURN: Good last word from all of you. On behalf of everyone here, mesdames, messieurs, je voudrais vous remercier, the members of our panel, and the society and the theatre for having made this possible and you for being patient and a good audience. It was a marvelous experience. I think we have contributed, or at least our panelists have contributed, in a substantial way to changing theatre history by getting some of these reminiscences on tape and in your memories. Thank you very much, all of you.