A united message and a great success!

On Tuesday November 23rd museums representatives from across Canada were on Parliament Hill talking up the importance of museums to federal politicians.

Over 100 members of Parliament and senators heard the museums message on this special day. This was only our second Canadian Museums Day and there were more meetings with key cabinet ministers, MPs and senators than at our event last year.

More importantly was the depth of the discussions which were handled with enthusiasm by the dedicated museum people who came to Ottawa. Even the security guards on the Hill were impressed with the numbers of representatives from participating museums!

We deliberately came forward with only one key recommendation says John McAvity, the Canadian Museums Associationís executive director. Our proposal for a special matching donations program has traction and it offers to get more Canadians involved in our heritage. Our message fell upon open ears, even at this time of restraint.

In addition to meeting members of Parliament, key meetings were held with many cabinet members, including Hon Jim Flaherty, minister of finance; Hon James Moore, minister of heritage; Hon Keith Ashfield, minister of revenue; Hon Rob Moore, minister of tourism,; Hon Jim Nicholson, justice minister; Hon Steven Fletcher, democratic reform minister; among others.

We recognize that the next federal budget will be a very difficult one and there may be many cuts to valuable programs, however, we are proposing a solution to the government, a pragmatic means for the government to help us help ourselves by encouraging Canadians to become more involved in art and heritage. This is a win-win scenario and will have long-term impact on museumsî says McAvity.

Another issue that received much attention, especially with key cabinet ministers, is the Young Canada Works (YCW) program, which provides student employment and internship opportunities at museums and galleries across Canada. Quality jobs for youth employment are scarce and YCW has demonstrated an exceptional track record over the years.

Unfortunately, the CMA is forced to turn down 92% of the applications for specialized internships in museums. ìMuseums could supply valuable skills training in a variety of fields for youth, from intellectual skills to technological, exhibition management, marketing, fundraising and educational programmingî says John McAvity. ìIt is therefore important to invest in youth employment for the future of the cultural sector.

The museums message was delivered in a strong and united front by the three major national organizations responsible for Canadian Museums Day 2010. The event was organized by the Canadian Museums Association with the full participation of the Canadian Federation of Friends of Museums and the Canadian Art Museums Directors Organization as well as most provincial museum associations.

Download the Canadian Museums Day fact sheet

For pictures of the event, check out our Flickr gallery.

Click on the play button below to watch interviews with some of the participants