Saturday, July 25, 2009

Re: ITI and GNWT's NWT Arts release form and artists rights in the NWT

Mario Villeneuve
National President
Canadian Artists Representation / le Front des artistes canadiennes
P.O.Box 31256
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 5P7


Thanks for your interest in this issue here in the NWT.... as a long time member of Canadian Artists Representation / le Front des artistes canadiennes and the Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective, this issue, the lack of payments to artists by the Government of the Northwest Territories for their exhibition rights and the lack of education for artists on all of their artistic rights is of great concern to me, especially as the government's Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is mandated to assist our artists in the development of the arts sector in the territory

"... Building on partnerships, our vision is to foster a diversified economy that provides all communities and regions of the NWT with opportunities and choices.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is working to meet this vision by: promoting development that reduces regional and community disparities; working with regional business corporations and other partners to identify new economic opportunities; Advancing alternative energy initiatives and supporting the development of sustainable local economies through small businesses and community-based sectors such as tourism, agriculture, arts and crafts, and the traditional economy. ..."

"... A valued reflection of the culture and history of the NWT's Aboriginal people, the production of traditional arts and fine crafts is also an important element of the Northwest Territories' economy.

This vibrant cottage industry is one of the key areas in which the Government of the Northwest Territories is working to promote economic activity in smaller communities and to expand and diversify sectors like tourism and the traditional economy.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment supports the arts and crafts industry with a variety of programs and services developed and guided by the NWT Arts Strategy. Read more... ..."

A little background....

About four years ago, when I lived in Fort Smith NWT, The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) held its first (I believe) public workshop concerning its NWT Artists Database and during that workshop it became clear that they required a release for any images images an artist would contribute to their own entry in the database that would release it, automatically, for any use by any sector of the territorial government.  See the text of the release here

The lady presenting this workshop was / is Carla Wallis Manager, Arts & Fine Crafts... (867) 920-6130 who also is listed as serving as NWT Film Commissioner  (867) 920-8793 in the governments phone directory at

When I queried this provision of the release, pointing out that would automatically remove any potential for licensing (and realizing income from) these submitted images to any NWT government department (especially the tourism campaigns run by their department) I was told that their lawyer had told them that this was the only way that they could do this and if I had a problem with it I should talk to their lawyer...  I did do this and the lawyer simply said... in effect, that I did not know what I was talking about, and as a lawyer, this person knew more than I did and I had the choice of not participating... but the release could not change because it represented the requirements of the law.

I suggested to the group that they should go to the CARFAC and Copyright Collective websites to learn about their rights as artists.

About a year ago, here in Yellowknife, Ms Wallis gave a very similar presentation and the same release form with the same conditions attached was included in the package of information and I brought up the same question concerning the apparent rights grab by the territorial government... this time there were several other artists in the audience who were also equally concerned with the "license" and the potential loss of revenue to the submitting artists.... The reception our queries received was as frigid as an Arctic night in February and we were once again told the same platitudes expressed to me in Fort Smith.... One individual was even motivated to bring it to the attention of CARFAC as I had also done..

This brings me to the most recent ITI presentation at the Great Northern Arts Festival...
Well... four years later... same old same old... no change... still the same rights and income grab from a government department that is supposed to be helping artists with the same defensive attitudes of the department's position.

Any help you and CARFAC can offer to the artists of the Northwest Territories to protect their rights and incomes against what seems to me as a rip-off, would, I'm certain, be welcome by the artists... and any understanding / implementation of policies recognizing / protecting these rights you and CARFAC might be able to help ITI and the GNWT with would, I'm also certain, be greatly appreciated by the artists and their heirs.

FYI .... I am CCing this to INDUSTRY, TOURISM & INVESTMENT's Ms Wallis and

ITI Minister......................Bob McLeod................ (867) 669-2388
ITI Deputy Minister...............Peter Vician............ (867) 920-8048
and the MLAs of the NWT.

I am also releasing this e-mail to the NWT media and Artists organizations.... four years is too long for this issue to have remained hidden and for NWT artists to have been treated in this deplorable way by their government.

Yours truly,

Information, Communications and Media Specialist
451 Norseman Dr.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
X1A 2J1, Canada

Yellowknife Land Line # (867) 873-2662
Yellowknife Cell # (867) 445-9193
SKYPE: themediamentor

Canadian Association of Journalists
Canadian Artists Representation / le Front des artistes canadiennes
Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective

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2009/7/21 YT CARFAC <>
Thanks (...),
I will look into this, it is a bit of a broad request of rights. An other case of people just put legal jargon on a for without knowing what it means. I will get in touch with George via e-mail tonight, to see what we can do.
Thanks again for the head-up.


C/O Yukon Representative
National President
Mario Villeneuve
P.O.Box 31256
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 5P7

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