The 42nd annual conference of the Organization of Canadian Symphony Musicians (OCSM) was held August 14-18 at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in Gatineau, Québec. The National Arts Centre Orchestra and Local 180 (Ottawa-Gatineau) hosted the conference.
As at OCSM’s 2016 conference, many of our discussions this summer focused on advocacy. Political and arts journalist Paul Wells offered a reporter’s perspective on trends in media, advocacy, and public relations affecting orchestras. He described priorities and buzzwords capturing the attention of the current federal government (digital, reconciliation, diversity); pointed to eternal advantages orchestras hold (deep roots in communities, a strong network of students and allies); and spoke to the importance of clear, informative website content.
From Funding to Diversity
Department of Canadian Heritage Arts Policy Branch Director Lise Laneville gave an overview of her agency’s work and its relationship to other federal funders, such as the Canada Council for the Arts. She outlined and led discussion of funding programs most relevant to orchestras, including the Arts Presentation, Cultural Spaces, and Canada Cultural Investment Funds.
Orchestras Canada Executive Director Katherine Carleton and consultant Parmela Attariwala introduced the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Declaration, a manifesto developed by a task force of Canadian orchestra managers. The document is intended as a framework to shape, monitor, and report on organizational efforts in these areas. OCSM delegates unanimously endorsed the IDEA Manifesto through a resolution.
Taking a lesson from the International Conference of Symphony and Orchestra Musician (ICSOM) and the Regional Orchestra Players Association (ROPA), OCSM’s Advocacy Committee launched a campaign highlighting our orchestras on social media. Each of our 21 orchestras will be featured for a week during the 2017-2018 season. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to meet our members this year!
Health and Safety
The 2017 OCSM Conference also focused on physical and mental health, safety in the workplace, and optimal performance. Lisa Chisholm, a musician and performance psychologist, gave an engaging presentation about performance anxiety. She offered many useful “hacks” of natural body response systems, corrected common misconceptions, and suggested ways to personalize a strategy for optimal performance, based on one’s own tendencies and preferences. Delegates enjoyed a screening of the documentary feature about performance anxiety, Composed, with filmmaker John Beder in attendance and leading a discussion after the film.
OCSM Publications Editor Barbara Hankins of Local 226 (Kitchener, ON) shared recent presentations and research on how orchestra managers might better address mental health issues in the workplace using the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Delegates unanimously supported a resolution on mental health, encouraging orchestra managers to familiarize themselves with the standard and work toward its implementation. OCSM Counsel Michael Wright and AFM Symphonic Services Division (SSD) Director Rochelle Skolnick led a discussion around workplace harassment and bullying, focusing on the rights and obligations of orchestra committees, the union, and managers in these difficult situations.
Presentations by AFM International President Ray Hair and Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert both focused on media issues. Negotiations with Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, were recently concluded. Ratification materials will be sent out this fall. Agreement was also reached on experimental new remote rates for projects in Québec; there continues to be very little interest in recording orchestras outside of the province. Negotiations for a new Canadian Symphonic Media Agreement are ongoing. The OCSM Media Committee also revised its streaming guidelines, which have been used by several Canadian orchestras; the guidelines promulgate rates and conditions for streaming video and/or audio of live concerts only. Many thanks to SSD Canada Director Bernard LeBlanc, Assistant Director Steve Mosher, and the OCSM Media Committee for all of their work this year.
Reports and Elections
Reports were accepted from the conference Location, Finance, Editorial & By-laws, Advocacy, and Nominations committees. The following OCSM officers were re-elected by acclamation: President Robert Fraser of Local 247 (Victoria, BC); 2nd Vice President Brian Baty of Local 149 (Toronto, ON); and Treasurer Elizabeth Johnston of Local 149 (Toronto, ON). First Vice President Matthew Heller of Local 547 (Calgary, AB) and Secretary Faith Scholfield of Local 566 (Windsor, ON) will be serving the second year of two-year terms.