Monday, 29 December 2014

MUSEOLOGY AND CULTURAL THEORY: NB POLICY ORIGINS

THESIS COLUMN: SPECIAL ISSUE

BY: ROBIN NELSON

As some of you know, Nicole, Katie, and I did a reading course over the fall semester on Museology and Cultural Theory. The course covered a broad range of topics that we find interesting and we have each written a paper within our broader research interest for the final paper. As part of the course, we will have a colloquium on Wednesday, January 7th at 12pm, location to be announced. We would love some feedback, so please come! Over the next week we will each write a Musings posts to give you an idea about what we will discuss.

I like to think my research is interesting. Source.

The paper that I am presenting will contribute to chapter one of my thesis and serves as the foundation for my research. After tracing the development of cultural policy from 1967 to 2014 in New Brunswick and highlighting significant historical events, I discuss policy origins, discourses present over time, and the influence of individuals on policy development. As I will not have the time to present all of my ideas, my colloquium presentation will focus on the origins of cultural policy in New Brunswick and how the framework has continued to shape government action influencing museums. As part of our course we read Susan Ashley’s (2005) “State Authority and the Public Sphere,” which identifies the Canadian Centennial Celebrations (1967) and the release of the National Museums Policy (1972) as defining moments in the development of Canadian museums. My analysis similarly considers the Centennial and national policy, but also discusses the influence of the welfare state model of governance that was popular in the 1960s and promoted by the federal government. Further, I consider New Brunswick as having a distinct context, such as the election of its first Acadian Premier with social policy objectives. Within my discussion, I argue that policy origins reflect a “French” or “Architect” approach with certain limitations and this framework has continued to influence policy direction.

Now, I will answer a few questions from Costis, Nicole, and Katie:

Nicole: What are some of the core aspects of New Brunswick’s relation to the rest of Canadian national cultural policy?


A Robichaud memorial monument in Saint-Antoine, NB.

One of the major elements that distinguish cultural policy development in New Brunswick is bilingualism. Some scholars argue that the province has formed two distinct cultural policies: one valorizes what is traditionally called the arts, culture, and/or heritage and the other is a linguistic policy. These policies developed concurrently and in association with one another because Premier Louis J. Robichaud implemented the Equal Opportunity Program (EO) in the 1960s, which centralized services in order to provide equal access to all residents regardless of their language or location in the province. The centralization of services through the EO enabled the province to take advantage of federal programs, such as the National Museums Policy announced in 1972. I realize that I am not being very clear, but this link between language, the social reforms, and cultural policy takes time to elucidate. As such, this will be one of the main points I discuss in the colloquium!

Katie: You have previously mentioned that there are many small cultural institutions in New Brunswick. Is the “welfare state model of governance” still a significant influence on the province’s cultural policy? If so, how are these smaller cultural sites sustained?


The Fredericton Region Museum has a history of provincial support. I found a grant application stating they have received support since 1948. 

McGuigan’s definition of a state discourse defines the state as the key agent in cultural policy - that is, the welfare state model of governance seen after the Second World War. McGuigan (2004) argues that in the 1960s governments enacted educational and cultural public policies “in the name of ‘access’ to opportunities and pleasures that were previously denied to most people” (2004: 40). This discourse contributed to the foundation of cultural policy in New Brunswick and access continues to be a justification for programs funding museums. Guided by a dialogue of access, the Government established a system of operational funding that provides around sixty community museums with operational funding. However, the funding is not a lot and around 75% of the community museums and historical societies that receive grants through the Community Museum Assistance program receive less than $10,000. With less than $10,000 in operational funding, most of these museums do not have a full-time staff person. They are summer tourist offerings by necessity because that is the only time they can get money for staff (through the provincial Student Employment and Experience Development (SEED)). SEED is thus as critical, if not more so, than the operational funding to small museums in sustaining the museums. I actually discuss this program in the third chapter of my thesis, which I am trying to write now!

I look forward to answering any questions you may have! Source.

If you would like to hear more please ask some questions and/or come to our presentation on the 7th! Also, check back Wednesday to read what Katie will be presenting on!

No comments:

Post a Comment