Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Heritage Canada called out for not using Canadian art on website

A lovely photo, but not one from a Canadian photographer. (Screengrab via Canadian Heritage)
 (Screengrab via Canadian Heritage)
Matthew Coutts | Daily Brew
Imagine a world where a website committed to promoting Canadian arts and culture was outsourcing the job to foreign professionals, and then open your eyes and log onto the Heritage Canada website.
The Ottawa Citizen’s Glen McGregor noted on Tuesday that the department’s website is filled with stock photography purchased from foreign artists and used to promote “Canada’s cultural industries.”
“A search of images appearing on the department’s site turned up numerous examples of pictures purchased online, without any apparent regard for using work created by Canadian photographers or artists,” he writes.
Here is a shortened list of some of the indiscretions noted in the article:
  • A German photograph of a cheering concert audience found on the Canada Music Fund site
  • A Russian photo of moviegoers watching a 3D film on the Film and Video site
  • A photo of a group of young, smiling white people posted to the Youth Exchanges site coming from an artist in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sure enough, MacGregor’s work checks out.
It becomes somewhat ironic to read the government’s film and video page when you know it is posted under a stock photograph bought from a Russian photographer: “The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring Canadian artistic expressions and cultural content….”
A Canadian Heritage spokesperson told the Citizen that they commission photographs from Canadian artists whenever possible, but there are some cases when they don’t have an appropriate image in their photobank.
In those cases, the department turns to – a once-Canadian online stock company owned by Getty Images for more than a decade.
So, fair enough. It’s somewhat embarrassing for a Canadian ministry committed to supporting local artists (like, say photographers) to be buying foreign alternatives on the cheap.
But can we really expect them to pay top dollar for intentionally-generic pictures just because they are Canadian?

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