Arts activities and charitable registration

Guidance

Reference number
CG-018

Issued
December 14, 2012

This guidance replaces Summary policy CSP-A08, Arts, and Summary policy CSP-A24, Artists.

For more information, watch our recorded webinar Arts activities and charitable registration.

Summary

Organizations that carry out arts activities may be eligible for charitable registration under the Income Tax Act if all their activities further charitable purposes.

Teaching or training artists, art students, or the public through sufficiently structured activities may further a charitable purpose under the second category of charitable purposes – the advancement of education.

Exhibiting, presenting, or performing artistic works are activities that may further a charitable purpose under the fourth category of charitable purposes – advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts.

Activities that enhance an art form and style within the arts industry for the benefit of the public may further a charitable purpose under the fourth category of charitable purposes – promoting the commerce or industry of the arts.

Activities that further the fourth category charitable purpose of advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts must satisfy two criteria: art form and style and artistic merit.

Art form and style: Art form means the field or medium in which an artist works, while style means the different disciplines or methods of expression within an art form. To meet the art form and style criterion, an organization must show a common or widespread acceptance of the form and style of art within the Canadian arts community.

Artistic merit: Artistic merit means the quality of an artistic exhibition, presentation, or performance. Once an organization has established common or widespread acceptance of an art form and style, it must be able to show that the quality of its exhibitions, presentations, or performances is sufficiently high to be considered charitable under common law.

Activities that further the fourth category charitable purpose of promoting the commerce or industry of the arts must satisfy the art form and style criterion and may need to satisfy the artistic merit criterion depending on the particular facts.

To be charitable, arts activities must be undertaken in a way that ensures that any resulting private benefit is incidental, meaning that it is necessary, reasonable, and not disproportionate to the public benefit that is delivered. If a private benefit is more than incidental, an organization can face sanctions or have its charitable registration revoked.

Appendix A provides a summary of the key characteristics of the main charitable purposes that can be furthered through the arts.

Appendix B gives examples of purposes that can be furthered through the arts.

Appendix C contains a list of art forms and styles that are commonly recognized in relation to fourth category purposes. These art forms and styles will usually be accepted as satisfying the art form and style criterion without more information. The artistic merit criterion may have to be satisfied, depending on the particular facts.

Table of contents


A. Introduction

1. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) registers charities under the Income Tax Act, and makes sure that registered charities continue to meet all the associated legal and administrative requirements for charitable registration.

2. In this guidance, unless otherwise stated, the terms:

“charity” and “registered charity” include all three types of registered charities as defined under the Income Tax Act: charitable organization, public foundations, and private foundations

“organization” includes applicants for registration as a charitable organization, a public foundation, or a private foundation, as well as registered charities

3. This guidance explains the CRA’s interpretation of the relevant common law (case law or court decisions) and legislation (the Income Tax Act). It sets out the criteria used to determine whether an organization is furthering a charitable purpose through arts activities and may be eligible for registration as a charity under the Act. Charitable registration is one option for arts organizations. For more information, go to Is registration right for you?

4. An organization must meet a number of general requirements to qualify for registration under the Act. For detailed information about registration requirements, go to Guidance CG-017, General requirements for charitable registration.

5. This guidance provides general information only. All decisions about specific organizations are made individually, applying the law to the facts of each case. The facts may come from information provided by the organization itself or from other information available to the CRA.

6. This guidance does not apply to national arts service organizations or organizations that use art as a means of achieving charitable purposes not discussed in this guidance, such as providing art therapy to relieve conditions associated with illness or disability. Those organizations will be assessed using criteria for the charitable purposes they want to further through arts programs or activities.

B. Rationale

7. Historically, the courts have held education in the arts (in the form of teaching or training, or in the form of improving the public’s appreciation of the arts by the direct exhibition, presentation, or performance of artistic works) to be a charitable purpose under the second category – advancement of education. 1 The CRA has traditionally considered the eligibility of arts organizations for registration under the second category.

8. In its 1999 decision in Vancouver Society of Immigrant & Visible Minority Women v Minister of National Revenue 2 (Vancouver Society), the Supreme Court of Canada set out certain requirements that potentially apply to all activities that further the advancement of education. These include the need for such activities to be in the form of structured programs that contain what has been described as a teaching or learning component:

“169. … the purpose of offering certain benefits to charitable organizations is to promote activities which are seen as being of special benefit to the community, or advancing a common good. In the case of education, the good advanced is knowledge or training. Thus, so long as information or training is provided in a structured manner and for a genuinely educational purpose – that is, to advance the knowledge or abilities of the recipients – and not solely to promote a particular point of view or political orientation, it may properly be viewed as falling within the advancement of education ...

171. That is not to say that education should be broadened beyond recognition, however. Even while advocating a more inclusive approach to education, the Ontario Law Reform Commission also cautioned against treating as educational those activities which, although they advance legitimate goods, do not include any actual teaching or learning component. … I would agree with that caution.” 3

9. Organizations that teach or train artists, art students, and the public will generally continue to be eligible for registration as advancing education under the second category of charity, as long as their activities are sufficiently structured.

10. Organizations that advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by exhibiting, presenting, or performing artistic works may have difficulty meeting the threshold criterion for advancing education as outlined in the Vancouver Society decision. However, advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts by exhibiting, presenting, or performing artistic works has been recognized by the courts as charitable under the fourth category (other purposes beneficial to the community in a way the law regards as charitable). 4

11. These guidelines, as they relate to advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts, are based on this approach.

C. Determining eligibility for charitable registration

Advancement of education (second category)

12. Teaching or training artists, art students, or the public through sufficiently structured activities may further a charitable purpose under the second category of charitable purposes – the advancement of education. To be sufficiently structured, an activity must have a teaching or learning component and involve a legitimate, targeted attempt to educate. The following statement from the Vancouver Society decision summarizes the direction of the court in this regard:

”…the threshold criterion for an educational activity must be some legitimate, targeted attempt at educating others, whether through formal or informal instruction, training, plans of self-study, or otherwise. Simply providing an opportunity for people to educate themselves, such as by making available materials with which this might be accomplished but need not be, is not enough. Neither is ‘educating’ people about a particular point of view in a manner that might more aptly be described as persuasion or indoctrination. On the other hand, formal or traditional classroom instruction should not be a prerequisite, either. The point to be emphasized is that, in appropriate circumstances, an informal workshop or seminar on a certain practical topic or skill can be just as informative and educational as a course of classroom instruction in a traditional academic subject. The law ought to accommodate any legitimate form of education.” 5

13. Examples of purposes that advance education are included in Appendix B.

14. Examples of activities that might further purposes that advance education include organizing and delivering workshops, seminars, and classroom training or instruction in an art form and style, or on a related topic such as marketing. Providing opportunities for students or young or emerging artists to exhibit, present, or perform their works or develop their crafts or skills before the public would be acceptable activities, as long as they are part of a broader educational program.

Other purposes beneficial to the community (fourth category)

Advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts

15. Exhibiting, presenting, or performing artistic works are activities that may further a charitable purpose under the fourth category of charitable purposes – advancing the public's appreciation of the arts. They may also be undertaken in connection with activities that advance education or promote the commerce or industry of the arts, but will not typically be considered to advance these purposes if undertaken alone.

16. Examples of purposes that advance the public’s appreciation of the arts are included in Appendix B.

17. Examples of activities that might further the advancement of the public’s appreciation of the arts include producing and/or presenting high-quality public dance performances, as well as curating and exhibiting high-quality public art exhibitions.

Promoting the commerce or industry of the arts

18. Activities that enhance an art form and style within the arts industry for the benefit of the public may further a charitable purpose under the fourth category of charitable purposes – promoting the commerce or industry of the arts. 6 The organization’s purposes and activities must focus on enhancing an arts industry as a whole for the benefit of the public, and not on advancing the interests of those engaged in that industry.

19. Enhancing an art form and style within the arts industry for the benefit of the public usually means striving for improvement and promoting excellence. Accordingly, acceptable purposes and activities typically involve preserving and promoting excellence and high standards.

20. Organizations promoting the commerce or industry of the arts often have difficulty meeting the public component of the public benefit test (the need to deliver a benefit to the public or a sufficient segment of the public) because they confer a more-than-incidental private benefit on persons, entities or organizations engaged in the particular industries or trades. 7 See Restrictions on private benefit in this guidance and go to Guidance CG-014, Community economic development activities and charitable registration for more details about private benefit issues that can arise when promoting commerce or industry.

21. Examples of purposes that promote the commerce and industry of the arts are included in Appendix B.

22. Examples of activities that might enhance an art form and style within the arts industry as a whole for the benefit of the public could include offering merit-based awards and prizes for theatre productions or offering workshop facilities and tools for public use. 8

The public benefit requirement

23. The public benefit requirement involves a two-part test – a benefit that is provided to the public or a sufficient section of the public. All registered charities must be able to show that their purposes, and the activities that further these purposes, deliver the necessary public benefit.

24. For more information about public benefit, go to Policy statement CPS-024, Guidelines for registering a charity: Meeting the public benefit test.

Benefit

25. Under common law, a charitable benefit must be recognizable and capable of being proved, and socially useful. To be recognizable and capable of being proved, a benefit must generally be tangible or objectively measurable. Benefits that are not tangible or objectively measurable must be shown to be valuable or approved by “the common understanding of enlightened opinion for the time being.” “The common understanding of enlightened opinion for the time being” may be proved through objective evidence of common or widespread acceptance by persons who are knowledgeable and informed about the particular subject or issue. To be socially useful, a benefit must have public value and a demonstrable impact on the public. 9

26. Purposes that advance education will often be considered to deliver a tangible charitable benefit. However, if it is not clear that a purpose actually advances education, or if the delivery of a benefit is not obvious or is challenged or disputed, 10  an organization must prove that a charitable benefit will result. 11

27. Benefits resulting from advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts will usually be considered intangible. Benefits resulting from promoting the commerce or industry of the arts may be tangible or intangible, depending on the individual facts. To meet the charitable benefit requirement:

  • an organization advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts must show that its exhibitions, presentations, or performances meet both the art form and style and artistic merit criteria detailed below
  • an organization promoting the commerce or industry of the arts must show that the arts industry being promoted meets the art form and style criterion, and may need to satisfy the artistic merit criterion depending on the particular facts. In all cases, the organization must show that the nature of the particular arts industry is such that its promotion results in a charitable benefit, and that its purpose and activities will enhance the identified art form and style within that arts industry as a whole, for the public benefit. 12 If an organization’s purposes and activities include exhibitions, presentations, or performances, it must also show that these exhibitions, presentations, or performances meet the artistic merit criterion

Art form and style criterion

28. Art form commonly refers to the field or medium in which an artist works. 13  In this guidance, art form refers to the broader categories of art such as literature, dance, visual arts, theatre, and music. Style means the different disciplines or methods of expression within an art form. For example, within the art form of dance, styles include ballet, modern, jazz, and tap, among others; musical styles include classical, choral, chamber, and jazz; and styles of literature include prose and poetry.

29. To meet the art form and style criterion, an organization must establish a common or widespread acceptance of both the form and style of art within the Canadian arts community. Organizations are expected to provide enough information to enable the CRA to assess each art form and style.

30. The art forms and styles that fall within Appendix C of this guidance will generally be presumed to have common and widespread acceptance within the Canadian arts community.

31. In all other cases, the necessary common or widespread acceptance can potentially be established through objective evidence. Organizations are responsible for providing enough evidence to enable the CRA to make this determination. Examples of the types of evidence that may be submitted to show common or widespread acceptance within the Canadian arts community include:

  • the art form and style is taught or studied at accredited Canadian institutions of higher learning such as colleges, universities, or comparable schools. Copies of course curricula and/or syllabi should be provided for review
  • the art form and style has been recognized by a national or provincial/territorial arts body in Canada, such as Canadian Heritage and its agencies, national or provincial/territorial arts centres, museums or galleries, or national or provincial/territorial arts councils. Recognition means that the art form and style has been funded or exhibited, presented, or performed. Supporting documentation of such recognition should be provided for review
  • the art form and style is recognized by established 14 Canadian academic arts journals or arts publications. Articles from these publications should be provided for consideration

32. Whether the evidence submitted establishes the necessary common or widespread acceptance within the Canadian arts community will be assessed in each case, taking into account the nature and type of evidence provided. For example, evidence that the art form and style is on permanent exhibit in the National Gallery of Canada may be more persuasive than evidence that the art form and style has at one time received a grant from a provincial/territorial arts body. In most cases, evidence from several sources will be more persuasive.

33. Organizations submitting supporting documents that are not in French or English should also provide a translation into one of these languages.

Artistic merit criterion

34. Artistic merit refers to the quality of the exhibitions, presentations, or performances. The concept of artistic merit as a criterion for organizations seeking charitable status originates in common law. 15  The standard of artistic merit in the charitable sense has been variously described by the courts as one of “high character,” and “of value to the public.” 16

35. Once it has been established that an art form and style is accepted within the Canadian arts community, the criterion of artistic merit must be met. An organization that advances the public’s appreciation of the arts or promotes the commerce or industry of the arts through exhibiting, presenting or performing artistic works must be able to show that its exhibitions, presentations, or performances are of sufficient quality to be considered to deliver a charitable benefit. 17

36. Depending on the art form and style, the artistic merit criterion may apply to different aspects of an exhibition, presentation, or performance. For example, for theatrical performances an organization must select or develop theatrical works that have artistic merit. In addition, those works must be presented in a way that meets the artistic merit criterion test. On the other hand, exhibits of artistic works such as paintings or photographs are generally only subject to the artistic merit criterion in relation to the works of art themselves.

37. Artistic merit can be a matter of taste and subject to differing opinions. For this reason, the CRA relies on what the courts have referred to as “an accepted canon of taste,” 18 assessed through objective evidence.

38. To show artistic merit, organizations are expected to provide or be able to provide:

a. a comprehensive description of the exhibition, presentation, or performance and how each will be exhibited, presented, or performed

b. objective evidence to show the required quality of each exhibition, presentation, or performance, unless a common or widespread acceptance of artistic merit clearly or obviously exists 19

39. The objective evidence needed to show the required quality will normally include:

a. documents showing that the selection of the artistic works and artists is, and will continue to be, controlled through open, unbiased adjudication, audition, or selection processes, which apply predetermined quality standards. These documents should consist of:

  • calls for auditions or similar selection processes (when applicable)
  • lists of the artists or works considered during the process (subject to privacy legislation)
  • the names and qualifications of decision-makers
  • the standards and procedures that will be applied in the process

b. two or more of the following: 20

  • materials from impartial sources, such as articles in established academic journals or arts publications, or professional arts reviews, about the art work(s) and/or artist(s)
  • reviews or critiques from mainstream media sources may also be submitted, as long as the qualifications of the reviewer or critic are established  21
  • submissions from independent persons qualified by relevant academic qualifications or work experience to speak authoritatively on the art work and/or artist. A short description of the qualification and experience of each person should accompany the submission
  • objective, verifiable, biographical information about the artists, with specific reference to training, previous performances, awards, and grants from federal, provincial, or territorial governments or other granting bodies
  • certification that the artists or the organization are members of related professional associations that have and apply related quality standards
  • information relating to the qualifications and experience of the creative team (production staff, writers, directors, curators, conservators, choreographers, or other persons) involved in the exhibitions, presentations, or performances
  • evidence that the art work or artist has been chosen as part of a curated exhibition, presentation, or performance  22

40. When applying for registration, organizations may not be able to provide specific information about future exhibitions, presentations, or performances. In these cases, they will be expected to show that they have appropriate systems or standards in place to make sure that the artistic merit criterion is met and maintained. If there is no formal selection process, the qualifications and experience of those in positions to select or develop the artistic works, or artists must be established.

41. Once registered, all organizations that advance the public’s appreciation of the arts or promote the commerce or industry of the arts through exhibiting, presenting or performing artistic works must be able to show continuing compliance with the artistic merit criterion set out above.

42. The sufficiency of the evidence of artistic merit, including the adequacy of systems in place to make sure that there is artistic merit, will be assessed based on the facts of each case, taking into account the organization’s location, size, nature, and other relevant circumstances.

43. If artistic merit cannot be established through Canadian sources, evidence from international equivalents of the sources listed above will be considered.

44. Organizations submitting supporting documents that are not in French or English should also provide a translation into one of these languages.

Public – Restrictions on private benefit

45. The public benefit requirement prevents a charity from:

a. limiting its eligible beneficiaries based on criteria that are not justifiable based on the charitable purpose(s) at hand  23   

b. providing unacceptable private benefits

46. Part a. of the public benefit requirement means the eligible beneficiary group must be defined in a way that makes sure that the purpose delivers a benefit to the public as a whole or to a sufficient section of the public. If part a. is not met, the public benefit requirement will not be met. For more information, go to Policy statement CPS-024, Guidelines for registering a charity: Meeting the public benefit test.

47. Examples of organizations with purposes or activities that fail to deliver a public benefit because the group of eligible beneficiaries is unjustifiably limited could include those that:

  • exhibit, present, or perform artistic works for members of the public who are restricted based on a personal or private connection to one or more specified individuals or companies (such as presenting musical performances to employees of a particular company only)
  • offer scholarships or bursaries to individuals who are restricted based on criteria that are not relevant to achieving the organization’s charitable purpose (such as membership in a group unrelated to the need being served)

48. Part b. of the public benefit requirement means a charity cannot provide an unacceptable private benefit. 24 As a general rule, private benefit is a benefit or advantage (charitable or non-charitable) provided to a person, entity, or organization that is not a charitable beneficiary, or to a charitable beneficiary that goes beyond what is considered to be charitable. An acceptable private benefit is typically one that is incidental to achieving a charitable purpose. A private benefit will usually be incidental when it is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the resulting public benefit.

49. An unacceptable non-incidental private benefit can arise in two contexts that may overlap:

a. an organization’s purposes and activities may actually or potentially provide an unacceptable private benefit. Examples include:

  • organizations that promote the commerce and industry of the arts mainly by offering support services and advice to artists, significantly promoting the interests of individuals engaged in the industry
  • organizations with purposes or activities that are focused on promoting the careers of artists, rather than on advancing the public’s appreciation of art, resulting in an advantage to a non-charitable recipient

b. an organization’s operational or administrative practices may deliver a private benefit to its directors/trustees, members or staff, or to third parties. Examples of this type of unacceptable private benefit might include:

for an organization’s directors/trustees, members, or staff

  • paying salaries/remuneration that are more than fair market value
  • paying for services or products at rates that are more than fair market value
  • paying for expenses, or providing advantages, that are not necessary to perform required duties
  • subsidizing unnecessary or unrelated travel
  • using the services, materials, facilities, or businesses of directors/trustees, members, staff, or persons, entities, or organizations who do not deal at arm’s length with directors/trustees, members, or staff, without fair process or justification
  • permitting unjustified use of resources belonging to the organization
  • promoting materials (such as books, videos, or other media) in which the organization’s directors/trustees, members, or staff have an interest, beyond what is justifiably needed to achieve the organization’s charitable purposes

for third parties

  • single-sourcing services, facilities, supplies, or equipment without justification
  • using the services, materials, facilities, or businesses of limited persons or entities without justification
  • permitting the unjustified use of resources, property rights, or products belonging to, or developed or discovered by, the organization
  • promoting the work, art, talent, services, or businesses of persons or entities when it is not incidental to achieving the charitable purpose. For example, using the organization’s website to link to other websites to sell art work or to book performance engagements would provide a private benefit

50. Benefiting artists will not prevent charitable registration as long as:

a. the organization is not created and operated for that purpose, and the private benefit is acceptable, being incidental to achieving the organization’s charitable purpose. 25 For example, artists that are hired by organizations at fair market value to exhibit, present or perform works of art for the public will likely be considered to be receiving benefits that are incidental, meaning necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the resulting public benefit

b. the artists are eligible beneficiaries of a charitable program. For example, an organization constituted to relieve poverty may produce art shows to exhibit the works of poor artists, if the participating artists meet pre-established, legitimate criteria aimed at relieving poverty. Similarly, educational charities may provide their students with the opportunity to perform, or exhibit their artwork, in conjunction with a related course or training program

D. Use of intermediaries

51. In this guidance, an intermediary is a person, entity, or organization that is separate from a charity and its staff (including volunteers, directors, and employees), with which the charity works to carry out its own activities. The intermediary usually has resources that a charity needs, such as a skill, knowledge of a region, staff in the area, or specialized equipment.

52. An organization may use other organizations or independent artists/performers as intermediaries to carry out its own activities. Since a registered charity must maintain direction and control over its resources (including its funds), and over the activities undertaken with its resources, using intermediaries requires appropriately structured and documented arrangements.

53. Organizations that intend to carry on activities through intermediaries inside or outside Canada are encouraged to go to Guidance CG-002, Canadian registered charities carrying out activities outside Canada and Guidance CG-004, Using an intermediary to carry out a charity’s activities within Canada.

54. Examples of acceptable and non-acceptable use of intermediaries:

Acceptable

  • advancing education in the arts by hiring experienced performance artists on documented contracts for services to develop materials and present performance art workshops to the public
  • advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts by engaging in a properly documented joint venture with a not-for-profit theatre company to produce and present high-quality theatrical performances

Not acceptable

  • providing funds to performing artists or not-for-profit organizations that offer workshops to the public without proper arrangements in place to make sure there is ongoing direction and control
  • providing funds to a not-for-profit theatre company that produces and presents high-quality theatrical performances without a proper arrangement in place to make sure there is ongoing direction and control

E. Arts, culture, and charitable registration

55. An organization’s purposes and activities will be assessed based on the criteria outlined in this guidance if they focus on:

  • advancing education by teaching the art forms and styles of a particular culture
  • advancing the public’s appreciation of art forms and styles of a particular culture by providing public exhibitions, presentations, or performances

56. It should be noted that the courts have determined that promoting a particular culture, or promoting the cultural interests of an ethnic or national group, are not purposes that qualify as charitable under common law. 26

F. Arts councils

57. Generally, the mandate of an arts council is to encourage public participation in the arts, provide opportunities for the public to experience the arts, or raise the artistic standards within the arts community or industry.

58. Arts councils have many different approaches to achieving their mandates due to the diverse nature of communities across Canada. Eligibility for registration will depend on an organization’s purposes and activities. Arts councils must meet all requirements outlined in this guidance relating to:

  • advancing education (under the second category)
  • advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts or promoting the commerce or industry (under fourth category)

59. With respect to the public benefit requirement:

  • an arts council’s purposes and activities must clearly establish that it serves the interests of the broader community (such as all residents of a geographic area), as opposed to a narrow segment (such as its members, the area’s artistic community, or a specific group of artists)
  • an arts council working with the broader arts community is more likely to be eligible for registration than an arts council dominated by one or two arts groups, or simply confines its activities to helping local artists sell their works. For more information about the concerns of selling artwork, go to Policy statement CPS-019, What is a related business?

60. Arts councils can further their charitable purposes through various activities, such as:

  • exhibiting, presenting, or performing their own artistic works
  • providing educational programs to the public
  • gifting to qualified donees
  • funding artists or arts groups to exhibit, present, or perform artistic works

61. When funding artists or arts groups, the arts council must maintain direction and control over its resources (including its funds), and over the activities undertaken with its resources, as outlined in the Use of intermediaries section of this guidance.

G. Museums, art galleries, and performance venues

62. An organization constituted to provide a public amenity (such as a museum, gallery, or community performance facility) can qualify for registration under the fourth category – other purposes beneficial to the community in a way the law regards as charitable.

63. An organization can be constituted to simply provide a public amenity, or it can be constituted to provide and use a public amenity to further a separate charitable purpose of advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts. For example, an organization can provide a community theatre facility that it:

  • makes available for anyone in the community
  • uses to exhibit, present, or perform artistic works

The scope of activities that an organization can undertake depends on the purposes contained in its governing document.

64. If an organization conducts activities to further a purpose that advances the public’s appreciation of the arts, it must satisfy the requirements outlined in the public benefit requirement section of this guidance. This means the exhibitions, presentations, or performances must:

  • meet the art form and style and artistic merit criterion outlined
  • benefit the public or a sufficient section of the public, without providing a more-than-incidental private benefit. Providing more than incidental and indirect benefits to artists (for example, a gallery that only exhibits the artistic works of its members) would generally be viewed as providing unacceptable private benefits

Appendix A – Summary of the key characteristics of the main charitable purpose categories described in this guidance

Advancement of education

The focus of the organization’s purposes or activities is on developing or increasing the skills of artists through training courses, classes, workshops, or the like. Performance may be part of the training process but is not the primary means of training.

Specific requirements

Organizations must show sufficiently structured programs with a teaching or learning component. Simply providing an opportunity for people to educate themselves by making materials available would not be enough to qualify as advancement of education.

Advancing the public’s appreciation of the arts

The focus of the organization’s purposes or activities is on exhibiting, presenting, or performing artistic works for the public.

Specific requirements

Organizations must satisfy both art form and style and artistic merit criteria. Organizations are expected to use appropriate selection processes (such as applications and auditions). If organizations deliver private benefits that are more than incidental, they will not be registered.

Promoting the commerce or industry of the arts

The focus of the organization’s purposes or activities is on enhancing an arts industry as a whole for the public benefit by facilitating its exercise and preservation, or promoting greater efficiencies or higher standards.

Specific requirements

Organizations must show that the arts industry being promoted satisfies the art form and style criterion. In all cases, the organization must show that the nature of the particular arts industry is such that its promotion results in a charitable benefit, and that its purpose and activities will enhance the identified art form and style within that arts industry as a whole, for the public benefit. If an organization’s purposes and activities include exhibitions, presentations, or performances, the organization must also show that these exhibitions, presentations, or performances meet the artistic merit criterion. If organizations deliver private benefits that are more than incidental, they will not be registered.

Appendix B – Examples of purposes

The CRA evaluates applications to determine whether organizations meet all requirements for registration. Applicants should only include purposes that they intend to further. For registration, a detailed description of proposed activities is required.

Purposes that advance education (second category)

  • to advance education in the field of visual arts by:
    • establishing and operating a school for full-time arts students, focusing on painting, sculpture, drawing, and other forms of visual arts
    • offering visual arts classes to the general public on a part-time or general-interest basis
    • organizing and operating a year-end showcase for graduates of the school programs
    • providing courses, instructional seminars, and workshops to teach marketing, financing, and bookkeeping to visual artists.To advance education by providing instructional seminars on topics related to performance and visual arts to members of the public
  • to advance education by establishing and operating public art schools
  • to advance education by providing structured learning activities such as courses, instructional seminars, and workshops about [specify the art form and style], and by providing opportunities for students to publicly exhibit, present, or perform their works, or develop their crafts or skills in conjunction with these learning activities
  • to advance education by providing scholarships, bursaries, awards, and other forms of financial assistance to enable members of the public to study performance arts at post-secondary educational institutions in Canada
  • to advance education by establishing and operating a resource library for [specify the art form and style]
  • to advance education by conducting research on best practices related to the [specify art form and style] industry and disseminating the results of the research to the public
  • to advance education by providing courses, instructional seminars, and workshops to teach marketing, financing, and bookkeeping to artists

Purposes that advance the public’s appreciation of the arts (fourth category)

  • to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by:
    • providing high-quality public performances of classical choral works
    • providing free performances for audiences that may not be able to attend regular performances
  • to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by producing public art exhibitions, presentations, and performance art(s) events, and by providing a forum for qualified artists to exhibit, present, or perform their artistic works through participation in such events
  • to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by providing a public arts centre for the exhibition or presentation of visual arts productions or installations
  • to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by curating exhibitions and managing a public gallery for the display of [specify art form and style]

Purposes that promote the commerce or industry of the arts (fourth category)

  • to promote excellence in the dance industry in Canada by:
    • organizing and operating an annual dance competition with merit-based prizes and awards in the categories of ballet, contemporary, jazz, and tap
    • awarding an annual prize in each province and territory for the best dance-based production
  • to promote excellence in the [specify art form and style] industry in Canada by conducting research on best practices related to the [specify art form and style] and disseminating the results of the research to the public
  • to promote excellence in the [specify art form and style] industry in Canada by establishing and maintaining best practices and standards of workmanship and design through the development and institution of an apprenticeship program
  • to preserve and promote the development of, and excellence in, the [specify art form and style] industry in Canada by providing facilities to enable artists to train and produce their crafts, where such facilities are otherwise difficult to access, or not available  27
  • to preserve and promote the practice of the [specify art form and style] industry in [specify community if applicable], and maintain high standards in that industry, by:
    • collecting and exhibiting to the public examples of high-quality works
    • making available to artists the specialized tools or facilities needed to practice their craft  28
  • to increase public knowledge and interest, and showcase new advances, in the [specify art form and style] industry by collecting and exhibiting to the public examples of high-quality works
  • to promote the practice of the [specify art form and style] industry and maintain high standards in that industry, by developing or providing funds for training programs

Appendix C – Art forms and styles

This list represents the art forms and styles that the CRA has consistently recognized to meet the art form and style criterion. For that reason, the art forms and styles on the list will usually be accepted as satisfying the art form and style criterion without requiring the submission of more information. The artistic merit criterion may have to be satisfied, depending on the particular facts.

Interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary art forms and styles that are combinations of the forms and styles listed below will also be recognized as meeting the art form and style criterion without the need for more evidence.

Art forms or styles not on this list may also meet the art form and style criterion. Eligibility will be assessed based on evidence provided as outlined in the Art form and style criterion section of this guidance.

The CRA has recognized other art forms and styles that are culture-specific. As these art forms and styles are consistently shown to meet the art form and style criterion, they may be added to the list through periodic updates.

Music

  • classical
  • chamber music
  • Gospel
  • jazz
  • blues
  • opera
  • First Nations/Aboriginal/Inuit/Métis (Traditional and contemporary)
  • orchestral
  • band (brass, woodwind, marching, military, concert)
  • choral

Theatre or performing arts

  • drama
  • children’s or youth theatre
  • musical theatre
  • classical work
  • adaptations of classics
  • comedy theatre
  • storytelling and spoken-word performances
  • puppetry
  • circus arts

Visual arts

  • photography
  • drawing and illustration
  • painting
  • sculpture
  • printmaking
  • installation

Literature

  • novels
  • short stories
  • poetry
  • children’s literature
  • playwriting

Dance

  • ballet
  • classical
  • contemporary
  • neoclassical
  • contemporary
  • First Nations/Aboriginal/Inuit/Métis
  • traditional and contemporary
  • powwow
  • jazz
  • modern
  • tap

Media arts

  • film/video
  • animation
  • screenwriting (screenplays)

Crafts

  • tapestry
  • jewellery making
  • book binding and book artists
  • textile art
  • beadwork
  • ceramics
  • fibre arts
  • furniture
  • glass
  • metal
  • wood

Footnotes

Footnote 1

See, for example, Royal Choral Society v Inland Revenue Commissioner, [1943] 2 All E.R. 101, [1943] 25 T.C. 263 (Royal Choral Society); Shaw’s Will Trusts, Re, [1952] Ch.163, [1952] 1 All E.R. 49; In re Shakespeare Memorial Trust, Lytton (Earl) v Attorney General, [1923] 2 Ch 389 (In re Shakespeare Memorial Trust).

Footnote 2

[1999] 1 S.C.R. 10 (Vancouver Society)

Footnote 3

Vancouver Society, supra Footnote 2 at paras. 169 and 171 per Iacobucci J. for the majority. See also Gonthier J. (dissenting) at para. 78

Footnote 4

With respect to organizations that advance the public’s appreciation of the arts, see, for example, In re Shakespeare Memorial Trust, supra Footnote 1 at p. 402, Royal Choral Society, supra Footnote 1 at p. 273; and Re Litchfield, [1961] A.L.R. 750 at p.754 (S.C. of Northern Territory of Australia). With respect to organizations that promote the industry or trade of the arts, see, for example, Crystal Palace Trustees v Minister of Town and Country Planning, [1950] 2 All E.R. 857 (Crystal Palace); Commissioners of Inland Revenue v White and Others (re The Clerkenwell Green Association for Craftsmen), [1908] T.R. 155 (Ch.D.), per Fox J. at p. 160 (IRC v White); Inland Revenue Comrs v Yorkshire Agricultural Society, [1928] 1 K.B. 611, 97 L.J.K.B. 100, 138 L.T. 192, 13 Tax Case 58 Digest Supp. (Yorkshire Agricultural Society); Construction Industry Training Board v Attorney General, [1971] W.L.R. 1303 (Ch.D.) (Construction Industry Training Board).

Footnote 5

Vancouver Society, supra Footnote 2 at para. 171 per Iacobucci J.

Footnote 6

See, for example, Crystal Palace, supra Footnote 4; IRC v White, supra Footnote 4; Yorkshire Agricultural Society, supra Footnote 4 ; Whitehall and Industry Group Trust, [1990] Ch Com Rep 8 at para. 40

Footnote 7

See, for example, Inland Revenue Commissioners v Oldham Training and Enterprise Council, [1996] S.T.C. 1218, [1996] B.T.C. 539, 69 T.C. 231 (Ch.D.) where the court determined that the benefits to the public conferred by the activities to be undertaken to further the stated purpose of promoting trade, commerce, or enterprise were too remote given the intervening direct private benefit to delivered to individuals engaged in the trade, commerce, or enterprise.

Footnote 8

See, for example, IRC v White, supra Footnote 4; Crystal Palace, supra Footnote 4; Yorkshire Agricultural Society, supra Footnote 4; and Construction Industry Training Board, supra Footnote 4.

Footnote 9

See, for example, National Antivivisection Society v Inland Revenue Commissioners, [1948] A.C. 31 per Lord Wright at p. 49: “The law may well say that quite apart from any question of balancing values, an assumed prospect, or possibility of gain so vague, intangible and remote cannot justly be treated as a benefit to humanity, and that the appellant cannot get into the class of charities at all unless it can establish that benefit.”; In re Shaw decd, [1957] 1 WLR 729; Gilmour v Coats et al,[1949] A.C. 426 (HL) per Lord Simonds at pp. 446-447; McGovern v AG, [1981] 3 All ER 493; Re Hummeltenberg, Beatty v London Spiritualistic Alliance, [1923] All ER Rep at p. 51, [1923] 1 Ch 237 per Lord Russell of Killowen (then Russell J.) at p. 242 (Re Hummeltenberg); Re Pinion (deceased); Westminster Bank v Pinion and another, [1965] Ch 85, [1964] 1 All ER 890 (Re Pinion); In re Grove-Grady, Plowden v Lawrence, [1929] 1 Ch 557; In re Price, Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company, Limited v Harwood, [1943] Ch 422

Footnote 10

Re Pinion (deceased); Westminster Bank v Pinion and another, [1965] Ch 85, [1964] 1 All ER 890 per Harmon LJ at pp.893-894.; Re Hummeltenberg, Beatty v London Spiritualistic Alliance, [1923] All ER Rep at p. 51 [1923] 1 Ch at p. 237 per Lord Russell of Killowen, then Russell J: "To be valid a charitable bequest must be for the public benefit, and the trust must be capable of being administered and controlled by the court. The opinion of the donor of a gift or the creator of a trust that the gift or trust is for the public benefit does not make it so, the matter is one to be determined by the court on the evidence before it." And at [1923] 1 Ch at p. 242: "It was contended that the court was not the tribunal to determine whether a gift or trust was or was not a gift or a trust for the benefit of the public. …If a testator by stating or indicating his view that a trust is beneficial to the public can establish that fact beyond question, trusts might be established in perpetuity for the promotion of all kinds of fantastic (though not unlawful) objects, of which the training of poodles to dance might be a mild example. In my opinion the question whether a gift is or may be operative for the public benefit is a question to be answered by the court by forming an opinion upon the evidence before it." See also Re Shaw's Will Trusts, National Provincial Bank Ltd [1952] 1 All ER 49 at 54; Independent School Council, supra note X at para. 81

Footnote 11

Although the delivery of a socially useful benefit must be shown, the art form and style and artistic merit criteria need not be satisfied to prove public benefit under an advancement of education purpose.

Footnote 12

See IRC v White, supra Footnote 4 at p. 158, p. 160 and p. 161 per Fox J., who noted the nature of the crafts in issue prior to determining their promotion as an industry to deliver the necessary public benefit under the fourth category: “The crafts concerned – and indeed, a very wide variety of other modern crafts – are certainly of value to the public. One cannot doubt that their extinction or the erosion of their standards would be a public loss.” (p. 161); and Construction Industry Training Board, supra Footnote 4.

Footnote 13

The Canada Council for the Arts: Glossary of Canada Council Terms

Footnote 14

For a journal or publication to be considered established: a) a production history of at least one year is necessary; and, b) the contributors and editors must have a relevant background in the arts (educational or professional experience). A short description of the qualification or experience of the contributors and editors should accompany the documents submitted.

Footnote 15

See, for example, In re Pinion, [1965] 1 Ch 85

Footnote 16

See, for example, In re Shakespeare Memorial Trust, supra Footnote 1 at p. 402, which refers to the production of plays of a “high character” as being charitable under the fourth category; Royal Choral Society, supra Footnote 1 at p. 272 and pp. 273–274, which emphasized the nature of the works in question: “In the case of artistic taste, one of the best ways of training it is by presenting works of high class, and gradually training people to like them in preference to works of an inferior class.” (p. 273); “If the people who are providing the performance are really genuinely confining their objects to the promotion of aesthetic education by presenting works of a particular kind, or up to a particular standard, it seems to me that that is just as much education (and in fact, having regard to the subject-matter, the best available method of education) as lecturing or teaching in a class, or anything of that kind.” (p. 273); and “…it seems to me that the performance of this type of work by a trained choir is designed to raise the standard of musical taste, and to give the public an opportunity of hearing, becoming familiar with, and appreciating a particular type of music which comprises some of the very finest musical works that have ever been written.”(p. 274) See also Re Levien (deceased); Lloyds bank Ltd v Worshipful Company of Musicians and Others, [1955] 3 All E.R. 35, per Danckwerts J. at p. 40 where a trust for the training of singers of “serious” music for aesthetic purposes was charitable as raising the aesthetic taste; IRC v White, supra Footnote 4; and The Law and Practice Relating to Charities, Picarda, H., 3rd edition, Butterworths (1999) at pp. 53–55, and in particular, at p. 55 where the author references Associated Artists Ltd. v IRC, [1956] 1 W.L.R. 752 (Ch.D.), for the proposition that the “use of injudicious language indicating that the plays to be performed need not be of any particular merit may defeat any charitable purpose.”

Footnote 17

See, generally, the cases cited supra Footnote 16.

Footnote 18

See, for example, In re Pinion, supra Footnote 15, where, in assessing the artistic or aesthetic merit of proposed exhibits to judge whether they would be conducive to the education of the public “in the fine arts,” or “have a tendency to advance education in aesthetic appreciation or in anything else,” or were “…calculated to be for the advancement of education or otherwise of benefit to the public,” members of the court held it necessary to hear expert evidence on the issue. Specifically, Harman L.J., agreed that quality is a matter of different taste, but appealed to “an accepted canon of taste on which the court must rely,” stating that a court could hear expert evidence to establish same. In the end result, Harmon J. found the collections to have “neither public utility nor educative value.” (p.107) Per Russell L.J. at p.108: “The mere fact that a person makes a gift of chattels to form a public museum cannot establish that its formation will have a tendency to advance education in aesthetic appreciation or in anything else. Inquiry must first be made, what are the chattels? Five hundred balls of string could not have that tendency…Some further judicial inquiry is needed directed to the quality of those chattels. The judge cannot conduct that enquiry on his own, unless the matter be so obvious as to call for no hesitation. He may be lacking in aesthetic appreciation. He is, I consider, entitled to the assistance of people expert in such matters, and to arrive at a conclusion based on such assistance. If the conclusion so based is that the quality of the articles is such that their exhibition to the public cannot be reasonably supposed to have the tendency mentioned [the tendency to advance education in aesthetic appreciation], there is no charitable gift.”

Footnote 19

See, for example In re Pinion, supra notes Footnote 15 and Footnote 18, per Russell L.J. at p.108: “The mere fact that a person makes a gift of chattels to form a public museum cannot establish that its formation will have a tendency to advance education in aesthetic appreciation or in anything else. Inquiry must first be made, what are the chattels? Five hundred balls of string could not have that tendency…Some further judicial inquiry is needed directed to the quality of those chattels. The judge cannot conduct that enquiry on his own, unless the matter be so obvious as to call for no hesitation. He may be lacking in aesthetic appreciation. He is, I consider, entitled to the assistance of people expert in such matters, and to arrive at a conclusion based on such assistance…”

Footnote 20

Each organization will be assessed independently. Although two or more types of information will normally be required, exceptions may be considered based on an organization’s size, nature, and unique circumstance.

Footnote 21

For a journal or publication to be considered established: a) a production history of at least one year is necessary; and b) the contributors and editors must have a relevant background in the arts (educational or professional experience). A short description of the qualification or experience of the contributors and editors should accompany the documents submitted. In this guidance, professional arts reviewers are those who have a relevant background in the arts (educational or professional experience) and have published a minimum of five reviews, articles, or papers on arts-related subjects. A short description of the qualification or experience of the reviewer should accompany the documents submitted.

Footnote 22

In this guidance, curated means that a selection process was in place for the artists or artistic works that were chosen for the exhibitions, presentations, and performances and that the individuals (curators) making the selections were qualified by relevant academic qualifications and/or work experience. A short description of qualification or experience of the curator should accompany the submission.

Footnote 23

Whether or not a defined beneficiary group will be acceptable can vary depending on the purpose being furthered. For example, this part of the public test is less rigorously applied to purposes that relieve poverty, which have historically been allowed to have more narrowly defined beneficiary groups.

Footnote 24

This guidance provides a brief summary of the restrictions on private benefit. For more detailed information about public and private benefit, go to Policy statement CPS-024, Guidelines for registering a charity: Meeting the public benefit test.

Footnote 25

See, for example, IRC v White, supra Footnote 4.

Footnote 26

For more information, go to Policy statement CPS-023, Applicants assisting ethnocultural communities.

Footnote 27

IRC v White, supra Footnote 4

Footnote 28

IRC v White, supra Footnote 4


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