Very eloquently said, I just hope there's truth in his notion that artists can have an impact in this election!
Posted by malstain at September 10, 2008 9:03 PM
By all accounts, the Tories haven't actually cut arts funding at all, just gassed a few programs while adding money to others. So we can interpret this sort of commentary two ways:
1. Artists care more about the symbolism of politics than the reality, or
2. Canada's arts community, in the main, will never support the Tories, no matter what they do or don't do.
In either light, why the current government doesn't kowtow to artists becomes easy to understand.
Posted by Garnet at September 11, 2008 2:22 AM
The Tories have absolutely cut arts funding; but perhaps, in their eyes, they haven't cut "cultural" funding.
I believe you're referring to the fact that the Department of Canadian Heritage has "re-allocated" the money previously spent on the Trade Routes program (among others) to a fund earmarked for the opening ceremony at the upcoming 2010 Olympics. In the Tories' eyes, it's all "culture", right? Sports are certainly a lot easier to manage and exploit as a promotional tool for a political party than a bunch of opinionated artists.
you can find an article on that here:
As for the likelihood of anyone with half a brain who actually cares about Canadian culture voting Conservative, you're probably right; the arts community had been given very little reason to trust or support the Tories prior to this slew of cuts. But Wajid's absolutely right when he says that these cuts may well serve as a rallying cry for artists and arts patrons, to mobilize against the blatant mistreatment of our sector by the current ruling party.
Had these cuts not occurred, we probably could have expected a few (mostly ignored) press releases by arts organizations asking Canadians to consider voting for a party with a clear grasp of the importance of the arts to our nation, and a general feeling of malaise (and low voter turn-out) by artists for the federal election.
But by showing their contempt for Canadian artists so clearly, the Tories have riled up and united a usually splintered and fractured community, giving them a common cause.
Artists and arts patrons in Canada are definitely a minority, and a special interest group. But, while we may not be as large or as well funded as, say, the automotive sector, we do have a statistically deep pool of intelligent and eloquent people to draw on in our time of need. The Tories have unwisely provided a clear motivation for such people to become politically active.
For an example of this resistance of which Wajid speaks, and what they intend to do, look here:
Posted by Gracing the Stage at September 11, 2008 3:59 AM
Garnet: "By all accounts, the Tories haven't actually cut arts funding at all, just gassed a few programs while adding money to others."
I'm not sure what you mean here, Garnet. From what I understand, the funding was cut from arts and redistributed to non-arts related programs. I even remember someone on the TV screen telling me that a chunck on the funding was going to the 2010 olympics for some reason. Am I not correct? This is an honest question, as you raise a point that I haven't once heard.
Posted by songles at September 11, 2008 7:50 AM
Statscan figures (from the end of 2004), tell us that cultural employment growth for five years had outpaced the overall economy.
The big three were the real moneymakers. Written media. Broadcasting. The film industry. As the note to readers suggested, "Total culture and Canadian GDP are calculated at current prices."
Even by such a commercial measurement, culture was a thriving enterprise. Of course, that doesn't measure the ancillary benefit of arts attraction for the tourist industry and the general benefit for those who find comfort or invigoration in reaction to what they see and hear in the work.
This interest cannot be overstated. Instead the government chooses to measure culture as a commodity, then decide that we are "over-producing". There aren't enough portals for all this "content", so clearly the sector needs cooling.
If the sector cooled any more it would be in total stasis. Nothing new of real merit can be produced under conditions where art-making must be a business first.
As for Harper's cuts to funding, you are mistaken. Oh, it's true that Harper threw a few pathetic bones back into his spending announcements for the community. You will also notice how cynically political those announcements are and how small the actual dollar values are.
Nice try Garnet.
Posted by Half at September 11, 2008 8:48 AM
It turns out the answer to the funding question's a bit murky, at least if the Ottawa Citizen's account is to be trusted:
"Earlier this year, Parliament approved total spending on cultural programs, such as the CBC and the Canada Arts Council, of more than $4 billion. That's about 19 per cent more than the Liberals spent in their last year in office in 2005-2006.
Critics of the Conservatives, though, say a large proportion of that spending is for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the celebration of Quebec City's 400th anniversary."
The Quebec City anniversary I would take to be a primarily cultural event, so no obvious scandal there. The Olympics, as usual, are another story.
Posted by Garnet at September 11, 2008 12:20 PM
Well, Garnet, I'd kind of describe the Quebec City anniversary as a *political* event first (a nationalist or regionalist event) and a cultural event second. Which I think is a fairly consistent aspect of the Conservative way of looking at culture: The idea that it's about artists is very uncomfortable to them, as I think Mouawad addresses.
It is important that the arts community not go kneejerk here though, and you're right to be fact-checking. This decade has been a huge one for the development of cultural infrastructure - which is evident in Toronto more than anywhere, with the ROM and AGO renovations, the Opera House, etc. - and the Conservative gov't has been at least as generous as the Liberals in its support of those multilateral, large initiatives. It understands the value to tourism and local development of having those big cultural institutions.
But the elimination of the international outreach support programs is profoundly indicative of where their sophistication ends: What they don't appreciate is the value of cultural life in itself, culture as soft power, as a vector and lifeline that connects Canada to the world and in fact creates Canada within and for the world, as well as to each other. Add to that their predilection to play censorship games with arms-length institutions like Telefilm, and what you see is the potential for a Conservative majority to pull apart the more subtle lattice of supports that help the more intriguing, less glitz-glam-thank-you-ma'am elements of Canadian culture survive.
It's not that the Liberals have been *good* on these issues, btw - the Trudeau gang were but the Chretien and Martin era ones, not so much, and I'm just not sure about Dion (typically enough). But the Harper posse is much worse.
Posted by zoilus at September 11, 2008 2:52 PM
nice work, bro
Posted by CesTurne at September 21, 2008 5:47 PM
thank you, dude
Posted by GlidlybordSeri at September 28, 2008 4:58 AM
favorited this one, man
Posted by roawliniblerig at October 5, 2008 3:01 PM