Zoilus by Carl Wilson

When the Saints Go Marching In

October 26th, 2009

As I write, Toronto musicians and arts supporters are assembling outside the CBC building in Toronto for a New Orleans-style parade “funeral” in the name of the Canadian Musical Diversity program, recently eliminated by Stephen Harper’s Conservative administration under Heritage Minister James Moore. This very small - $1.4-million - little program is directly responsible for a large share of the recordings made in this country by artists in jazz, folk, improv, “world,” contemporary composition and other “niche” genres, and indirectly for the way those recordings (however little they may sell individually) help make those artists’ careers as performers possible (as well as the festivals and other events organized around them). The money is being transferred over to some kind of “digital market development” program as well as international marketing (the latter being the program whose elimination we were protesting a couple of years ago).

For complete background and details, this Facebook page is likely the best clearinghouse.

The mark of ideology is on this, as the Harperites want to increase funding to the FACTOR program, whose basic policy is to give a boost to artists/labels whose commercial prospects are strong. It’s in keeping with the general neoliberal bias of this government to give helping hands to “winners” and the boot to “losers” (whom they’ve tried to make seem like lazy whiners by claiming these artists are “not interested” in commercial success, as if they were the musical equivalent of hobby farmers). I have no quarrel with helping out the likes of Arts & Crafts records, whose success is actually modest and surely helpful to the overall health of the Canadian music scene - it makes good economic sense, probably pays for itself in taxes. But this move threatens the principle that public funding is meant to supply the social benefits - such as a musical culture that’s reflective of our social and intellectual diversity - that the market alone cannot provide. And it’s a cheap-ass, sleazy, kneecapping cash grab by the government against people who’ve already sacrificed their own prosperity in order to make the kinds of music they believe in.

Let the trumpets sound!

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  2. C Fellows says:

    Sleazy Kneecapping Indeed!
    Thank you for your articulate defense of the losers, Carl.
    Yours truly,
    I remain

  3. Merv says:

    nicely put Carl

  4. Glenn M says:

    Hell yeah Carl! You nailed it.

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