Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Canuck Arts Communiques Aplenty

Well, though many in the arts community (myself included) are still on the freelance version of "vacation," the emails are really starting to fly about letters to send to the government regarding the millions in recent arts cuts.

Some of the communiques include:

  • Tech expert Michael Geist's commentary on how these arts cuts hurt the digital dissemination of Canuck culture worldwide. A tidbit: These program cuts seemingly guarantee Canada will fall further behind the digitization race, leaving Canadians without online access to their cultural and historical heritage and doing precious little to promote Canadian content to the rest of the world. The decisions may provide short-term gains among some voting constituencies, but also promise long-term pain for Canada's presence in the online world.
  • Simpleposie's ongoing and extensive archive of coverage on the cuts, as posed in the form of cogent questions such as What does The Canadian Writer's Union say? What does The Straight say?
  • Man Booker prize winner Yann Martel's appeal on his blog: The cancellation of PromArt was recently announced. The program, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, helps cover some of the travel costs of Canadian artists and cultural groups going abroad to promote their work. The grants to individuals are small, often between 750 and 1500 dollars. The budget of the entire program is only $4.7 million dollars. That’s about 14 cents a year per Canadian. For that small sum, Canada shows its best, most enduring quality to the nations of the earth. .. to cut an international arts promotion program is to vow our country to cultural anonymity.
  • Fuse magazine editor Izida Zorde's form letter to the Heritage Committee based on one by Penn Kemp: To Heritage Committee members: I understand that you are meeting today to discuss the recent Arts cuts. The latest news is that Mr. Harper plans to "redirect all savings" from his drastic cuts to Arts programs to support Vancouver Olympic programs and bilingualism. What an unfortunate dichotomy this sets up.Arts or Sports? Surely this Either/Or situation is not necessary! Here’s to Both/And!Sports and Arts are both funded by the Department of Heritage, so why are arts programs being targeted? There are many Roads to Excellence and Action Plans. I’m holding the torch for Arts as well as athletics, in both official languages.
  • Theatre artist Jacob Zimmer's extensive draft of a letter to same at the Dancemakers Centre for Creation blog: Capacity for doubt, challenge, hope and curiosity is as vital for a nation as it is for a writer, a physicist, a politician, an athletics coach or a medical researcher. None of these fields should by tied to a single simple “majority rules” moral ideology. (This is not to say that there are not conversations of ethics that are crucial to address in all these fields.)

As a bright note to round it all off, the Conference Board of Canada released a report in the last few days stating that the arts makes a big contribution to the Canadian economy: In 2007, it estimates the sectors represented $46 billion of the overall economy, or about 3.8 per cent of GDP.

Not that Harper's actually listening, but y'know, the stats do help.


J@simpleposie said...

Thanks for the props Leah - the most interesting development in this whole thing so far was the meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that took place yesterday. You can listen to it on a Real Media Player. Paste this link in your browser:


J@simpleposie said...

Actually, if you use that link - you'll have to go to August 26th on the calendar before you can download anything. Sorry for the round about directions. You can also get there via simpleposie:


Leah Sandals said...

Thanks Jennifer! I'll put that up top today too.

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