Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank gawd it's TIFFday

Besides the Prime Minister's arts cuts--which, heads-up to the ones who want to reverse 'em, tomorrow will see the Department of Culture org lead an organizing meeting 10am at the Theatre Centre (1086 Queen St W)--the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF as its friends call it, is the other big arts story in Toronto right now. You know, celebs, popcorn, lineups, American media reps--all the things Hogtowners love are basically rolled into one event. How could we not dedicate all our arts pages to it for ten days-plus?

Ah, I'm not all snark and Anne Hathaway-sucksness, really. There's actually some coverage of TIFF I've really liked, including Sarah Lazarovic's daily illustration for the Toronto Star of people she encounters amidst TIFF's long lineups. Sadly, the Star doesn't seem to put her illos online, but they're well worth searching out in print. Here's one of the choice quotes, attributed to two young guys in glasses and polo shirts: "We finished work at 3am, we work at Starbucks and they're introducing a new product (oatmeal, whoohoo!). We took the GO Train in from Mississauga and got here at 6:30. We only have one day off, so if we even get the tickets we'll see Me and Orson Welles, Three Monkeys and Still Walking." Looking for an argument that art matters? That's one right there.

Also looking interesting is some of TIFF's attempts to bridge the art gallery-movie theatre (or would that be white cube-black box?) divide through its Future Projections program. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Glenn Ligon's The Death of Tom at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and Clive Holden's Utopia Suite at Stephen Bulger Gallery. I already saw Samuel Chow's I Feel Lucky at Craig Scott Gallery, and I heartily recommend it (see my NOW review here).

Getting back to that arts cuts story though--hard as it may be to believe when TIFF is an outlet for pure gov-art schmoozery at times--I just thought I would also post a few links on the topic:
  • The Georgia Straight's Sept 4 edition carried an article about the cuts: it's brief but it promises that the Alliance for Arts and Culture will soon be organizing a protest action there
  • Two Globe and Mail columnists, Rick Salutin and Russell Smith, have published columns critiquing the cuts. Salutin's convinced that the arts cuts will be the Conservatives' make-or-break election issue, a point I tend to disagree with. Everyone in the arts, myself included, would like that to be the case, of course, but point is many Canadians have other first priorities, like, say, the environment, or the economy, or childcare, or whatever. Smith, for his part, tries to make the case for why the arts matter, though he's rolling his eyes so much over the fact that he has to explain it (philistine Canadians!) that listening to him is a bit tiresome, even for an arts supporter. Just my take, of course, and it's better they published this stuff than not. (How else would I have known that Globe staffers used to call the arts section the pansy pages?)
  • An older article from the Calgary Herald doesn't get too radical, but does quote a few Calgary arts leaders on their view of the importance of the arts--even in oiltown!
  • Also in Calgary, the alt-weekly FFWD reports that former conservative PM Joe Clark is calling the cancellation of PromArt a mistake; why was this story not picked up in other media, I wonder? Says Clark of the now-dead PromArt: “It adds a dimension to Canada’s international reputation that is both true — because we are a country of creativity and cultural excellence — and a dimension that is necessary, because it helps define Canada’s difference,” he says. “Even on a purely economic basis, [cutting PromArt] makes no sense — those programs helped Canadians abroad draw attention to our country and our products, and helped economies at home where artists were based.” You willing to stump for Dion, Joe?
  • Speaking of the west, I'm betting the cuts will be a big topic of conversation at Calgary's Artcity and Vancouver's Swarm this weekend.
  • And as mentioned previously, Toronto arts supporters are urged to come out to an organizing meeting against the cuts at 10am Saturday Sept 6 at the Theatre Centre. It's organized by Department of Culture.
Pic of artsy Tilda Swinton paparazzo'd in TO from the TO Star celebrity blog, Stargazing

No comments: