Saturday, August 23, 2008

Weekend Wonderings: Tory cuts, Harbourfront hops, Queen West walks

So the Tories revealed yesterday that the some of the $40-mil they've cut from the arts will be mainly be redirected to athletic teams, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Mr. Harper, I know you must be a dedicated reader of my blog, but such misguided accounting decision was not what I meant when I posted on Art vs. Sport earlier this summer.

After all, funding of art and sport need not be an either-or decision. Both should be funded well in a wealthy nation like ours. Thankfully, others have taken up this point in the last couple of days. Still, to reiterate:

  • Both Art and Sport represent Canada on the world stage. Sport has events like the Olympics and World Championships that highlight this, just as Art has events like the Venice Biennale and Documenta. In both cases, when Canadians perform well in these events, the world takes note. This is as true for David Altmejd at last year's Venice Biennale as it is for Jason Burnett at this year's Olympics.
  • Both Art and Sport are activities that, at an amateur level, improve the quality of life for many Canadians. Whether we're talking little-league soccer or Sunday still-life painting classes, both sport and the arts allow individuals of all ages to participate in something that brings them great pleasure, improved health, and, often, increased community fellow feeling.
  • Art and Sport are hardly mutually exclusive domains. As Martin Creed and, closer to home, the Movement Movement have shown, sports like running can be performance art in themselves. And as scoring structures for sports like diving and gymnastics demonstrate, aesthetics can be a vital part of sport. Further, as recent art exhibitions on sport have shown, these domains further interrelate on a mass level around the world.
  • Some aspects of Sport may be as negatively impacted by some of these "arts" cuts as Art is. Why? Because part of these cuts related to ending a collections digitization program--in other words, doing things like scanning historical photographs from museum collections to make them available online. There are many historical photographs, of course, that deal with sport from past years, whether it be awards ceremonies for 1950s hockey tournaments, group shots of Calgary curling teams from 1919, or images of past Olympic heroes like Bobbie Rosenfeld.

Sigh. Election, anyone?

In other news, there's still some art at Harbourfront, and on Queen West.

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