Monday, April 18, 2011

Arts and the Election: Où ça?

There was an interesting article in the Montreal Gazette this weekend about arts and the federal election—a topic I hadn't seen discussed much this time out. It's certainly worth a read, as it polls some major arts advocacy orgs on their views re: the election. An excerpt:

Blindsided by $45 million in budget cuts before the fall 2008 federal election, the artistic community across the country and especially in Quebec vowed to drive Stephen Harper's Conservatives from power.

In the end, Harper won, the artists lost, and the cuts went ahead. Now, better organized both at the provincial and national level, the artists want their message heard more than ever.

But compared to the outrage of 2008, they're going about in a very polite, very Canadian way.

Without much fanfare, Quebec's Mouvement pour les arts et les lettres, which represents 14,000 artists, asked all five major federal parties to outline what they have in store for culture if elected.

The Quebec group wants to know where the parties stand on three issues: more funding for the Canada Council for the Arts, more funding for promotion of Quebec arts abroad, and anything else that'll have a "positive effect" on arts and culture.

Deadline for answers: the end of Friday. Results so far: unknown.

Read on for the rest at the Gazette.

A few other links that might be of interest on this front:

Cube Gallery in Ottawa is holding a local candidates panel (sans Conservative candidate) tomorrow, Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30pm

The artist group Department of Culture has put out a call for election-related projects and posted a whack of resources on their site

Happy, er, polling!

(Image of 2008 arts election rally by Dave Sidaway for the Montreal Gazette)


Michael M said...

And the culture survey of the majors by the CCA has been released. Notice anyone not responding perhaps?

Leah Sandals said...

Wow, that is an incredible resource, Michael. Thanks for posting. Zero conservative party response... crazy! Did you notice in the Ottawa event listing there was not Conservative response either? Not a sausage.

I don't expect the arts to be coddled by the parties, but I would expect a party to have some talking points or policies ready to copy and paste from somewhere.

Part of me wonders if they're kind of like "screw it, we made our effort." I know that the Canada Periodical Fund, for instance, was restored or kept on balance for funding in the recent budget that got turned down. No cuts anyway. Maybe they were hoping (er, quite incorrectly) that the arts community (or at least parts of it) would already be behind them based on prior announcements like that.

Who knows, though? Of course the whole Conservative party communications clampdown must have something to do with it.

Michael Maranda said...

Clampdown, methinks. There are reports that local conservative candidates are being told not to appear at local riding debates.

As for the periodical fund, of course they announced a continuation. It's doing its job of appearing to support print culture while making sure none of those nasty little culture mags are getting any of the funding.

Leah Sandals said...

Hi Michael,

Good point on the culture mags funding. I love me some Chatelaine and Canadian Living and Fashion (for reals!) but I also find it ironic that the mags with the most ads are also among the ones that get the most federal cash.