Tag Archives: Canadian

Federal arts cuts coming?

Federal Finance Minister James Flaherty (rather than Heritage Minister James Moore, interestingly) issued threats of potential arts cuts just days before Canada Day. His warning came on the heels of the abrupt slashing of grants to Toronto’s successful Summerworks Festival  which had drawn the ire of the Conservative government the summer before for its political content. The cuts to Summerworks are clearly politically motivated, are an utterly unacceptable interference in the arts, and are a threat to basic Canadian freedoms. Further threats to investment in other parts of the Canadian culture industry are also unacceptable, a reversal of the Harper government’s stated intentions during their election campaign, and economically let alone socially unwise. CBC story follows:

Don’t count on grants, Flaherty warns arts groups – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News

“Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has a warning for cultural institutions that have come to rely on regular government funding: don’t count on it.

Flaherty delivered the message Tuesday shortly after announcing $500,000 in support for this year’s Canada Walk of Fame Festival, to be held in Toronto.

The funding falls under the Canada Arts Presentation Fund administered by Canada Heritage.

On Monday, SummerWorks, an acclaimed Toronto indie theatre festival, announced it had lost its federal funding. The festival made headlines last year after staging “Homegrown,” a play about a convicted terrorist, a member of the group known as the Toronto 18.

In a note posted on its blog, the festival said it had received federal funding for five straight years — totalling $140,000 — and was surprised to learn it would not get more money this year.

But Flaherty says arts organizations should not set their budgets assuming they’ll get government funds.

“One thing I’d say, and maybe it’s different than it used to be, is we actually don’t believe in festivals and cultural institutions assuming that year after year after year they’ll receive government funding,” Flaherty said.

“They ought not assume entitlement to grants … no organization should assume in their budgeting that every year the government of Canada is going to give them grants because there’s lots of competition, lots of other festivals, and there are new ideas that come along.

“So it’s a good idea for everyone to stay on their toes and not make that assumption.”

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For more information on the cuts to Summerworks in particular, read:

Globe and Main: SummerWorks appearance gave Victoria’s Ride the Cyclone legs

And just as an aside, here’s what the federal government thinks is worth investing in, culturally, outside the Canada Council or other arms length agencies. Is the government deciding what our culture will be now or does Canada’s culture industry perhaps make more informed choices, let alone better and wise use of tax dollars?

1. Canada’s Walk of Shame: It’s your tax dollars at work

2. Ottawa plans $100-million celebration of War of 1812

The 1970s in Canada were a golden age of culture in Canada (NFB, CBC, film, visual arts, design) & we could do that again.

Or fighter jets.

What sort of country do we want?

Write Minister Flaherty and Minister James Moore and tell them that you as a Canadian citizen and audience member do not want cuts of investment to Canadian culture and the Canadian culture industry. It might also be good to tell them that government must not dictate the content of Canadian culture, and that the cuts to Summerworks are disturbing.

Flaherty.J@parl.gc.ca
james.moore@parl.gc.ca

A couple of lines is enough.

Thanks!

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The Winter of Art’s Discontent, by Laura Trethewey

Article originally appeared in Broken Pencil magazine. Reprinted with permission from Broken Pencil and writer Laura Trethewey.

During a recession, governments both federal and municipal are on the hunt for places to cut costs and the arts seem to be an easy target. Laura Trethewey followed the carnage of arts funding cuts across the country to see the effect on local artists and, ultimately, our culture.

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up — I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.”

– Stephen Harper, September 2008

Hot in the pursuit of a majority government in the midst of the 2008 election, Stephen Harper landed in Saskatoon. The Star Phoenix predicted a talk on crime and justice, but in between the tough-on-crime rhetoric came a now infamous diatribe against arts funding. No one, least of all artists, expected the arts to become a serious election issue. But in retrospect, Harper’s ill-advised aside may well have slowed his party’s momentum and contributed to the last minute slide that led to their second minority win.

The comment also led to the rarest thing of all, an actual debate about our cultural life, one that pitted those committed to the funding of the arts against those obsessed with fiscal restraint and the wisdom of the free market. Now, a year-and-a-half later, it’s like that conversation never happened.

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