Saturday, September 06, 2008

Petition to protest Harper's cuts to the arts

The Professional Association of Canadian Theaters is circulating a petition “Canada supports the arts” to protest the ideologically-driven slashing of arts funding by the Stephen Harper Conservative government.

It's worth noting that, according to Statistics Canada, for every $1.00 that the government invests in arts and cultural activities and programs, another $5.00 is created in both spinoffs and matching corporate investments. That makes the $48 million cut by the Conservatives more like removing $240,000,000 of economic activity from the Canadian economy

The goal is 10,000 signatures, they're at just over 3700 today. Here's the petition letter, and you can sign here:

Canadians depend on our artists and their work to tell Canadian stories. Government investment is a crucial element of cultural diplomacy in every developed nation including Canada. The arts contribute to GDP, enhance Canada's international reputation, and make Canada a more innovate and creative country.

The loss of $48.8 million in arts and culture funding is a loss to all Canadians.

We call on the Government of Canada to partner with the arts and culture sector to create new innovative policies and programs, to refine and enhance existing policies and programs and as a minimum commitment to make significant ongoing investments in arts and culture at 2008.2009 levels, through the Canada Council for the Arts, the departments of Canadian Heritage, Finance and Foreign Affairs and International Trade, for the benefit of Canada and Canadians.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Mike514 said...

Your video post earlier this morning concerned pre-election spending sprees. I was totally with you on that one.

Now, you highlight a petition for more arts funding. Fine.

However... in making the video, you obviously chose embarrassing funding: 2000$ for a UFO fest, 500 000$ for an IMAX film (why does IMAX need gov't money anyway?), 300 000$ for a ski lodge in NL, etc, all of which are arts and culture funding (and yes, architecture is art in its own way).

So how am I supposed to feel? This morning, I was embarrassed that we're funding a UFO fest, but this afternoon I'm embarrassed that we're not funding enough for the UFO fest??...

Jeff said...

It's not a petition for more arts funding, Mike. It's a petition to reverse the CUTS to arts funding. Two different things.

And no, we shouldn't be funding UFO festivals. We're on the same page there, and you should still feel free to embarrassed we're funding it.

I'm not sure if we're on the same page on the idea of whether the government should be funding the arts at all. I feel there is an important government role, both because of the interests of the government in promoting and supporting Canadian culture, and because of the economic spinoffs and jobs the industry creates. If you don't think they should, we probably part ways there.

If you agree there is some government role, I think we'd both agree there needs to be a degree of judiciousness in how the government allocates the funding. For example, UFO festivals bad. Using already shrunk culture funds on dubious projects as pre-election vote buying, bad.

So I support restored arts funding, and the wise and judicious spending of said arts funding. I think that's fairly consistent.

Beijing York said...

Thanks for the link to PACT and their petition. Here is the comment I posted with my signature:

The Conservatives, and previously the Reform Party, are adept at manipulating public perception of arts and culture funding by cherry picking a few titles that might incite outrage. That handful of projects that they inevitably trot out represents less than 1% of the total number of products and presentations created by Canada's cultural industries. In the case of film production alone, the economies of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver would suffer tremendously without public support. As for the typical "let the market decide what gets made" mantra with reference to the US, too few people seem to recognize that (a) we only have the population of California so we lack economies of scale, and (b) US cultural goods also receive all sorts of incentives and subsidies.

Mike514 said...

Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. I think you've summed it up pretty well.

There is definitely an important government role, but since art is so subjective, it's difficult to quantify an appropriate amount of funding, and qualify arts projects worthy of funding.

Although I'm sure many consider the UFO fest culturally significant... :)

The Rat said...

"For example, UFO festivals bad."

Geez, what a snob. Some people's culture is obviously not worth funding and other's is (voice of fire, anyone??). And I guess only Liberals are qualified to make that decision. Of course, I think a lot of the arts funded under the Liberals was a huge waste but I'm just some redneck con and my opinion doesn't count.

Or to be more plain, Jeff, your stance is incredibly hypocritical. Funding the arts is something government should not be part of for the simple reason that political bent is going to influence the types of "art" one likes and funds. Further, arguments about the "benefit" is highly speculative and if profit motive is the concern we should look for the most effective investment, my bet is art ain't it. You're ragging the Cons because they cut funding, AND for funding art you don't like. That's one hell of a position.

Jeff said...

LOL. So your position rat is no government involvement at all? Fine, at least that's consistent.

Since your party disagrees with you though, and does still see some role for the government, and even boasts they're spending more than the Liberals did on culture, don't you think there should be some kind of subjective process for dolling it out?

And I'll point-out that the economic spinoff benefits of arts and culture investment are far from speculative...Statistics Canada isn't in the habit of making stuff up or pontificating abstractly. They generally use, you know, statistics and stuff, and their statistics show substantial economic benefit.

I'm ragging the Cons because they cut funding, and they used the remaining funding in a pre-election electioneering scheme on projects of questionable value. That's a perfectly reasonable position, whether you agree with it or not. As a taxpayer, questioning their use of my tax dollars is my right, and responsibility.

Oh, re: funding decisions, I think arms-length granting bodies would be appropriate to remove any chance of political bias.

And name-calling isn't really necessary rat, you can do better.

The Rat said...

"Statistics Canada isn't in the habit of making stuff up or pontificating abstractly. They generally use, you know, statistics and stuff, and their statistics show substantial economic benefit."

Kinda like their crime stats? But you missed the point, if profit is the motive, the arts are a LOW benefit investment.

"I think arms-length granting bodies would be appropriate to remove any chance of political bias."

Oh, Gawwwddd, More bureaucracy, more paid whiner/advocates, and obviously they'd have to be from the "Arts Community", guys paying the way, like me, need not apply.

And you are a snob if you can't see the humour and fun in a UFO convention. I bet it was profitable, too. Don't you watch Battlestar??? Stargate?? Firefly, at least?

Don't worry, Jeff, you're still on my "I'd buy that Liberal a beer if he was in Vancouver" list.

Jeff said...

I love Stargate. And Stargate Atlantis. Can't get into Battlestar though.

Demosthenes said...

"But I'm just some redneck con and my opinion doesn't count."

Truer words.

If the arts community were smart, they'd get artists on TV and on the radio and whatnot to discuss this. People pay one hell of a lot more attention to entertainment than politics, and this is one issue where they're not going to look like dilettantes.

Beijing York said...

That's a really good idea Demosthenes. Too many people have absolutely no freaking clue of how the myriad of arts and culture funding programs work. Most of the programs cut were market-driven and free of subjective content analysis.

The Canada Council, which does provide individual artist grants on the merit of projects (content based), did not have its funding cut thus far. And even at that, the government does not decide who gets funding. It's an arms length agency and all project applying for grants are adjudicated by peers. This is similar to funding for scientific research projects where other scientists judge the merits of a proposed project, as it should be.