About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Art of the Matter

It came up when I was talking to some Liberals at Summer Fling Saturday: the recently announced intentions of the Conservative government to eliminate funding for Canadian artists to travel abroad and promote Canadian culture. The following is from a Canadian Press article dated Friday:

"Foreign Affairs officials confirmed Friday that PromArt will lose its $4.7-million budget next spring, effectively killing the program.

"They attempted to play down reports that claimed the decision was motivated by ideological differences with many of the recipients.

"'More than anything it's a budget decision,' said Anne Howland, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson.

"'The government is committed to a more disciplined approach to managing spending.'"

"But Howland didn't deny that the ideological leanings of some recipients did figure in the decision.

"'Certainly we felt some of the groups were not necessarily ones we thought Canadians would agree were the best choices to be representing them internationally,' she said."

The example cited was Toronto-based rock band Holy F#@%. This Juno-nominated band, along with other prize recipients, Howland said, demonstrate a trend that "Some of the groups we felt had little to do with our foreign policy, or how Canadians would want us to be perceived abroad."

This led to comparisons to the governments Bill C-10, which will give them the ability to decide whether or not a film or television project gets funding based on whether or not it meets certain standards of appropriateness or national interest.

Earlier this week, for my day job, I interviewed a band called Problèmes de Communication from Denmark, who were making a tour of Canada based on a similar grant from their government. They told me how it was just one example of how all levels of government help artists pay the bills and get their art to the masses both at home and broad.

It also reminded me of this of an article I wrote for The Ontarion this past spring. You can read the story here. It's about one of Jack Layton's visits to Guelph, which included a meetign with members of Guelph's artistic community.

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