5 years ago
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Stephen Harper ... "ordinary people don't support the arts" and neither does he
It was easy to figure out the theme of my first blog post completion of my tile. It came to me sometime yesterday when I first heard a sound bite of Stephen Harper in Saskatchewan yesterday describing artists as the "social elite" subsidized by taxpayers dollars. He was defending his announced cuts in arts spending and said "I think when ordinary people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people ... at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough ... I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people". Hmmm ... I am not sure what arts "galas" he is referring to, but I can assure Mr. Harper that artist are not the social elite, they are some of the lowest income earning individuals and that they, and the people who enjoy their art be it visual, performance or otherwise, are also "ordinary people". I agree that we cannot live beyond our means, but come on ... what is he thinking. Perhaps in a year there are one or two galas as the one he is describing and guess what, the rich people that are attending it are not the artist, they are the people that come out to these events and support the artists by just being there, and with luck, buying their work. Many artists who are self-supporting have to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Harper went on to talk about how they they are "listening to ordinary people ... not people who work in ivory towers, but people who actually work on the street". Funny, I don't know any artists or arts organizations who live in ivory towers ... perhaps he is confused and is thinking about his friends in the corporate world who he would rather support. And just to set the record straight regarding his comments that funding to Canadian Heritage has gone up 8%, this department does more than fund the arts. According to the Ontario Crafts Council, the Conservative government has chosen to cut 13.7 million in funding for the arts through the Canadian Heritage and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. These cuts, mainly to curb spending on international touring and travel of Canadian art and artists in all disciplines, including visual arts and fine craft, affect the entire cultural sector. George Stroumboulopoulis had a great rant on this subject on his show last night. If there was any question in my mind about who I am voting for, I can tell you for sure now, who I am not going to be supporting.