Harper’s right. Almost all of what passes for ‘art’ in Canada today most ordinary Canadians do not give two hoots about nor are Canadians prepared to pull out their wallets and pay for it – otherwise the artistic community in this country would not have to rely on the governmental largess for its daily bread.
In any given time, in any given culture, if patrons cannot be found who are freely willing to pay for the fare which is offered by the artistic community, is says something substantial about the fare which is offered, but apparently, not in Canada.
The government purse is not a finite resource. The purse is only filled by sweat of the brow of the taxpayers via the coercive arm of Revenue Canada. Life is about choices and so is government. The government cannot go on funding indefinitely and without concern to the cost of each program which it currently funds.
There is a health care crisis in this country and thousands of Canadians are left without family physicians for their daily health care. It takes money, a great deal of money, spent over a rather long time to train a medical student to be a doctor. It takes money, and a great deal of money to buy an MRI, it takes money and time to train a technician to operate said machine, which correctly operated, does save lives. Not to mention the money which is needed to be invested to set up a university or college program and pay the staff to be prepared to accept to train said medical student or future MRI technician.
Trade skills training in this country is woefully inadequate and chronically under funded. So inadequate, in fact, that our business leaders tell us we need to import skilled tradesmen from other countries to meet the basic demands of industry at any given time.
Basic infrastructure in our cities is crumbling around us and provincial governments pay more attention to financing risky artistic ventures (think Bored of the Rings) than work with municipalities under their domain to keep the roads from sinking, the water drinkable and food for sale safe for human consumption. Instead our municipal mayors go cap in hand to the federal government demanding a bail-out while never trimming the fat from their own dubious budgets. I mean really, do we really need to give out 9% salary increases, free TTC passes, golf club passes, lunches, zoo passes, box tickets to games, play etc for municipal councillors or penalize the poor from scrounging in garbage cans?
And yet, the truly odd thing about the arts funding debate is those who have rallied to the cause of the ‘artistic community’ are the same people who demand we do not institute a 2-tier health care system and let those pay for health services who can afford to pay, and pret on endlessly about the shortfalls in education spending. Go fracking figure.
Given a choice between giving a government grant to film productions – like say, Young People Fucking or improving the health care or educational system; I am betting the overwhelming majority of Canadian would opt for health care and education funding every single time.
We are told by the artistic community that there is a net benefit to the entertainment industry in this country and it brings in a net financial return, but my question is; if so, why does it need government largess to continue to prop up the industry? It wouldn’t unless, it is wholly the product of a governmentally created, and therefore, artificial industry in the first place. And before anyone gets on their high aesthetic horse, I am against funding athletes, sports ventures or corporate bailouts. Imagine, Maple Leaf Gardens was built in the midst of the Great Depression and did not receive a penny of venture financing needed to build it from the government of the day.
Apparently, artists are tired of being treated as tenants and demand to be landlords in Canadian culture, but this is where I say - being a tenant would be a definite step up from sucking off the public teat. At the least, a tenant has to pay rent. There is a definitive reason why most Canadians do not watch the Canadian produced artistic fare in any significant numbers on the CBC, and once given a choice between the internet, cable or satellite television Canadians tune out from the CBC in significant numbers.
I am told Canadian artists are the creators and guardians of our culture, their work inspires and uplifts our souls but I would say - most of us are so deeply unimpressed which is why you need the government largess in the first place. The last thing Canada needs is more artists making bad art which no one wants to freely pay for. Frankly, this is one Canadian who is deeply tired of having her paycheque regularly extorted by the arts community in this country. If cutting $45 million from an overall budget of $3 billion gets the arts community into such a hissy fit - you should all be so lucky it is Stephen Harper, and not me, taking the sissors to the overall budget.