Friday, August 15, 2008

Look out Harper, you just picked a fight with the wrong people

Having been caught in lies and fabrications last week about their planned elimination of the $9-million Trade Routes run by Heritage Canada and the $4.7-million PromArt program run by Foreign Affairs, the Tories silently announced the axing of five more cultural programs via web site postings yesterday.

The Tories posted notices on the web pages of programs including the Stabilization Projects and Capacity Building, two of the four initiatives under the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Program.

So far this week the announced cuts are:
  • $300 thousand in annual contributions to two A-V Presentation Trust programs
  • $1.5 million to the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund
  • $2.5 million to the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sector
and if the Post is correct 
  • $4.7 million New Media Research Networks Fund
As background
Stabilization Projects, to be shut down in April, were established in seven cities from Victoria to Charlottetown to provide financial and administrative support to arts organizations.

Capacity Building is a companion program to provide similar assistance to organizations with no access to a Stabilization Project and has given aid to 347 arts and 214 heritage organizations since 2002, but will be cut in 2010.
The Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) who represent over 400 film, television and interactive media companies across the country has warned it's membership not to wait for formal press releases from the government, but to react now.

In a written statement Sandra Cunningham, chairwoman of the CFTPA stated:
"We would offer, that this communications strategy (of making unannounced cuts) was specifically intended to minimize negative reaction from industry stakeholders."
The Tories are gambling that the majority of Canadians, do not really care about Canadian arts, artists, or our culture and for the most part consider federal funding of assistance programs to be frivolous.

Harper has just picked a fight with the most creative segment and industries in our country and by the sounds of this excellent article report by Janet Bagnall of the Gazette it will be an outright war.
For a country, this is cutting off your nose to spite your face. Two-year-olds, teenagers and irrational adults might indulge in pointless self-destruction, but governments are not supposed to jeopardize entire economic sectors no matter how angry they are that someone they don't like qualified for a grant.

A less ideologically driven government would know that Canada's $84.6-billion cultural sector, with its million-plus workers, should be encouraged and promoted at home and internationally.

As the Conference Board of Canada helpfully explained just last month, the culture sector plays "a critical role in attracting people, business and investment and in distinguishing our country as a dynamic and exciting place to live and work."

But this seems not to count for much with the Conservative government. Faced with the arts, it tends to show a distressingly Stalinist turn of mind, concerned more with ferretting out undeserving beneficiaries of state financing than acting in the country's interest.
We are about to have a battle about the definition of Canada. How we see ourselves and how we want the world to see us. 


Bring it on Harper. Perfect timing.




References: Gazette here, Globe here and National Post here.

2 comments:

Beijing York said...

Thanks for picking this up. I just was alerted to the other cuts by the CFTPA newsletter.

I am wondering what other cuts have been made beyond film and television. Have programs in support of performance arts or book/magazine publishing also been cut?

Or is Harper going after the film and television sector because they were so effective in mobilizing support to protest the censorship clause in Bill C-10 (the omnibus taxation housekeeping bill)?

David Toronto said...

He's painted himself into a corner and now he's wondering where Mary Poppin's brolly is to lift him out of the jam.