At least we can throw a petition at their heads…

To no one’s surprise, it seems our national leaders have been slicing and dicing more of our arts funding of late. With extreme prejudice. MK blogged about it. As did Ian. So now PACT is making the rounds with a petition to to fire off to the good ol’ Tories, suggesting that perhaps they give their heads a good shake.

I paraphrase, of course. The actual language used on the petition is this:

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.

The goal of the petition is 10,000 signatures. You can read comments from the existing signatories and add your name to the list by clicking here.


  1. Help me out here. I’m feeling jaded. Why do the arts deserve public funding?

    Why can’t we run our companies like the business they should be?

    I’m sure if you added up all Praxis Theatre’s grant writing man hours, we’d be pulling far, far below minimum wage.

    Public funding for the arts. I don’t know. Help me out.

  2. Jolly good question Ian, one that we should all consider. And there’s no pat answer.

    Do we deserve public funding? Yes, because the arts are a cultural imperative. Because it’s the job of the artist to create culture, and sometimes that means a long gestation period. So a country is responsible to those who would define it. Development deserves funding. Serious, workaholic artists deserve support. The arts are not a luxury, but they are currently treated as such. And government has the power to change that. And until dance, theatre, sculpture etc. becomes as lucrative and popular as pro sports and grande lattes, arts development needs a bedrock.

    Why can’t we run our companies as the businesses they should be? We can, hundreds can. And we should, because art is also a product (a finished product), as much as sneakers and novels, and pricing it increases its perceived worth. But to get to that level, we’re going to need a new model of selling it, and making it desirable to a broader audience, thus decreasing the reliance on development funding. This means that our companies have to put more energy, much more energy, into the health of the industry as well as their own artistic statements.

    Perhaps we should start with grants to attract more administrators and hot shot marketers into the sector. That’s where the lag in training is: business acumen.

  3. I think you’re both onto something. Marketing is the huge piece that is missing. (Well, more rehearsal time would also be nice.)

    I’m still blogging on this. (Thanks for the link-back, both of you.) The way I’m going, this is going to end up being a series. Don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. I see all of this as a huge opportunity if we rethink our usual responses and use it as a way to go forward and not just tread water.

  4. (can someone remove the thing above – I don’t know about this interweb)

    Ian – so I think there are important questions that can be raised around why the public funds arts, but it is crucial not to accept the falsehood that for-profit businesses exist without subsidy – note the Cons giving Ford $80 million yesterday (

    Now I don’t have a problem with helping to re-tool factories so they are more flexible and can make hybrid engines – this isn’t an either/or and we need to resist Con efforts to divide and conquer (see sports also)

    Tax breaks and incentives to induce corps (or sports teams) to settle in your town/province/country are common and everyday. And that can be ok, but we have to admit that it happens so that arts and other social programs can’t be cast as the only ones receiving gov’t support.

    maybe more on why art might matter later or elsewhere

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