Thursday, September 25, 2008

Government Funded Arts. Cut or Keep?

All this fuss over so called cuts to the arts. I really don’t understand it. Unless of course it is simply a last ditch attempt by the Liberals to win a few seats. But when you examine the facts, the complaints make no sense.

The issue really isn’t about the amount we spend on the arts, it’s whether government has a right to decide where money for the arts, or anything else should be spent. Overall, funding for the arts increased eight per cent last year, but several programs were cut, lopping about 45 million dollars off the overall budget.

In other words, the Conservatives took money away from some programs, allocated them to other programs, and added eight per cent. What’s wrong with that?
And look at some of the programs cut: The one the so-called arts community seems to be complaining the most about is something called PromArt, which didn’t actually fund any works of art, but rather provided travel money for various individuals and groups.
The Rock band Holy—F***for example can still perform, but we taxpayers aren’t going to be paying their travel expenses to foreign lands anymore. Ditto left wing radicals like Avi Lewis.
We won’t be paying for guys like Gwynne Dyer to take a nice little trip to Cuba.
Films like Young People F****ing will just have to find funding from someone other than us taxpayers.

And let’s not forget something else. When it comes to funding the arts, governments of all stripes have always, and continue, to pour billions into things like art galleries, museums, arts centers, libraries and various other so called cultural events from rock fests to local fairs.
And what about the publishing industry? I picked three books at random from Steve Madely’s desk this morning. The first happens to be a book entitled Where War Lives—author is Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Paul Watson.
Fine. An interesting book, but check inside the front cover. Let me read you what is says: “We acknowledge the financial support of the government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program”

Let’s see. That’s four separate grant programs that little book has tapped into. How much money is involved I have no idea. The next book I picked up is the Way it Works, by Eddie Goldenberg, right hand man to Liberal Prime Ministers for many years. Let’s see how his publisher tapped into us taxpayers. This book says: “We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and that of the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Ontario Book Initiative. We further acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts council for our publishing program."
Another four grant programs hit up for an author who I would suspect is hardly destitute.
The third book I picked up in a real Left wing Dandy entitled Dry Spring, The Coming Water Crisis of North America written by Chris Wood. His publisher has been able to tap into a different set of taxpayers grants. Let me read the inside cover of this book: "Raincoast Books gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit and the Government of Canada through the Canada Council for the arts and the Book Publishing Industry Development Program."

Wonderful. Another four grant programs hit up, and, by the way, Raincoast Books was the distributor for the Harry Potter books so I would imagine it has a few dollars stored away for safe keeping. Hardly in need of your money or mine.

Now let’s have a look at a local author named Lowell Green who has written three best selling books, made a fair chunk of money, as did his publisher, without receiving one single cent. Not a cent of taxpayers money from any source.

And Why should Lowell Green, or any author receive any taxpayers money? If people want to read the book, they will buy it. If people don’t want to read the book, they won’t buy it. But why should taxpayers be forced to pay for something nobody wants to read?

Same holds true of other segments of the so called arts world. Create something of value, something people want to read, see or hear, and they will pay for it.
Fact is, supporting stuff only a tiny handful of people have any interest in, does not support the arts, it supports junk, and actually discourages real worthwhile art.

Let me give you an example:
A very well know and popular Canadian Author recently contacted several major publishers to see if they were interested in a new book he was writing. His four previous books had all been Canadian Best Sellers, made hundreds of thousands of dollars for him and his publisher who was going out of business. One of the publishers who responded said they weren’t interested and only published what they described as "literary works". But, said the author, you are guaranteed a profit from my book of at least a hundred thousand dollars. "Oh," replied the publisher, "we don’t really care about that. We are government supported!"

Lovely stuff.

And by the way-most Canadian authors who are not in the main stream “CBC literary crowd” will tell you similar stories.
Yes, government needs to support the arts. Galleries, art centers, and museums are a vital part of our culture, but surely we taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for so called artists who in one case stuff vials of blood in their anus, stand on their heads so the blood runs into his mouth, or garbage like young people F****ing!

And we sure as hell shouldn’t have to pay for lefties like Gwynne Dyer to travel to Cuba!


Diane said...

It's funny Lowell that you weren't expressing such outrage last week when Eugene Melnyk announced that he'd be looking for financial support from the federal and provincial governments as well as a valuable donation of land from the City of Ottawa to support his bid for a professional soccer franchise in Ottawa. So I guess it's ok for government to give financial support to millionaires with grand ideas but not to artists, eh?!

ottawasportsfan said...

There is a difference between a % of the money and a 100% hand out.What melyck is looking for is some funds to asst help him not 100% of the funds.Besides the revenue from the soccer stadium would triple and the gov and city would of course come out on top.Now if the artsist had the same deal a % and not 100% then i am sure people would be fine with it.

deneb said...

Interesting how people justify their argument by the old "two wrongs make em' right" 'logic'!

Our common sense prime minister is correct that many do not want their tax dollars supporting grotesque shock- art, of which there is no redeeming social value. It is enough that these 'artists' are free to express themselves, a right that doesn't exist in much of the world.

This cherished freedom is ours also -- in that we are free to demand that our government not bill us for material that is hardly representative of our Canadian culture.

I am okay with some tax dollars going towards supporting true Canadiana artwork, of the highest quality -- that which makes us proud -- not disgusted. Something which we can show to the world.

The bulk of the rest will sell itself if it has any merit.

Anonymous said...

This is - and has been - a question of definitions.

If a person is skilled and talented enough to make a living 'doing art', such a person IS an artist - and does not need government handouts.

If a person 'produces art' - but is not able to make a living at it, this is - by definition - their HOBBY.

And since WHEN should governments support SOME people's HOBBIES???

Please, don't get me wrong. I LOVE the arts. I even paint myself - and am donating 2 of my paintings to the next 'free speech' auction to support Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidlie and the rest of the Canadian 'free speechers' who are being persecuted.

And I DO see the role for the Government to support 'the arts' - but NOT the 'entertainment industry'!!! That is 'big business', not 'art'.

The government should fund arts in high schools - visual arts programs, music (including musical instruments), but - primarily - ensuring that students can use school equipment to prodiuce 'our generation' of creative arts - cameras, editing programs, internet young budding atritsts would have the means (WHILE at school) to make movies to post on places like YouTube - to gage their potential to 'make it' ON THEIR OWN - as well as to help them develop to their full potential.

djxtreme said...

Some people have turned milking the system (welfare) in to an art. And boy are THEY getting alot of funding.

xiz said...

ottawasportsfan : If subisidies to sports facilities are supposed to 'triple' and the 'gov and city would come out on top' .. explain why just a few years ago, the Senators were on the verge of bankruptcy, and the Montreal Olympic Stadium racked up a 30-year debt. Sports facilities can be just as big a sinkhole for public money as anything else can be.

Further, most artists *do not* rely solely on government funds for their livelihood. The average income for artists is somewhere around 25,0000 a year, hardly a luxurious life. Most artists have to maintain day jobs in order to make ends meet.

Funny that Mr. Green seems to get so bent out of shape over public money going towards things that could potentially make us a much richer society .. libraries, arts, museums .. why is that?

artarcher272 said...

I consider myself as a regular every day kind of Canadian. I do go to see a play once in awhile if the title catches our attention. We paint at home for ourselves and do not sell our work, rather give them to family for xmas gifts etc.
The thought of government funding art, especially some art forms that no one except "art lovers" enjoy, is beyond me.
Our government is too envolved with our everyday lives as it is. Less government the better and I say if someone enjoys art, then let thme pay for it, I do.
This has nothing to do with the so called Canadian culture, it all has to do with freebies for the elite. How can you call a movie called young people f--king a piece of art. This is porn plain and simple and the government should not be part of it.

reidjr said...

1)At the time the senators along with the oilers and other nhl teams did not get more then 10% help from the goverment.You compare that to what a good chunck of what artists get which is 40-80% of there funding provided by the gov.

2)Yes a a artists lives off of $25,000 but there get a good chunk of there project paid for by the goverment.

3)I am one that beleaves if you fund one thing you have to fund the other in some sort of way.So if the gov is goign to give $5 billion dollars to the arts.An equal amount should be given to grass roots sports.

4)Why people get bent is because there is many many more pressing issues then the arts etc.

Community Houseing
Drug Rehab Centre
River clean up
Transit System

These all need to be taken care of before more money is given to the arts and a $200 million dollar library.

deneb said...

...And then there was the guy who claimed to be working as a government artist because he was 'drawing' welfare benefits.

Speaking of visual con-art: Who can forget that triple-striped, multi-million dollar monstrosity that cursed our city art gallery some years ago? I ask you, could we as a nation display such a piece as a showcase example of our fine Canadian taste of the arts? ... Look out Mona Lisa, our triple-striped monstrosity is coming to steal the show!

Robert said...

It is not the funding of the arts that has Conservatives upset. It is the "value for money" issue that is at the heart of this.

Conservatives have a different view of what constitutes "value".

Conservatives do not have a problem funding culture, museums and things that preserve our heritage and our history.

We do have a problem sending Tal Bachman to South Africa with $16,500 in his pocket.

Or $3,000 to Holy F_ _ K rock band to tour in the UK.

It smacks of Dingwall's infamous "entitled to my entitlements" syndrome.

Personally, I find it hard to reconcile the idea of a young carpenter who goes to work each day to frame houses having to see part of his earnings being taken from him, and used to pay for someone who likes to paint pictures, but doesn't paint well enough for someone to actual pay for them.

Or contribute $100,000 to another "artist" like Cesar Saez for a giant banana balloon. (Isn't it a surprise that it has been canceled due to the inability to raise funds) I wonder if the taxpayer will see any of their money returned.

I will never forget one caller to Lowell's show. It was about 6 or 7 years ago. I am not sure if Lowell would remember. The guy's name was "Tom". He was upset that he could not earn a living playing the guitar. He did not think it was fair that he had to have a job to pay his bills, when what he really wanted to do was play the guitar. He honestly felt that in our society, if he wants to play the guitar, then he should be able to do that and the taxpayer should pay his living expenses. Lowell asked him if anyone pays to listen to him play. "No" was his answer. It just wasn't fair.

Lowell though he was joking at first, but this guy was serious.

I think everyone here can imagine Lowell's reaction.

I also find it funny when we talk of arts funding that the lefties always complain about the Senators and the Scotiabank Place. Last time I looked, there was an awful lot of concerts and musical shows that take place at Scotiabank Place. Shows that would likely not take place in Ottawa if the stadium was not here.

Keep up the good work, Stephen Harper. There are millions more in cuts that should be made. The working stiffs aren't making much noise, but we are listening.

Clownshoes2 said...

Yes, financial support for something that is going to contribute THOUSANDS of tax dollars every year, and who knows how much money in other areas, plus providing jobs. How much money will be generated by a guy dripping blood out of his arse into his mouth?

Perhaps I should get federal money to smear dog crap on pictures of every liberal prime minister for the last 100 years and call it "canada, americas bitch". I wonder how that would go over.

oliverthinks said...

oh lowell, stop trying so sad to save Stevie. He will get in, your efforts are really a bit pathetic, you should try to be more of a credit to your fine journalism background and see both sides. I highly doubt Mr. Harper respects you very much, he has a hate for the media like no prime minister ever had, why do you think he is so secretive and so bent on these scripted conferences? I think Mr. Dion would be a lot more respectful of you than Harper is. As for the arts, there are a lots more excellent films and arts in Canada done with the funding than the ones you choose to bring up to support your cause.

One thing for sure, the people who lead and support this government are NOT starving like artists too, i.e., Baird, Harper, Green, etc.

djxtreme said...

oliver(doesnt)think. The people mentioned at the end of your vomit laced statement actually work for their money. As most do.

TobyQueSauce said...


Holy F*** is very talented and ... Good. They produce fine art, - important music that has made a difference to scores of people, and is very well respected - and one member of the band is the drummer from another famous, important Canadian band, perhaps you have heard of Blue Rodeo.

It is a shame that you cannot see past a thing so simple as a name.

I do not mind my tax dollars paying for art or artists or even our man's travels to Cuba. Artists show us our world and make our experience of it better, more precious. There is nothing so horrible as to imagine a world run by people like you. Infact, it is apocalyptic. IF we kill art then we end culture and life and essential, ineffable aspects of being human.

It is important and thus a justifiable expense of tax dollars. Paying for this man's trip to Cuba, the lefty as you cal him, may help produce a great work which would be of untold value to Canadians and society.

xiz said...

Why, exactly are so many people concerned about funding artists? Like any other small businesses, artists often need startup funds to get themselves going .. if managed well, the payback could be enormous both in terms of employment created, and in (wait for it .. ) tax revenue.

Success stories such as Toronto's theatre district, Montreal's Just for Laughs festival, Gananoque's Thousand Island Playhouse, Ryerson University's film and theatre program, and even smaller outfits like the Diefenbunker Museum have all repaid the initial investment several times over.

Apparantly, it's quite alright to subsidize, even partially, a handful of millionaires to play a kids' game. But it's quite another thing altogether to help a small business get off the ground.

reidjr said...

A few things

1)As of now arts in canada gets about $5 billion dollars a year.

2)Sports teams get around $500 million a year.

3)I think its good if the small compnany is legit.But to many cases people don't think they need to work and should have there project funded 100%

As with the arts i am all funding it but not for $5 billiona year.Cuts need to be made.Its the same with sports some cuts need to be made.

Anonymous said...

artarcher272, in response to your comment:

The thought of government funding art, especially some art forms that no one except "art lovers" enjoy, is beyond me.

Let's talk about artists and "art lovers", those supposed elite few who have little to do with average Canadian life.

Television. Brought to you by artists trained in acting, directing, film production, writing/literature, public speaking, communications and other performance theater related arts.

Radio. Brought to you by artists trained in vocal performance, writing/literature and communications.

Any graphic art or design. This includes book covers, signs, billboards, print ads and all the brand logos that help you distinguish between the many products you use and/or purchase. Visual artists.

Musicians are artists. Authors are artists. And you know what? It's great when an artist get themselves going and make a living all on their own. But that's rare. Just as it's rare for a motivated business person to get going without financial help.

For every four dollars the government gives to an artist, he or she will turn around and generate twenty-nine dollars for our economy.

That is an investment that benefits all, not just "a few" Canadians.

xiz said...

reidjr :

1) 'Arts' is a huge bucket .. everything from schools to production companies to apprenticeships, to assistance to up-and-coming authors, musicians, etc .. not to mention trades, graphic designers, advertising, management, accounting, etc. To lump it all together is not only misleading, but not really useful.

2) To me, comparing sports funding and arts funding is an apples and oranges comparison. We have, for instance, six professional hockey teams in Canada, one professional soccer team, and eight professional football teams. Beyond that, sports are either amateur, or junior leagues ... all very worthy, but not really the same sort of thing, is it? How many theatre groups are there in Canada? How many film production companies? How many publishing houses? How many music production studios? How many festivals? How many galleries? How many museums?

Maybe there's a reason arts funding is higher than sports?

3) Define 'too many cases'. Out of the absolute total number of applicants for loans, grants and assistance, how many are, in your opinion 'not legit'.

reidjr said...

!ts very simple people who feel they should have there hobby funded.Alot of these people can afford to pay but for what ever reason feel they should not have to.Then you have some who feel they should get hand outs.Yes the legit groups should get funding but the ones that just wanta hand out should not get 100% funding.

2)As with sports these hockey alone there is well over 400 teams.

xiz said...

reidjr : I'm having a hard time understanding what you are trying to argue, here, but I'll give it a shot.

Firstly, there is *no* talk here, save for yourself and a few other misguided posters, and, of course Mr. Green as well who seem to believe that arts funding is all about 'funding people's hobbies'. It's not. Never has been. It's about a vast, multi-billion dollar industry that employs tens of thousands of people. Much like aerospace, and the auto industry who, I might add, have been recent recipients of government funding, and nary a peep of complaint from Mr Green, and other conservatives. Seems a pretty obvious double-standard to me.

Secondly, there may well be over '400 teams' in Canada .. how many actually *employ* people? How many have the potential to grow to become major league teams? How many have the ability to encourage *other* teams to be formed and employ more people?

To me, the whole argument here seems to be 'sports - good, arts - bad', which is about as silly and unsophisticated a discussion as there can be.

artarcher272 said...

Calling the techs that work in radio and TV artist is the same as calling the pilot of an airplane an artist. they are just a trained tech, nothing more.
Yes some of the actors are quite good but they also are trained and went to school to learn. They didn't work any harder to learn their trade than a good plumber or carpenter. Just because they entertain us does not make them any better than us. Culture is what we make of this country, not have a rick mercier or boys in the hall. They are just entertainment not what Canada is all about.
Our soldiers fighting in Afganistan for a better life for Afgans, that is Canadian culture.
Mr. green's radio show is Canadian culture and entertainment.
Some kids that get together to form a band and make a lot of noise is not culture, it is noise.
Actors and artists are just trained entertainers, no better than any other trained group of people, they are not the culure of Canada, we are.
The farmer that works from down to late into the night, he adds culture, as does the policeman and fireman that aids our country to be better for all.

xiz said...

atarcher : You've utterly missed the point. Nobody is calling techs artists, but they are part of the entertainment industry, and as a result, are directly affected by funds available for arts and culture.

Further, the military is *not* culture. It is the military. If anything, it is part of our heritage .. the Canadian War Museum, another institution which would be dramatically affected by funding cuts, is testament to this.

Culture *is* arts .. tell me, without using any sort of reference to arts, music, history, literature, etc. how you'd define, say, the culture of the Maritimes, or the prairies, or the Arctic .. without naming people such as Ashley Macisaac, W.O. Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, Bertold Von Imhoff, or Farley Mowat, it's pretty difficult, isn't it?