Home News Montrealers demand overturn of arts cuts

Montrealers demand overturn of arts cuts

by Archives September 2, 2008

More than 300 protesters packed the Société des arts technologiques last Wednesday to protest federal cuts to arts and culture funding.
Organized by the Conseil des arts de Montréal and Culture Montreal, two local arts boards, the protest was intended to put pressure on the Conservative government over more than $46 million in cuts to arts funding throughout Canada.
“The federal government could well jeopardize the very balance of communities and deprive them of valuable assets for their competitiveness,” said Simon Brault, chair of Culture Montreal. “This is particularly true in the case of Montreal, which is home to almost half of Quebec’s artists and cultural organizations.”
Organizers said the protest was held with an eye to a possible election, adding that they hoped to make arts funding a central issue in any upcoming campaign.
On hand for the event, Anne Lagacé-Dowson, the NDP candidate in the Westmount Ville-Marie byelection, said recent cuts to national arts funding appears to be a Conservative pre-election ploy.
“This is Mr. Harper throwing a bone to his reform base.”
Among the Conservative cuts were $9 million in reductions to the Trade Routes program, which funded artists’ international travel, and $4.4 billion in reductions to the e-culture, an Internet-based information exchange for researchers and artists.
At the same time, however, funding for major cultural programs like the CBC, the Canada Arts council and the National Gallery has risen by more than $4 billion since the Conservatives came to power in 2006.
As a former CBC journalist, Dowson expressed mixed feelings over Conservative approach to funding arts and the media.
“The CBC was starved for funding for the last 10 years; running without any increase under the Liberals. It needed these increases,” she said.
However, Dowson took less issue with the Conservative cuts to arts funding than with their apparent desire to control which artists the funding reaches.
According to Dowson, the Conservative approach to arts funding is the wrong way to approach government funding.
“Politicians shouldn’t decide what art we support; what is good and bad. Politicians should only set broad policy; bureaucrats should implement it, and expert juries should decide which artists are worthy of funding.”
Dowson said she would prefer to see significant reinvestment by the federal government in both mainstream media and independent arts.
“If you follow the development of the arts across the board, you realize that investment is returned to the economy multiplied [ . . . ] These things start small, at the grassroots, and then bubble up to the rest of us.”

Related Articles

Leave a Comment