Goodbye, Toronto. Hej, Göteborg.
What’s going on‽
I’ve not been dormant, just busy: moving apartments, planning life after work, calming down.
It was, I must say, awesome. Zen is a great musician, Tanso is working on same amazing initiatives to promote contemporary Chinese art in Toronto, and the Art Lounge is a great little venue. There’s live video and audio of the event on the SoundReach page.
It looks like I’ll be having a piece at the fourth Electric Eclectics festival in Meaford, Ontario. If you live in Ontario, you really ought to check out this festival. I’ll be doing a bike–sound piece that I’ve been working on for the past few months. Think generator-powered Atari Punk Console tandem.
Also, I’m working on a piece with Dafydd Hughes and Karlen Chang for a large upcoming Toronto art festival. I’m not sure if information is public yet, but take a guess and there’s a 50% chance you’ve picked the right festival. It’ll be turning a downtown plaza into a huge music controller. It’ll also be awesome.
You may have heard recently that a lot of artists are upset that the current Canadian government is taking money away from them. You may not even like the arts and think that it’s about time the artists stopped taking what you feel is government welfare.
This subject is very dear to me. I edit a music magazine, I make music and art, I get paid for all of these things, and I pay taxes. I thought that I would share with all of you what I feel are the specifics about the recent actions of the current government so that you can celebrate my birthday by voting.
You might say…
I don’t even like the arts
I don’t even like some of the arts. But bear in mind that the cuts don’t just affect things like confusing performance art or obscure poetry that only uses one vowel. This also represents documentaries and feature films such as Bon Cop, Bad Cop and Fido—remember? those were good movies—and music like The Arcade Fire and Nickelback.
I still don’t like the arts
It’s not about the arts. The problem is that the current government, who was previously elected on a platform of transparency and disclosure, has given no reasons for the cuts other than “people don’t want them.”
No reports have been provided to show that the money was being misspent. These cuts seem to have come out of nowhere, not placed within any larger framework for arts and culture funding. It would seem a strange thing to yank subsidies out of a multi-billion-dollar industry without giving any reasons.
Right now the government is cutting money from something you don’t care about without giving a reason. How will you feel when they cut money from something you do care about, and give no reason?
The arts should be able to stand on their own in the market without subsidy, like other industries
The government is only cutting funding for the arts abroad
This is true for now. What this means is that the arts no longer have the ability to make a market for themselves outside of Canada. They can make their work here, and then what? Where is it going to go?
As an arts administrator told me: It’s like building a power station without building the power lines.
The current government claims to have increased arts funding
I suggest you read this article by James Bradshaw for the Globe and Mail. The current government has broadened its definition of “culture” so that money can be diverted from the arts into things like community sports.
Community sports are important and deserve funding increases. But funding to the arts is decreasing.
The current government has also gone back on pre-campaign promises to increase funding to the Canada Council for the Arts to at least match inflation.
Which brings me to my last point…
Artists are always going to galas and stuff. They’re rich.
Most artists I know live only slightly above poverty. From what I know of my colleagues, I would guess that the average salary of artists and arts workers is $30k/year without benefits. If you read the comments to this post apparently the real number is much, much lower. These are well-educated people often with multiple university degrees and living in one of the most costly cities in Canada.
There is a reason that I eat as much of the free food as possible when I’m lucky enough to get invited to an event.
So remember, this isn’t about whether or not you like the arts. This is about a government that makes decisions without consultation and without explanation.
You may still not like the arts, but don’t you at least want a government that answers to its people?