Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moore bizarro arts funding

Le Devoir has been reporting this week on the latest arts funding paradox from Mr. Moore's Heritage department. Since the English media seems to be absent on this, let me assist. If I am understanding this little bit of strategery correctly, it goes something like this.

In the recent past, Ottawa has provided funds for artists such as orchestras, dance troupes, theater, circus and other performing artists to travel overseas through the "Prom'Art" and "Trade Routes" programmes. Those programmes were abolished by the Conservatives as of April 1st, in the infamous arts cuts that arguably cost them support in Quebec and therefore a shot at a majority government in the last election. Nothing has replaced these programmes.

Now along comes the time of year when an annual arts festival takes place where a given province's artists are featured at a showcase festival in Ottawa ("BC Scene" starts April 21) and "producers, buyers and talent scouts" come from around the world to see Canadian artists perform and to perhaps offer them performing contracts for overseas locales. Our federal government is even paying $300,000 to help bring the talent scouts here and is funding the event to the tune of $2 million. The kicker, though, is that the arts groups performing no longer have federal funding support for any foreign gigs they might get offered out of the showcase festival, the whole point of it taking place in the first place. Additionally, the $2 million being spent on this 13 day event comes close to the $2.8 million for performing arts that Ottawa previously spent out of the entire $4.1 Prom'Art programme to help artists promote their work overseas. Kicker #3, this year's featured province, B.C., home province of the Minister. Shoot ourselves in the foot much?

Responses from Moore's office when questioned on the "beautiful paradox," have been, well, non-responsive.

Le Devoir entitled one column on the matter, "Le bal des inepties Culture," or "The ball of nonsense." Think that about says it all.

Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen...