Friday, September 12, 2008

Harper plays egotistical tune on arts cuts

Looks like more boneheaded strategy on spinning the $45 million in arts cuts this morning: "Harper plays populist tune on arts cuts." Seems the Conservative brain trust, aka Harper himself, has decided that the best way to mitigate the political impact of the controversial cuts is to have Mr. Harper drone on about his piano playing youth and a life-long passion for music. Which kind of flies in the face of the manner in which these cuts were executed. You'd think someone with such a supposed passion for the arts would have some compassion and sense about how to institute changes to arts programmes and funding then if he cares so much. None of that's been evident, however, from his government, and instead, it's a flat out accounting matter that makes his life story rather irrelevant:
He also disputed the characterization that his government has broadly “cut the arts,” saying that net spending on arts and culture has increased. But he said he is willing to accept criticism for deciding that $45-million in programs deemed not to be priorities be reduced or eliminated, launching a veiled barb at his political opponents.

“There are some people who say, ‘Well, it isn't good enough to increase funding for the arts, you have to increase funding for every single program.' My simple response is that no responsible government can manage the government that way. You have to select priorities and you have to make choices,” he said.
See? It's all very simple, choose and axe. But hey, he loves him some piano.

There's audio that accompanies the article too, so you can hear the matter of fact tone, bordering on know it all, in Mr. Harper's voice. As for all the detail about his life in music...it's too forced and practically speaking, his personal appetite for music is not germane to the cuts. Why must everything be about Stephen Harper?

And again, if he loves the arts as he professes, act like it. Don't axe programmes without a word to those involved. Consultations. Engagement. Respect. Those are some concepts to consider.

Looking forward to what the arts communities across the country will have to say about this bit of psychodrama damage control.