Monday, September 15, 2008

It's Time to Make the Case for Culture

With election fever riling folks up on both sides of the border, and with Read Alberta Magazines Month just around the corner in October, a panel of artists told the CBC cultural affairs show Q that it's time for Canadian artists to "make the case for culture" in our country.

"The question comes down to how we can as artists make the case to Canadians that the arts deserves healthy vigorous funding," S. Randy Boyagoda, a novelist and a professor of literature based at Ryerson University, said on Thursday.

With over $44 million in cuts to arts funding announced by the federal conservatives, it seems that now, more than ever, artists and those working in the cultural industry need to persuade fellow Canadians that funding for arts and cultural programs is integral to support a healthy and thriving Canadian cultural identity and society.

None of the federal parties have released their platforms on arts and cultural funding, so it's time for artists, writers, publishers, actors, filmmakers, and anyone and everyone who values arts and culture in this country to step up and put pressure on electoral candidates to finalize their policies about the arts.

Gregory Elgstrand, a visual arts curator and member of the group Department of Culture, a Toronto-based organization formed to fight arts cuts, says arguments about culture's contribution to GDP are too abstract.

"It's absolutely critical we get into that process and that artists use the skills and the experiences and the creative faculties that they have to engage with people in their communities and that's one of things we want to set up," he said.

"This not just about money. What we’ve seen in this round of cuts … is the disappearance of programs ... Once these programs are gone, throwing more money at nothing is not going to produce anything," he added.

To read the full online CBC article go to