Still plenty of funding for crass, marginalizing comments, it would seem

I would never, ever go so far as to call myself an artist. I write, yes. And once upon a time I thrashed about on pub stages making a mockery of what those with more talent might call bass playing. But an artist I am certainly not.

That being said, though, I certainly believe the arts have a really, really important role to play in defining culture and generally making the world a better place.

And I believe the government should help support artists do their work. Call me a lousy socialist if you want but I like the idea of a few of my tax dollars going to help artists do their jobs. I truly believe it’s in the national interest.

Which is why I am so very bothered by the federal government’s gutting of arts programs.

As this article from the Globe and Mail reveals, the latest expenditure review at Heritage Canada has led to nearly $45 million in cuts to arts programs. Most distressingly, at least from my perspective:

  • The $11.7-million Canadian Memory Fund, which gives federal agencies money to digitize collections and mount them online, is gone.
  • The $2.1-million Northern Distribution Program, which distributes the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network signal to 96 Northern communities, is gone.

And just for good measure, funding has been reduced for the Canada Magazine Fund and the Book Publishing Industry Development Program.

Luckily the new director of communications for Prime Minister Harper has been dispatched to smooth things over.

To listen to some in the arts community and the opposition, you would think that there’s blood in the streets. When we find examples of programs that are clearly not meeting their objectives, without apologies we will cancel them.

Silly artists. Where’s the ROI on preserving historic museum collections and making them available across the country via the web?

For more and better scathe and cynicism, check out Paul Wellsmusings on this topic. He seethes better than I do.

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