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Culture: The Conservatives keep on cutting selon Pablo Rodriguez

December 14, 2009

Ottawa (Ontario) Canada

Pablo Rodriguez, photo : Parti libéral du Canada

Culture: The Conservatives keep on cutting
Pablo Rodriguez, Liberal Critic for Canadian Heritage
 
In keeping with their ideological aims, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have once again attacked the arts, this time cutting the Canadian Musical Diversity Program. According to Conservatives, only popular, that is, profitable music deserves encouragement. By this way of thinking, classical, folk, jazz, and experimental music are promptly relegated to the background. More concretely, it means hundreds of Canadian artists will not receive precious funding from the government to help them record and distribute their work.
 
A few days ago, after hearing the testimony of many Canadians, including artists themselves, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage presented a report on the subject, in which the three parties of the Opposition called on the government to re-establish the necessary funding to specialized music by reintegrating the Canadian Musical Diversity component into the Canada Music Fund.
 
As many artists pointed out during the committee hearings, musical culture is an ecosystem in which specialized music is an important part. Specialized music artists innovate, research, discover, and develop new music, fuelling this country’s entire musical production with its creativity. This is why the importance of specialized music goes beyond simple entertainment, as emphasized by the Canada Council for the Arts.
 
Of course, popular music support is still important, and popular music artists need support to break into new digital and international markets. But this support cannot be given at the expense of specialized music – even more so considering we are not talking about large sums of money.  The Canadian Musical Diversity component had a $1.3 million budget, which translated to crucial grants for about a hundred artists per year. This support helped many of them burst onto the music scene, both here and abroad.
 
1.3 million dollars. Is it really too much to ask considering that the Conservatives are spending some $100 million to promote their Economic Action Plan? Clearly, the Harper government would rather spend one hundred times more money on its own self-promotion with signs and giant cheques than support artists in the alternative music scene.
 
We’ve come to expect this from a government that believes that culture must submit to its partisan ideology. Let us recall Bill C-10, which sought to censor movies deemed “contrary to public policy” by revoking their funding.  Let us recall the outrageous and unjustified $45 million cuts to cultural programming. Let us recall how the Conservatives showed absolutely no compassion and refused to help Radio-Canada get through a difficult economic time which saw the dismissal of 800 employees.

We see right through Stephen Harper’s public relations strategy. This is the same man who less than a year ago, called artists spoiled rich children. Let us hope that this time around, the government will listen to the three opposition parties and the large majority of people who came to testify before the parliamentary committee, and that it will agree to 1) restore the Canada Music Fund’s Canadian Musical Diversity component in its entirety, and 2) allocate additional funding to the Canada Council for the Arts so it can continue to support artists through its grant programs for the recording and distribution of specialized music.

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