October 9th, 2008
To whom it may concern,
As we enter the final days of the 2008 Federal Election, I would like to offer you some perspective on arts funding in Canada and what you and your party must to do to reaffirm the government’s commitment to culture.
It’s wonderful that arts and culture injects a good deal of money into the Canadian economy, but a country that funds (and later defends) arts primarily based on its economic impact is missing the point. The Harper Conservatives aren’t cutting funding because they don’t see the economic value of arts and culture; they’re cutting because they don’t see its political value. This is political opportunism, an attempt to appeal to rural voters by making urbanites seem gluttonous and wasteful. We can never surrender to these forces of cynicism. Cuts to culture and the arts are an attack on the heart of Canada and we should be enraged.
Any political party looking to capitalize on this folly must promise a full restoration of funding to all effected programs. Furthermore, a party that wishes to prove that it’s interested in more than scoring campaign points should institute a program of regular increases to arts funding each year. Oversight bodies (such as the Canada Council) already exist to ensure that monies are well spent and these bodies must also be overseen to prevent the formation of cliques or closed communities.
This is the moment where a politician can separate themselves from the populists and stand with our greater leaders, people who understood that Canada’s potential cannot nurture itself. Without strong support from the federal government, our art, our culture and our identity will whither and die. You aren’t acting for short-term political advantage, but ensuring the long-term survival of our national identity. This is how legacies are made, both for your party and our great country.