Why am I painting this miserable picture? Because it's election time...
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Now that the lovely haze of World Theatre Day has lifted, the last Tweet of CharPo's second TweeAtre event passed, the happy vids (including ours) watched, it's back to the real world.
It's not a pleasant place: the chaos in Libya, the horrors of Japan...survival, what? Though we are not fleeing a despot's bullets, nor waiting for a nuclear plant to irradiate us, Canadians we all know - especially artists - also fight for survival. It is not a day to day fight to live; rather it is a (sometimes) an endless grind to do not only what we want but also what is necessary to any democracy: the various expression of ideas in the form of art. Artists, simply, create the breath of a nation. Collectively, they define a people and—especially here in Canada—one by one, their voices are leaving the collective choir for jobs to feed the children, to pay the rent, to eat, even. This is no exaggeration.
...artists are the most impoverished of the working poor...
According a 2009 report from Hill Strategies in Hamilton, Ont., created for the Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts there are more artists in the country than autoworkers but when did you see a multi-billion dollar bailout for the arts industry? The same report says artists are the most impoverished of the working poor. Yet they work without the safety net of EI and when things go bad, it's straight to welfare and its $580-some-odd a month.
Why am I painting this miserable picture? Because it's election time and the only way we can change this scandalous situation (short of running for office - and winning). The problem is that we have no party in this country that is screaming - and I mean FUCKING SCREAMING!! - about the state of the arts and the lot of artists in this country.
What's left? The sorriest pack o' political mongrels you've ever seen.
The Conservatives, with their parade of half-arsed culture czars have proven over and over again that they think art is some faggoty conspiracy and artists the enemy of all that is white and Christian. (Remember Harper's quote during the last election's debates: "I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala and all sorts of people at a rich gala all subsidized by the taxpayer, claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know they have actually gone up [this was a lie], I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people." The "ordinary people" coding is a master stroke, don't you think?)
The Bloc, simply will never waste a drop of sweat protecting MELT. Fine...perhaps that's not what they're there for. Fuck 'em and their pie-in-the-sky dreams while we literally starve.
What's left? (Forgive the sad pun.)
The sorriest pack o' political mongrels you've ever seen. On one hand we have the toothless Liberals, and on the other, the yipping NDP. Neither of them has heretofore expressed a vision of the arts that inspires artists and motivates Canadians to support them.
The NDP? Bottom line is they promise to end poverty—the average artist's lot—by 2020.
Have a look at the Liberal's promises this time out: "Steps we will take to promote Canada’s arts, culture, film and television industries include: Doubling funding to the Canada Council for the Arts; Restoring and increasing funding to the Trade Routes and PromArt programs that showcase Canadian culture on the world stage; Guaranteeing stable funding to CBC/Radio-Canada." Lordie, I wish I was running against this policy; where will this magic money come from and how about bottom-line funding for individuals who don't have cronies at the CBC, the Council and who are creating new work outside of these staid little boxes.
The NDP? Bottom line is they promise to end poverty - the average artist's lot - by 2020. But they flesh it out with a little less pie-in-the-sky than the Liberals' vagu-eries. Their policy also has an eye on new technologies and they intend to protect net neutrality (a crucial aspect of arts development, its dissemination and future).
Now wouldn't it be nice if they could win. However, the chances are great that we'll have another minority government and it's never a bad idea to have a nasty yipper in the pack of political running dogs.
Ask my Jack Russell, Leo.