Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back to the Barricades

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a good holiday. I spent it either with family, out with friends, working, or being sick. A very mixed bag but I enter the new year feeling very hopeful.

Kent and I are spending time this month planning for upcoming productions and some other organizational changes, of which I hope to share soon.

In the meantime, the world economic crisis continues and not surprisingly, arts are not part of the discussion. In economic downturns, popular forms of art do very well as people are looking for entertainment and escape. This bodes well for the film and television industry. Too bad they've lost export support.

This is when people need arts in their lives. Never is art less "a frill" then in times of trouble. Art can connect people to each other and push back fear. And it's really such a small investment relative to the numbers that are being thrown around for other industries for similar numbers of jobs.

So what can be done? An event has cropped up on Facebook (although I think it would work better as a group) urging people to write to the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, to ensure that arts funding is part of the discussion. This is what I wrote:
I'm concerned that the arts will not included in the upcoming economic stimulus package. I'm sure you've seen the numbers - a small amount of investment in culture has a huge economic impact for a community. And with the arts cuts from last summer not restored, the arts sector has no export support. This is at a time when historically cultural industries have done well.

Please ensure that artists are also provided with economic support. Since many artists support themselves with jobs in the service sector, which has been hit very hard, they are at great risk of falling through the cracks.

If this is something you want to be a part of, either use the feedback form on his website or email him at Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca.

At a time when so much federal money is going to be used as stimulus, it's important that arts stay on the agenda. There is much work to be done.

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