The following are Globe and Mail Letters to the Editor in response to the recent Federal cultural program cuts.
Given the censorship elements of Bill C-10 (involving the denial of tax credits to film and television productions), followed by almost zero recognition of the Canadian arts and culture sector in the 2008-09 federal budget, it is hard to interpret the PromArt and Trade Routes cuts as anything but the latest move in an ideological attack on the arts (Ottawa Axes Second Arts Subsidy In Two Weeks - Aug. 11).
Your editorial The Arts Belong In Foreign Policy (Aug. 11) defends the mandate of the Foreign Affairs program to promote Canadian culture, interests and values. But you criticize ''political ventures that have nothing to do with arts,'' citing a grant made to the North-South Institute to organize a conference in Havana. This event, supported by Foreign Affairs, brought together a number of experts from the hemisphere (including Argentina, Haiti, Jamaica and the U.S., as well as Canada) with Cuban academics to discuss issues relating to regional security and foreign direct investment in the Caribbean.
For nine years (1987-96), I was the Canadian consulate's political, economic and public affairs officer for Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia. From the time our Cincinnati office opened to the day the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade closed it in 1996, we used Canadian artists to promote Canada's political and economic mission.
Ottawa's decision to cancel two successful cultural programs demonstrates a troubling lack of recognition of the vital role played by the arts in Canada's economy and in its international presence. Recent research by the Conference Board of Canada shows the strong impact of cultural programs on the economies of developed nations. At a time when Canadian culture is being recognized on the world stage for its variety of creative expressions, including critical and experimental voices, Ottawa should be investing more, not less, in programs that increase our country's cultural profile and its competitiveness in business, trade, tourism and immigration.
I'm reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill in response to a request to cut arts funding during the Second World War: ''If we cut funding for the arts and culture, then what are we fighting for''
Dismantling the infrastructure that supported the export of Canadian ideas and talent around the world must be Stephen Harper's way to ''stand up for Canada.''
© The Globe and Mail 2008
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