A Great Nation’s Art

Canada’s CEO, Stephen Harper has sparked a culture war in the federal election campaign with a claim that “ordinary people” don’t care about arts funding.

We at the Café could understand the Harperian logic of $45 million in cuts to arts and culture funding where less efficient heritage arts programs (as determined by his bean-counters and their economic models) were being trimmed. And we might ask where that money is now going – perhaps to arts ventures with better ROI? To the Calgary Stampede, more likely.

In a bizarre statement yesterday, the Conservative leader and populist hockey dad sans lipstick said average Canadians have no sympathy for “rich” artists who gather at galas to whine about their grants.

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people at, you know, a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough, when they know those subsidies have actually gone up – I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people.”

He shrugged off his opponents as elitists preoccupied by “a niche issue.”

Rejecting Harper’s suggestion artists are privileged, Liberal Party leader, Stéphane Dion said their average wage is $23,000 a year.

In a play on the Conservative Party’s French name, an electronic NDP ad running in Montreal’s subway system shows a “Conservateur” logo evolving into “Conserva-tueur de la culture,” or “culture killer.”

Story at Canada’s national rag (don’t miss the comments!), the Globe and Mail

This beleaguered taxpayer is happy to buy some artist a glass of wine, as opposed to the government and corporate collectives where most of our tax dollars get squandered. At least we are not bailing out the Wall Street porkers.

Image: Poor Artist’s Cupboard, Charles Bird King, 1815

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