Arts Advocacy: Canada

Recently, I got into quite a rant about an interview by Krista Erickson with Margie Gillis, a well-established, seasoned and important Canadian dancer and arts advocate.  I’ve since, settled down and I’m enjoying a variety of responses by Canadians who run the gamut from one political/social extreme to the other.  I like to NOT get into stereotypes or negative references in order to defend my  position on Canada Council Grants and the place of fine arts in Canada.  However, I’ve read many references to the LEFT and the RIGHT during this discussion, not really seeing that these labels are effective in the discussion OR even relevant.

I’m not posting the SunNews interview that got this ball rolling; I will leave this up to the reader to ‘google’.  I don’t want this particular link on my blog as it doesn’t represent my way of ‘doing things’.  I thought that this Winnipeg dancer did an awesome job responding to the interview and she articulates the ‘truth’ that the arts RETURN to Canada, economically, socially and spiritually!

On one of the facebook discussion threads, Jane Alison McKinney has stated,

‘I’m not sure what “suck off the Tax Payer” means, since artists are tax payers but here are some facts.

In 2007, The Conference Board estimated that the economic footprint of Canada’s culture sector was $84.6 billion, or 7.4 per cent of Canada’s total real GDP, including direct, indirect, and induced contributions. Culture sector employment exceeded 1.1 million jobs in 2007, so about 7 per cent of the workforce

According to Canadian Heritage, the federal cultural funding totals “$1.51 billion for the fiscal years from 2010 to 2015”, which amounts to an average of about $300 million a year. (Canadian Heritage – News Releases/ Statements. 2009.)

The Canadian federal budget expenditures totaled $276 billion in 2010.

So, as you can see artists are not “leeches.” The government invests a small amount (about 0.1087% of the total budget) in art and then art gives back to the economy. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion however having an opinion like, we don’t benefit from the arts, is kind of like having an opinion that 1 plus 1 equals 5. You are free to say it, but people will probably tell you that you’re wrong.’

My own daughter is the writer for Alberta Dance Collectors and has been intensely involved with dance and movement since she was a wee girl, competing in National level Rhythmic Gymnastics.  She has danced and choreographed in the city of Calgary, but without real payment.  The dedication and work ethic of dancers is so devalued in our society!  To see opposition to arts funding in Canada,  exposes a root problem in how we view a diverse society with many facets.  It is important that we educate ourselves about how the arts benefit both the individual and the collective!

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