There’s been an interesting story coming out of Canada over the last few days and it is unfortunately negative news for a lot of touring bands that come from the great white north. PromArt is a funding program for artists who seek to share their form in the international community with the purpose of spreading Canada’s culture across the globe. It offsets costs of touring internationally and a notable recipient was Holy Fuck in 2006 who used the grant to tour in the U.K. The band is now being named in press releases by the government explaining the reasons behind the retrenchment.
The program, which has helped give us a lot of great bands from Canada, was recently cut by the Conservative Tory government. In addition to the $4.7M PromArt program, a $9M program called Trade Routes was cut as well. Trade Routes funded cultural entrepreneurs who sought to develop export strategies for Canadian arts. Both of these pull backs are harmful to the entire arts community in Canada but is woeful because it sets a precedent of de-facto censorship and puts our neighbors to the north on a slippery slope.
Canada’s Leader Post covered the story well with some interesting quotes from an anonymous government official. In one notable instance he rationalizes the cutback, “I think there’s a reasonable expectation by taxpayers that they won’t fund the world travel of wealthy rock stars, ideological activists or fringe and alternative groups.”
Wealthy rock stars aside, it is fringe groups and ideological activists that help to promote new thought and keep the rest of society from falling into the monotony of state sponsorship. Free societies should have these devices as their disposal and Canada was progressive to fund them with government money. But now, arguments coming from the government seem to be entirely based upon the fact that the artists are outside of their notion of mainstream art. That is entirely disappointing.
From an economic perspective the funds helped Canadian artist compete on an international stage, which generated revenues for the country’s entertainment industry and most likely the country as a whole. From my musical point of view Canada was competing on a grand scale. The list of successful Canadian bands is presently great and their artistic credibility is deep. Though now, the spigot may have been turned off. The music industry, which is suffering generally, took a blow from this move by Canada.
For more information on this story check out some of these article and editorials: