Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog #1: Push and Arts Funding

With the newspapers buzzing about the recent budget proposals in both our provincial and federal legislature, I can't help but think back to the PUSH festival. I'll admit, I'm usually not hyperactively keen on political news, nor especially interested in making politically-charged observations, but when 3 out of 4 shows opened with a gentle arts supporter stating that "The provincial government is planning on making huge cuts to arts funding... about 90%," I can do nothing but develop my own opinion. Sitting in the audience as I was the first time it was announced, I distinctly remember booing along with the crowd, metaphorically shaking my fist in protest to that horrible right-wing government that only cared about investing in money and never in culture... and how horrible they were to do that! We truly were becoming more and more like the dreaded United States.

As always, everything seems a bit more focussed in hindsight. The 2010 budgets were presented and the BC budget most certainly did not cut arts funding by 90%. (Thinking back now, I might've misheard the whole time and they were really saying 19%...just an afterthought.) But, of course, people are still outraged. It's funny though, because I'm not. In all truthfulness, I think they could've cut arts funding even more. considering that we are only now slowing working our way out of a depression, that company after company in northern BC closed down forever because of financial hardship, that cuts are being made to social services, and that still no plans for sustainably and effectively combating homelessness are in place, I think that anyone that complains about arts funding really has their priorities out of place.

Art has always prospered, with government funding or not. And as much as I know that arts and culture are a fundamental part of society and truly are a worthy investment, I can't help but think that people ought to have health, and shelter, and ought to be supported by the community around them. Because as much as stage performances and art exhibits define humanity, doesn't humanity itself do it more so?

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