05w11:2 More on the Canada Council

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 11 number 2 (More on the Canada Council)

This article by Soloman Fagan came to my attention last night, dealing with the Canada Council controversy, and it made me angrier than I’ve been since this whole thing started last November. I wrote a little rant, which I posted on /commentary, since I figured that none of the readers on the list in the U.S. and elsewhere shouldn’t need to read about it in this space.

But for those readers than, this is what it’s about:

The Canada Council is like the United States’ N.E.A. In my circle, I hear that artists outside of Canada are jealous that we get all these grants, but that’s not true. The Canada Council only supports 8% of those that apply, which means that there are rumours of favouritism and of cliques, and it creates the myth of prestige, so that 3 years after you graduate from artschool, you too can submit your name into this lottery for $3000. If the jury thinks your work is ‘great’, you get your taxable cheque and get to inspire envy and jealousy amongst your peers. Now, the Canada Council wants to change all this. They want to start giving out greater funds to the more established cliques, people who have somehow already been able to manage without their support. Artists who have benefited either from past funding or believe in the prestige-factor, are complaining and writing petitions, seemingly wanting to maintain the system as it is, while fearing future vindictiveness from the Council for opposing its suggested course of action.

Oh Canada!

– Timothy

Art heist | Soloman Fagan
“Remember, the Council’s funding has not increased over the years to keep up with inflation ? but how does cutting developing artists’ funding remedy this? One board member told me ‘sustainability’ was the buzzword in discussions. But the two grants that individual artists can receive in four years could hardly sustain anyone at the old rates, let alone the proposed chopped ones. […] According to Balkan, the Council wants to focus on ‘breakthrough’ artists like Janet Cardiff. While I agree that Cardiff is doing excellent work and deserves support, in the context of the proposed changes her selection raises some disturbing questions. Will we let an international system of biennales determine Canadian cultural value rather than Canadians themselves? Is an artistic criterion being established that equates technological progress with cultural value? […] Apparently, one of the rationales for the drastic reallocation of funding to ‘senior’ artists is the high cost of producing pieces like Cardiff’s. This is art on the scale promoted by the international system in which countries send their representatives for collective mega-exhibitions. Here, full-room ‘installations’ of live nude female models or live tropical butterflies, à la Vanessa Beecroft, Matthew Barney or Damien Hirst, can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce. How can Canadian artists, with a current meagre $34,000 in the senior category, ‘compete’ with those who can mount works of such magnitude? While gigantism and expensive technologies are all the rage at large exhibits, it’s unclear how promoting Canada as a ‘global competitor’ in the culture wars will benefit anyone here at home. Perhaps the idea is to garner established artists a higher profile and thereby raise the status of the discipline nationwide, hoping this will ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us. But this is hypothetical. It’s the young and less privileged artists who will suffer the financial brunt of the experiment.”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 14 March 2005 @ 2:04 PM

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