05w28:1 Four Years Later

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 28 number 1 (four years later)


Mike Harris and the arts | Robert Fulford
“It is a truth universally acknowledged among artists in Toronto that Premier Mike Harris has wrecked the cultural life of Ontario. This opinion must baffle newspaper readers elsewhere in Canada. On the one hand, Ontario artists seem to spend their time accepting prizes, signing big contracts, and bragging about their international success; on the other, they claim they are living in dark times, starved by a mean, vicious government. The consensus in the cultural community is simple: We must live in hope that some day Harris will be defeated so that his successor can bring back the creative policies of the pre-Harris years, when sympathetic governments vigorously encouraged the arts. It happens that this is nonsense, but it is popular nonsense. In some Toronto circles, it is more or less mandatory. Artists holding contrary ideas usually remain silent, to avoid being condemned for heresy. […] We who favour arts funding claim that most artists of all kinds have been subsidized through most of history. True. But that doesn’t mean government decisions determine the health of the arts. When Russians were writing the great novels of the 19th century, the czars were not literary patrons. When the Impressionists in Paris were producing the best paintings of the 19th century, the French government played no part. Canadians spend so much time talking about cultural policy that we think it more important than it is. Government can help, and should, but arts policies and the arts are not the same and often don’t run on parallel tracks. Looking clearly at what has happened to the arts in the Age of Harris might help us to think about these questions with less hysteria and more, uh, common sense. “Article Date, 10 July 2001

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 11 July 2005 @ 11:07 PM

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