Yesterday, across our chain, I advocated that the federal government ought to preserve — and possibly even enhance — financial support for Canada's cultural economy:
The first — but not best — reason is this kind of spending is good for the country’s bottom line. That’s right: Every dollar spent on the arts is worth many more dollars in economic activity and increased tax revenue for multiple levels of government.
But the second and best reason for a federal government to invest is because this is what great nations do and, if I’ve heard Stephen Harper say it once, I’ve heard him say it a hundred times, he believes Canada is a great nation that can be greater. And funding the arts is one important step on the path to greatness.
[Read the whole column]
I was pleased to see a surprising number of e-mails from our readers endorsing this view. Here's two:
I just wanted to send you a note to thank you for your recent article on “great countries are art smart”. It was very clear and in my opinion a very accurate portrait of the importance and effect art has for a country. I don't normally agree with Sun Media commentaries but in this case I was surprised and please to see the arguments in support of art described in the language and context that conservative thinkers can readily understand. It has taught me to alter my comments when talking to people that see art as a luxury we can I'll afford at anytime but especially during a down turn in the economy (there is always an economic downturn or crisis somewhere that make we Canadians think twice about economic support to our country)
I live in Winnipeg and right now there is a vital art scene here with many high profile art being produced and sold internationally. Not only with known artists but with very talented minor artists that are finally finding their way and finding some economic success. I think this development in Winnipeg has a direct correlation with the steady economic growth of our city. When people come here, they are always surprised to see such growth and prosperity which I think has a lot to do with the development of the arts culture here. Even during slower growth the arts community keeps on dragging our mainly conservative population and businesses, encouraging innovation and showing the way to cultural and economic prosperity.
Your article captured what is currently happening in Winnipeg and the message needs to be repeated till all Canadians understand the connection between culture and prosperity.
Thank you SO much for this editorial. Our city, Woodstock, is right now in a bitter conflict over our art gallery. The federal and provincial government DID do the right thing and provide us with grant money to build a new gallery, but our mayor, who was previously on council and voted against the project, is now trying to stop it.
The gallery building has been renovated and is now a state of the art gallery and 2 weeks before art was to be transferred, he offered the building to Fanshawe College as a satellite campus. He is letting the building sit empty and is willing to leave it that way until Fanshawe and the governments make a decision. There are 2 problems here. Fanshawe already has a campus in town (its main campus is in London) and their grant request to expand last year was refused at the provincial level. The second problem is the existing gallery is not fully accessible, not climate controlled, not big enough for the programs and classes they want to give, and is unable to accept donations from patrons because of lack of space. We have an impressive collection of Florence Carlyle paintings – she is from Woodstock – that is gaining value now, with inappropriate conditions to maintain its integrity.
The mayor is attempting to have the grant money transferred from culture to education. So here is an example of the right thing being done, and a short sighted municipal government making every attempt possible to stop it. If you have any ideas as to what action gallery supporters can take to get the new building open, I'd love to hear from you.
I'd also like to photocopy your editorial and flood the city with it if I may.
Thanks again for your inadvertent support!