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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Artful Question

This post can also be found at

This blog may not agree with some of you out there. I'm usually the kind of person who likes warm, fuzzy blogs, but today this one isn't going to be like that. So read on at your own peril.
Both the United States and Canada are facing national elections, but here in Canada, one of our issues is arts funding. I live near an excellent university and because of that, I have ample opportunity to enjoy their arts' programs. I love them.
In some ways, I, too, am an artist, a writer who is blessed enough to get paid for her work. But here in Canada, we have people saying more funding must go into our arts and culture program.
Stop a moment. We also have gun violence in Toronto, an Arctic in crisis, and the working poor whose children are going hungry. We have natives who struggle to survive, and a country with a wildly growing dependence on fossil fuels.
Canada also has a global conscience, seeing the poor of other countries, the oppressed and those suffering under terrorist regimes. Canada has a responsibility to support those countries who want to end the global crises.
How can I sit in a comfortable seat in an auditorium enjoying the arts when this is happening? How can I justify saying that my government should support these programs when the burden of helping our own Canadians and the poor around the world is so great?
Some people may say that this is our culture, to have quality music, fine visual arts, and incredible talent.
No. When our poor and our native populations and environment are in crisis, this becomes our culture.
Our culture is our poor, and oppressed, and how we deal with them.
How we deal with the less fortunate is the true measure of ourselves. How are we dealing with them? It's not just a nationally elected body's responsibility, but an individual responsibility, too. How am I helping the poor, the environment, our supply of fresh drinking water?
How are you? What are you, personally, doing to change the culture that has been thrust upon us in the world's eyes? What am I doing?
Let us be able to watch that symphonic band's newest recital with clear consciences.


Deb Maher said...

A very thoughtful post, Barbara. Much food for thought.

I'm sure Canadians witness our overspending here in the U.S. But it's not only our Federal Government. Locally and personally it goes on daily. I think that until people learn to control their own spending, they'll never hold government accountable.

Spending for the arts is a tough question. The arts civilize us. They bring hope and let us dream.

Our second President, John Adams, said:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

Seems the problem is we've been far to slow to get beyond the politics and war part.

On another topic, I really enjoyed meeting you at the KOD Retreat this weekend! Please stay in touch.

Barbara Phinney said...

Deb, like you said, food for thought. I want us to remember our poor during election times. But like you say, it's a tough quesiton. I listened to a man on the radio talk about wanting to be a photographer and how the government refused to support him. This man had just spend $1500printing out 6 photographs and wanted the government to reimburse him.
I cannot justify supporting him.
And like you, it was good to meet everyone at the retreat. It was the perfect size, as far as I'm concerned.