Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More Cuts to Culture: Wouldn't Mussolini Be Proud?

First of all, I resent the idea that classical and contemporary “serious” music as well as jazz represent “specialized music.” Second, I’m infuriated by the supposition that commericial success—which, alas, comes too often from appealing to the lowest common denominator—is what a country’s culture should be. And thirdly, I just don’t know what the current Conservative government is doing except trying to dumb Canada down so far that we all are easy prey for misinformation and general idealogical manipulation.

The occasion for this rant is the recent realization that the Canadian Musical Diversity element of the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages' Canada Music Fund has just been eliminated. The cuts, effective next spring, aren’t great in the grand scheme of things--$1 million for grants to artists and small record companies. The money saved will be deployed for digital production and other ways of delivering music, according to government spokepersons. No big thing, in other words.

Maybe. But given this government’s track record—particularly its cuts to arts promotion, and its pressure on the CBC to eliminate anything “serious” which is having disastrous effects on writers, music and musicians—I’m very suspicious. As Mussolini supposedly said: “When I hear the word culture, I take out my pistol.” That’s what it looks like in this case too.

Check out the petition here.

Thanks to André Loiseau for the quote which he included in his comment on Le Devoir’s story.

Ulp! Further to this, I finally tracked down the quote, and it wasn't Mussolini, but a quote from a play which was a favourite of Hitler's and which Göring used frequently: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" which means "When I hear "culture" I release the safety catch on my Browning!" Same difference, though, don't you think?


Martin Langeland said...

Don't you hate how apt and, at the same time, wrong footed the zeitgeist can be?
Or: If I find myself agreeing with my enemies does that suggest I am wrong? Or that my friends are wrong?

Mary Soderstrom said...

Are you saying that the word "culture" is bothersome, Martin?

I tend not to like the distinction between "high" and "low" culture, and think the concert series at Jardin d'art et coiffure I wrote about on Friday is a great example of blending points of view and venues. But in a small country like Canada particularly, it makes good sense in terms of identity as well as economics to support various kinds of "culture" like classical music etc