Canadian Dopers - Michel Rivard (of Beau Dommage) on the Harper arts cuts

Michel Rivard added this clever bit of satire to the debate on arts cuts. Please enjoy Coupures dans la culture.

That’s not clever. It’s demeaning and embarrassing. It has no basis in reality.

Demeaning and embarrassing to whom?

And as far as having no basis in reality, it just reminded me of the Reform Party and the controversy over ‘Léolo’, the Reform Party wanting Michael Ondaatje to give his Canada Council research grant back when ‘The English Patient’ won the Oscar for Best Film, the Conservatives wanting to cut funding to what they consider controversial films…

Embarrassing and demeaning to those of us in English Canada. I took French in High School and understood maybe 80% of that crap. I’m insulted that certain words were misinterpreted as swear words, and I’m insulted of the way the “English” politicians are portrayed as complete doofuses. Are you kidding me? If the shoe was on l’autre pied there’d be hell to pay. It’s a fucking insult.

Yup, those anglos sure are stupid. :rolleyes:

I totally get where it comes from. Here in Quebec, artists have declared total war against the Conservatives for their plans regarding culture. Conservatives are labeled as * tueurs de culture* (culture killers). And don’t forget that Michel Rivard is a former Rhino candidate from the 70s (his slogan : " A toaster in every home") :smiley:

I call shenanigans.

You do realise that anglo Canada is getting hit hard by the arts funding cuts too, right?

I have friends working in the Toronto arts community, and they’re scared shitless about what’s happening already and what is almost guaranteed to happen under a Tory majority. For one of them, the most profitable job they’ve seen in weeks happens to be the Harper campaign ads. What does that say, exactly?

The only difference is that the French arts community has a long tradition of being pain-in-the-ass agitators, seeing as the majority of them were practically joined at the hip with the separatist movement for a good 20 years or so. They’d have given the same treatment to a franco politician… it’s not like Trudeau was a sacred cow to them, after all.

For once, can we set aside this anglo/franco federalist/separatist bullshit? This is about Canadian culture.

I think that’s a good lampoon of conservative bluster, and there’s no real reason for the raised hackles.

The point would be the same if it were monolingual, and the language difference is an easy device for finding-offense-in-everything-innocent.

Jeez, lighten up. Just because the philistines happen to be ridiculous squareheads…

Heck, some of us from French Canada find it a little over the top. I can see where they were trying to be funny and make a political point about the funding cuts, but as a French-Canadian Montrealer who had rocks thrown at me in the playground because my English was too good, I’m really bothered by this ad.

Wouldn’t it have made more sense for artists of all kinds to get together and speak out against the cuts, showing how it’s affecting everyone, instead of using an attack on the Tory government as a way to raise a little more anti-anglo sentiment?

Yes, I most certainly do realize it is affecting all of us. Québec has been providing some of the more provocative footage, such as the Rivard clip. English Canada has been tending to provide more calm, considered arguments, such as James Bradshaw in the Globe and Mail, or Margaret Atwood in the Globe and Mail today. At least it has become an issue.

I had the thought, as I went to bed last night, that if Stephen Harper wants to establish our sovereignty in the Arctic, he should emphasize the place it has held in our national consciousness for so many years. The paintings Lawren Harris and Tony Onley, the literature of Gabrielle Roy and Pierre Berton, they all reflect our presence there with far less national embarrassment than the forced relocation and abandonment of Innit on Elesmere Island. Can you imagine the effect if he let loose with Stan Roger’s Northwest Passage the next time he’s up north?

Actually, my frustration was mostly directed as Leaffan, who was too busy getting his panties in a bunch over perceived anti-anglo sentiment to see the bigger picture.

I perfectly understand the point Rivard is trying to make… it’s unfortunate he chose to lampoon language differences, since it’s still a sore spot for some folks, but that doesn’t make his message any less valid. Maybe another version of the same commercial with Cronenberg trying to pitch one of his squickier movies to the board (like Crash or Naked Lunch) would resonate better?

I’m a Quebec-born, Ontario-raised franglais mutt. After 30 years, I’m awfully tired of everything eventually degenerating into anglo vs. franco.

Anglo vs. franco is so 20th century. Urban vs. rural is the new black.

:shaking my fist at all those ruros:

And another one - is the Globe and Mail going left? Judith Timson makes an excellent case.

These are all excellent arguments for the importance of arts generally, but that is not the issue under debate - which is the value of government subsidies to the arts.

The problem, from a more right wing POV, is not the value of the arts in general, it is how they are paid for - by government stipend. The feeling is that such payments are not really the best way of producing great and valuable art, but rather are keeping a whole class of people in the style they have become accustomed to - at taxpayer expense; that if such artists were forced to actually compete for customers, they would not succeed; that we are in effect creating and funding much in the way of mediocrity, appealing only to a very limited in-group.

Such sentiments may well be based on faulty information, but there is at least a kernel of truth in them - the arts scene (or at least the “high arts” scene likely to attract subsidies) is somewhat insular and out of touch with mainstream Canadians, and they are paying the political price - for all the sound and fury from the good and the great, cutting arts subsidies carries a low political cost.

Where to begin? Much of the debate focuses on the value of the arts to our society, but that isn’t your question, Malthus. Or at least, my understanding of your question is ‘Yes, arts are valuable, but why does the Government have to pay for them?’

Fair enough - no one else seems to be stepping up to the plate, so I’ll do my best.

First off, let me clarify that for Canadian arts organizations, the government is only one of four sources of revenue. There are also private donations, corporate donations and direct revenues. Because I am speaking generally here, I’m calling it ‘direct revenues’ although it’s different for different disciplines. For theatre, ballet, opera companies, museums, galleries, etc. it is ticket sales. For a publishing house, it’s book sales, for an individual painter, sculptor, playwright, etc., it is the sale of their work.

Direct revenues are not the only source of income for arts groups because it is vital to keep art accessible to as many people as possible. If ticket sales were a theatre company’s only source of revenue, (as but one example) then the admission price would have to be so high as to allow only the richest members of society to see a show. It is partly due to the generosity of donors that arts groups are accessible to all socio-economic strata of our society. I’d love for ticket prices to be cheaper still, but that would depend on the income from the other three sources. At least I can afford a ticket to the Toronto Symphony - the only time I could afford to see the Maple Leafs live was when I sang the anthems. (Nov. 5, 1996. We won, 6-3 against St. Louis)

Donors can be private individuals, groups of individuals, estates… Corporations can be donors as well, and the relationship between what corporate donors want in return for their donation is extremely varied, from the generous, no strings attached gift of cash to offset operating expenses, to ‘sponsorship’, where the corporate donors expect direct benefits, usually in the form of advertising, in exchange for their financial support. In a commercial arrangement, the corporate donor may well expect a financial return on the final product. This is usual in the world of film.

So far, I hope I haven’t said anything to make someone call ‘Cite’. The exact arrangements are so varied from arts group to arts group that it’s very difficult to go into much more detail without fear of contradiction.

The income structure of the average arts organization is like a table with four legs - Government, private corporate and direct revenues combine to meet expenses. Alter one of the legs, and the whole thing has to be altered.

Most arts organizations in Canada are not-for-profit, and registered as charities. (Commercial arts have a different organizational structure, though in many ways, they, too, can benefit from government subsidies.) To clear up some misconceptions -

  1. Arts in Canada are not wholly subsidized by the government.
    *Our annual financial surveys of performing arts organizations demonstrate that 71 per
    cent of their revenues are earned through box office sales and private donations. Only 7
    per cent of funding comes from the federal government.

Arts groups run on a tight enough budget that a change in 7 per cent of overall funding is causing this much concern.

  1. Another public misconception is that government grant money is easy to get -
    *the truth is in theatre, this is how it really works.

We have to compete to get funding in the first place - most programs have a success rate of between 25-40%. We submit an outline of the project, objectives, a budget, and a marketing plan. Government funding can’t be more than 40% of the total in the budget, as a general rule. You have to report at certain milestones while you’re working on the project. After the project is completed, you have to submit an actual budget, attendance figures, any press, samples of marketing, outreach, and promotional materials, and an evaluation of the project which includes a synopsis, evaluation of goals, marketing, names of people involved and what you plan to do if you have a surplus over $100. You’re not eligible for future money until you’ve submitted your report.

After you’ve gotten a few project grants, you become eligible for operation grants, which requires evaluation of your administrative and financial management (your organization has to be governed by a board of directors at this point), reports from the previous fiscal year, and “demonstrate a range of revenue sources on an annual basis, including earned, government and private sector revenues.” On the artistic side, you need to demonstrate the contribution your organization is making in your community and in the wider Canadian theatre community.* MK Piatkowski, The Process of Theatre Funding, One Big Umbrella blog.

I’m still researching, but I haven’t yet found any mention of the Auditor General finding any waste within the Canada Council, nor have I turned up any arts groups who have been caught abusing their charitable donations status. I will try to post if/when I find something definitive. I know it can be very difficult to get a Canada Council grant even with a legitimate project. If someone thinks it would be easy to scam them, all they have to do is try.

  1. One more public misconception is the status of the artists who are concerned. This is a difficult one - if a well-known artist speaks out against arts cuts, it has been perceived as ‘elitist’; if an unknown artist speaks out, he’s a ‘loser who can’t make a living in the real world’.

It isn’t even just the artists - it’s the volunteers, the private donors, the people who sit on boards of arts groups. They donate because they believe passionately that their time, energy and money are going toward making something important happen. They want the government to contribute, too; it’s not just the artists ‘whining at rich galas’.

And finally, why Government should subsidize the arts - because it benefits society as a whole. I must stop there for now…

Further reading -
Economic Argument
The Process of Theatre Funding
Business for the Arts
Research for the Arts - Hill Strategies
Valuing Culture - The Conference Board of Canada
Canada Council for the Arts - Government investments in arts and culture yield very significant returns

A good job too, but with all due respect, you missed the most important document in Canadian arts funding: the Massey Report of 1951. In this document, which is quite large, you find the roots of why Canadian arts are government-funded, why Canadians feel it is important for government to be involved in the arts, and why Canadian arts seem at times to be out of touch with Canadians. From Part I, Chapter 1, “The Nature of the Task”:

Not sure what else I should say here, but no discussion of Canadian arts, and Canadian arts funding, is complete without a reference to the Massey Report. Loved by some, despised by others, this is the document that set the tone for the arts scene we have today.

I’d heard of these videos but hadn’t tried to look them up before. So thanks for this, it’s really funny! To those who are insulted: haven’t you heard of humour before? What is parodied here is the fact that for Quebec artists, trying to convince juries not familiar with Quebec culture to subvention them can be hard, but I guess this can also be extended to any Canadian artist. It also lampoons the socially conservative values of Harper and some in his government. As with any parody, exageration is used to make a point. :rolleyes: to you, really.

And I believe that after making Don Cherry a national icon, anglophones have lost the right to complain about humour that lampoons the other major linguistic group. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you’re interested in Michel Rivard, he is an excellent artist that’s especially known for his music (as said, he’s been part of Beau Dommage and has also had a prolific solo career) but who’s also played in a few movies and television series. I would suggest his album Un trou dans les nuages. I think the character played by Stéphane Rousseau (the guy with glasses and a bowtie) is his “Scott” character. Scott is an anglophone who’s doing his very best to speak French but it always ends up sounding hilarious because of his lack of fluency. I can’t seem to find any clip of this character that’s more than three seconds on the Web, but I did find a long version of the one Ministre linked to. It’s too bad because Rousseau’s usually quite funny in this character (for those who are bilingual, of course).

ETA: watch the long version, the socially conservative judges insult The Beatles in it!

Spoons - I haven’t worked anywhere near that far back yet, but I greatly appreciate that link. Many thanks!