Monday, September 29, 2008

More Articles about the Fallout of Harper`s Comments

This was sent to me by a friend:

1. Margaret Atwood's thoughts on the arts in Canada.

2. Here is a brilliant letter as sent to,,

Dear Mr. Harper,
I have made my living as an actress for over 40 years - had kids, have a mortgage, pay taxes. I have always been proud of my job, and honoured to be part of the entertainment industry. I had not realised I was part of the hundreds and thousands of "government-backed whiners". I hadn't realised how insidious we are.

To my and your horror, one of your ads has music - composed by a government-backed whiner? Did an art director choose the location to shoot in, the colour of your clothes, did a director shoot the commercial? Was a cameraperson involved? More government-backed whiners. I'll call them gbw's. You mentioned "ordinary" Canadians coming home and turning on the TV (rife with gbw's). You have spoken of going to a movie with your son (corrupting him to see gbw's in action). To protect yourself, please remove all art from the walls of your home and office, throw out any DVD players, Blue-ray machines, TVs. If your son has an i-pod, get rid of it (gbw musicians). Destroy all pottery, stained glass, never go to a festival, avoid bookstores, block all music from your car, read nothing, avoid plays, musicals, concerts.

We are everywhere. And, to avoid gbw's, could you suggest what the tourist industry should recommend people do when they come to Canada, or are they just collateral damage? You have attempted to belittle my life, my work, my community.

Shame on you.
Linda Goranson

3. And, related… from the globe and mail…

Financial Stability in the Arts: Preliminary Results

These are some preliminary results. The total of respondents this morning was 121. The most striking thing to me was the number of respondents that said they made less than $10 000 a year from professional arts income. It was about 40% of the total respondents. The sample set contains a wide variety of arts workers include those in print, visual, film and live media. I have upgraded the account so I can collect a total of 1000 responses. Keep em' coming!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update: Arts Survey

Well, as of this morning, 60 people have participated in the survey in the first day. Not bad at all. They seem to be from a wide spectrum of disciplines and all have completed the entire survey - well, there are only 10 questions so its not too hard really.

The most shocking thing for me are the stories that people are sharing in the comment section. I was not sure what to expect from this section but what has resulted has been mind blowing. The survey really has two components, a data section where I can quantify the financial scope of participants and story-telling section, which as artists is our forte and can be much more visceral than cold data. The stories have been stirring and powerful and are covering areas that we don't often discuss as artists. We have all been a part of conversations where we complain about lack of funding or the lack of work or rent being due but that is where it stops most of the time.

The Stories being tendered to the survey include both philosophy and hardships but the most common aspect is a commitment to produce art and continue to comment on society despite financial hardships.

I am not quite sure what I have here yet but I feel an undercurrent of something powerful.

Guillermo Verdecchia sent me the following stats that have been produced by the research unit of the Canada Council for the Arts. Thanks Guillermo . I also have just found which is a arts advocate website. This link has information on economic impact studies of the arts.
1. . Federal Government investment in arts and culture: $3.4 billion (0.7% of total government spending)

2. The three levels of Government investment in arts and culture: $7.4 billion

3. Number of people employed in the arts and cultural sector?
598,000 (3.9% of Canada’s total labour force).

4. The cultural sector within Canada’s economy?
Contributes close to $40 billion (3.8%) to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

5. Number of artists in Canada? 131,000

6. Average income of an artist? $23,500 per year

Sources: Statistics Canada;
Canada Council for the Arts.
Research Unit
The Canada Council for the Arts
November 2005

CAEA also has stats on member employment, which, as you know, ain't pretty. And here's a good article on the theme:

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Better Plan for Green Stability

Mr. McGuinty,

I am writing this letter to you to urge you to move more decisively and quickly toward a greener future. The federal government under both the Conservatives and the Liberals have dragged their feet when approaching the looming spectre of climate change so it is up to the provinces and cities to lead the way. We Ontarians have an excellent opportunity.

The provinces can do several things to support a "green" economy and to help retard and reverse global warming - an effect that the majority of climate scientists around the world have agreed is real and is a direct result of human activity.

I propose the following areas which the province can focus upon:

Carbon Tax

This is the only real way to effect change in society and force us to look at greener methods of doing business and living our lives. It is endorsed by most climate economists as the only fair and effective way to force this change. We are change adverse in our society and no one wants to pay more for gas or other items that are affected by fossil fuel prices but by making this tax neutral and offsetting it through cuts to income taxes it can be sold to Ontarians as a less painful and necessary option to avoid future warming and its harmful and possibly deadly results.

Public Transportation

The Province of Ontario must have a long term strategy to support and expand public transport in a profound way. We must have another option to inefficient cars in this province and without a strong public transport system, like the ones in many European and some South American cities, we cannot expect the public to support the carbon tax. This will mean increased funding and long term sustained funding to regional transit units across the province, including the north. As well, the European model shows us that taking the taxes generated from the gas tax and directly funding public transport with it engenders more public support.

Green Energy Production

We need strong provincial leadership in this area. Mandatory solar or geothermal energy production in every new house built will go a long way to solving our energy crisis and getting rid of all of the coal-burning power plants in Ontario. By mandating these products be built in Canada if not Ontario this will help support the manufacturing sector that has been hit badly in the last several years. As well, distributed generation like solar, wind and geothermal that are based at the household level improves our ability to weather power problems like that seen in the Blackout Summer of 2003 and allay fears of international terrorism affecting our energy sector. This can also soften the blow of bringing new nuclear options online as it lowers the pressure to build in a short time frame. These products exist now and countries like Germany have been very successful in their implementation. This would also include a system to pay a subsidy to those generating the power that can then be lowered over a long term time frame as more local producers come on line.

These are 3 viable options that we can take right now and will have profound affects on our impact on the environment. The more we dodge these fixes the more we pile these problems onto our children and the less a chance they will have to save the planet from the dangerous effects of global warming.

Please, Mr. Premier, the people of Ontario need your help NOW, not at the start of the next election cycle.

Thank You,

Michael Kruse

This email has been sent to members of the opposition parties and their respective critics as well as the Ministers of Energy and The Environment

Financial Stability in the Arts

I was further outraged this week by our illustrious Prime Minister's comments about ordinary people not be interested in the arts. I was especially thrilled to learn that we all attend elite red carpet gala's paid for by the tax payer - that's what that trip to McDonald's was last week...

In response to this I have created a survey on Survey Monkey to gather some informal data on financial security in the arts. I will hope to get about 1000 entries and post the data on this blog. Maybe I am crazy but the survey is only 10 questions. I will do future ones concerning grants but this one I think will give me a base line. Yes, the sampling is not random and keeps out people without tech savvy or access to the Internet but it is a start.

If you work in the arts or know someone who does please check out the survey: