January 27, 2009

Stephen Harper flip flops on arts cuts

CANADA - The minority Conservative government led by Stephen Harper has flip flopped on arts cuts it made in 2008.

The flip flop comes in the form of $160 million in new money for the arts, announced today by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

In the summer of 2008 Stephen Harper cut $45 million/year in arts funding and sparked protests during which Stephen Harper was compared to Hitler and called a Nazi. Harper lost a chunk of his popularity when the cuts were announced which cost him seats in Quebec during last October's election.

In Quebec, where support for the arts is a popular priority, the cuts – combined with Harper's ill-advised remark about arts people who go to so-called glamorous subsidized galas to complain about their grants – was a turning point in the election... costing him enough seats that he only won a minority government.

The $100 million will be spread over 2 years and go towards promoting arts festivals, music and comedy acts across Canada.

The other $60 million, also spread over two years, will be for the Cultural Spaces Canada program: constructing or fixing theatres, museums and other arts buildings.

This new funding is criticized as being just an attempt to smother the arts community and win back votes with cash.

The $45 million cut was an annual figure, and the $160 million investment is spread over two years, meaning it's $80 million a year. That means if its not renewed again in 2010 the arts community will see its coffers suddenly go empty.

And don't forget $60 million of that is really money for the construction industry to build/repair public art galleries, museums and theatres.

So where is this money coming from then? Harper rarely gives without taking something back.

The CBC, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council had best pray they escape harmful cuts.

See Also:
Stephen Harper Wants to Stifle Democracy in Canada
Censoring Sex, Homosexuality and Violence in Canadian Film

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