So Verner the minister responsible claims that the government will always fight for the cultural sector. Hmm! Lets see cutting funding is fighting for the cultural sector. Reality "dictates" that we seek efficiency. Can you imagine the government saying: It would be nice to have new helicopters and drones etc.etc. but reality dictates that we must cut funding and seek efficiency for our armed forces? I think not. Reality dictated nothing. The government decided that cultural funding was a soft target for cutting and so it went ahead and did it, hoping that any reaction will be from a few arts groups that won't sway many votes come election time.
Federal government makes further cuts to arts, cultural programs
Government seeks more efficiency, stronger impact: Verner
Last Updated: Friday, August 15, 2008 11:22 AM ET
The department of Canadian Heritage has made further cuts to federal arts and cultural programs, despite the sector's uproar over the elimination of two significant initiatives revealed a week ago.
The latest cuts include federal contributions of:
$300,000 to the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, for programs archiving important film, television and musical recordings.
$1.5 million to the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund.
$2.5 million to the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sector.
Two programs that provide support to arts organizations — the Stabilization Projects and Capacity Building — will also be cut, as will two New Media Research funds, the government announced in updates on the programs' respective web pages.
Last week, government officials confirmed it would no longer fund the $4.7 million PromArt program, which subsidizes the promotion of Canadian artists touring abroad. News then emerged that funding of the $9 million Trade Routes program, which promotes the export of Canadian arts and culture products abroad, had also been cut.
Arts organizations across the country and the opposition leaders and cultural critics have vehemently criticized the government's slashing of the cultural funding all week.
The cancellations will have a "devastating effect," said Antoni Cimolino, Stratford Shakespeare Festival general director and a vice-president of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres — one of the many groups that released official statements condemning the government action.
"Canadians depend on our artists and their work to communicate Canadian values. Government investment is a crucial element of cultural diplomacy in every developed nation, including Canada."
On Thursday, Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe called the funding cuts "unacceptable." He called on his Liberal and NDP colleagues to join the Bloc in calling the Heritage Department to task and demanded the Conservatives immediately explain their decision.
After mostly silence (save for brief statements from department spokesmen) this week, Heritage Minister Josée Verner defended the Trade Routes and PromArt decisions in an interview with the French arm of Canadian Press on Thursday.
"What's being considered … is to examine how we can create a new program or new avenues that will be more efficient and with a stronger impact for our culture abroad," Verner said.
Though these programs are important for artists, they did not demonstrate that the federal government's investment in them had enough impact to make a difference, Verner said, adding that the decision to abolish these programs stems from revisions announced in the budget last spring.
Verner said she would "always fight" for the cultural sector but that reality dictates "that we seek efficiency. I think the first beneficiary of this [action] will be the cultural world."With files from Radio-Canada and the Canadian Press