This evening, members of the Toronto arts community gathered at the Four Seasons Centre for an “open reception” hosted by the Canada Council.
Luckily, I arrived late, mid-way through the interminably dull speeches in which speakers bandied about terms like ‘synergy’ and other corporate boardspeak. My first impression was that this event perfectly represented the chasm that exists between government and the arts community. Wine cost $10 a glass, beer $6. There were hors d’eouvres too, a nice gesture.
The council is launching a new strategic plan, called Strengthening Connections, which “envisions a stronger relationship between the Council, the arts community and the Canadian public.” It will strengthen connections between “artists and their publics, the Canada Council and other funders, the public and private sectors, different regions, cultural communities of Canada, and Canada and the rest of the world, the Council will…ensure that the arts continue to play a dynamic and transformative role in our society.”
After speaking to a number of disappointed artists and writers in the crowd, I have a few suggestions for the next time the Canada Council gathers the arts community:
1. Get with the program – the arts community wants to be inspired, not numbed into submission. Keep the self-congratulatory speeches to a minimum.
2. Why not inspire the community? Show slides of programs that the Council has recently, or soon will fund. Give us something to look forward to.
3. Make the event useful. Why not identify people in the crowd–program officers, heads of organizations, people of influence–so that arts workers could then network later in the evening? That way, the different communities that the Council seeks to bring together could actually meet one another.
Just a thought.