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Get with the Program, Canada Council

This evening, members of the Toronto arts community gathered at the Four Seasons Centre for an “open reception” hosted by the Canada Council.

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The Toronto arts community, listening to speeches. Image: VoCA

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.”

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The carpet at the Four Seasons Centre, photographed during the speeches. Image: VoCA

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.

2 Responses to “Get with the Program, Canada Council”

  1. Wil Murray says:

    I find the kind of goodwill contained in a free beer goes a long way to make me more willing to believe in bridging gaps and solving differences. But maybe if they’d gone for that strategy they would have had to promise to solve world hunger and the scourge of feline Aids…with Canadian Art.

  2. Peter Sibbld says:

    Thank you for the existence of your blog and in particular you recent posting on the Canada Council APM debacle. The disconnect between the Arts and government, particularly the present administration is profound, a point you couldn’t have made sharper than you did by zeroing in on their cash bar prices.

    I’d submitted a question to that meeting electronically knowing I wouldn’t be able to attend in person, given that it was my understanding that it was to be webcast, but from my end at least their technology was inoperable on the day.

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