Government as record label -

Government as record label


Heritage Minister James Moore explains his government’s approach to funding pop music.

Moore said yesterday the Conservatives’ philosophical inclination is toward funding artists with commercial promise, a view Prime Minister Stephen Harper has espoused. “But not entirely,” Moore added.

“It’s not my view that in order for art to have merit and value to society, it has to be commercially viable,” Moore said. “I’m not at all castigating independent artists and what their hopes are for their creations. … It’s about funding things that are of a higher priority for government and for the industry.”

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Government as record label

  1. I find this strangely disheartening.

  2. Art in the service of ideology is propaganda

  3. Flarhety came around and so will Moore . The finance minister would not pick winners & losers or fix potholes . Look at him now .

  4. Nope- wrong heading.
    When you see Moore saying something like "It's not my view that….." and then he goes on to say something different from the official party line, you have to use the "Maverick Watch" header .

  5. The art industry brought this upon themselves when they justified arts funding on economic grounds in their 2008 protest against the non-cuts to the arts. If, as they argued, supporting the arts is a necessary part of our economic strategy, shouldn't we support those artists who are likely to have the greatest artistic impact?

    • But why do we need to fund the artists that are already commercially successful? Arts funding only makes sense if you are spending it on something that the market wouldn't provide on its own. Maybe artists screwed themselves due to the way the issue was argued, but I just don't see the value in this policy myself.

      • Read the original comment carefully, the emphasis is on commercial PROMISE. There are presumably some artists who require government help early on, but who will go on to be commercially successful. They should get money. Artists who are already successful don't need money, while artists who will never be commercially viable could probably use the money, but in my estimation shouldn't get it.

        I oppose all direct subsidies to artists, but if there are going to be subsidies, the fairest rationale is an economic one. Moreover it is the one governments are probably best suited to do. I think governments are bad at picking winners, but they are even worse at deciding what has artistic merit. Indeed, I don't think there is any fair criterion that the government could employ for judging art. Moreover, it is easy to rejig the criteria in such a way that art subsidies serve ideological interests.

        I do think there is a role for government in the arts. That role is in building infrastructure, rather than subsidizing artists directly. Institutions like OCAD are a necessary thing and a good thing. Governments may decide to build opera houses to stimulate economic development. Heck, if we believe as a society that the arts are a socially important activity, we could give artists themselves a tax credit.

        By contrast, I would rather not have my tax dollars go to promote more depressing Anne of Green Gables complete with a native dance, probably some French people, polio and/or the Spanish influenza, a Vimy Ridge scene and lots of self-loathing. Or, for the many Quebec films also funded, an introspective look at the horrible anglo conqueror and his oppressive decision to uphold the rights of anglo minorities in Montreal.

        • That is a very good post with many great points, the best of which is that Artists who are already successful don't need money. Could we please stop shelling out money to Margaret Atwood?

          To your points I would add that arts funding is best done at the local level – where the artists are face to face with the public, and in an open process. All too often, arts funding is based on cronyism.

          And public funding of the Arts enriches and enlivens us, we should be provided far more funding.

    • First, I don't speak to, or for "The art industry". If art could be factory made, it will look factory made.

      The artists who might have the greatest impact aren't necessarily the most commercially viable.

    • First, I don't speak to, or for "The art industry". If art could be factory made, it would look factory made.

      The artists who might have the greatest impact aren't necessarily the most commercially viable.

      • Yes, but once you stray away from commercial impact you get into subjective territory. I don't think it is a good idea to spend taxpayer money on something that is of purely subjective value (like "impact"). Moreover, even then, commercial impact is a good indicator of the non-economic benefits of a film too. The fact that people are paying $12 or more to see a movie indicates that many people believe the positive benefits of seeing the film exceed the benefits that could be obtained by spending that $12 elsewhere. When you are spending 1 billion dollars on films that hit 1.6% of the English Canadian market (… I think something is wrong.

        Remember also that you aren't just throwing money at something and creating an unambiguously good outcome. That money has an opportunity cost – it could be used to reduce the deficit, build hospitals, or cut taxes, etc. The question isn't whether it is a good thing to have great independent films or not, but whether the government is the best actor to fund such films.

        Additionally, Canadian policy on this front is a little incoherent anyway. Part of the reason Canadians don't watch Canadian films is that most of the Canadian talent works on American movies. Now, keep in mind that, thanks in part to our subsidization of films made in Canada, many of those American movies star and staff Canadians, and are filmed in Canada. We are funding domestically made Canadian films that must compete for talent with American films that we also subsidize.

        • As to 'Impact as subjectivity territory and Opportunity cost':

          Economic justification needs extension into accounting for the actual costs of industry products: oil production, automobiles, electricity. If the costs of environmental damage, pollution and cleanup, the costs of neglected health of third world workers, tax breaks to industry, for instance, were actually built into the costs of goods as the consumer paid them, the prices would be much higher. Let that market truly decide.

          Oh, but the government here wants to apply the test of profitability? Since the costs are subsidized so much already, why must arts funding be exempt from public support? or meet tests automobile and oil industries don't have to meet?

          End all funding, or allow some, then, to what criteria?

          In the case of film production companies, or ballet companies, they are intended to create jobs, and so, simply by being incorporated they agree to the terms of profitability as test of viability. They make 'art' to make money.

          Still, those grips and lighting guys, and painters and carpenters and accountants get jobs. You aren't just funding the bohemian who wants to dance for the fairies in the woods..

          Mozart and Bach received government subsidy throughout their lives. Without a patron, they would have starved. There was no test of profitability applied to their work, but you *could* argue that the 'market' was royalty, or the church, so as artists they met market expectations. Is Bach's commissioned response to the churches ideology then propaganda?

          And they needed orchestras to play that stuff. Did the Emperor of Austria demand that each clarinetist produce a profit? Or that Mozart didn't write enough notes in that prelude, and "dammit, I'm paying for output!"

          That would be propaganda, that would be art driven by ideology.

          To apply the test of profit to a living Vincent Van Gogh would simply have paved the earth.

          • They were also patronized by aristocrats.

          • And more: They were funded by the discerning, educated, literate, and wealthy. You already, almost certainly, have more income than 90% of the worlds population.

          • Yes, and if I feel that an artist brings me beauty or represents me culturally I do patronize him.

            I fail to see though why I should be obliged to fund your artists with my tax dollars to advance your progressive agenda. A progressive agenda that by in large views me as a troglodyte who has no place in the brave new world.

          • "if I feel that an artist brings me beauty or represents me culturally I do patronize him."

            Good for you.

            "A progressive agenda that by in large views me as a troglodyte who has no place in the brave new world."

            If you think that's the cookie you're being fed, then eat it.

          • I know it tastes like dung, which is why I don't want to pay for it.

            Generally art in service to beauty doesn't really bother me, but I also feel that generally there is a market for beautiful art, music, dance, and literature. A market that crosses political and class boundaries.

            Art in service to ideology should be paid for by the ideologues.

          • "Art in service to ideology should be paid for by the ideologues."

            That's exactly what James Moore is proposing.

  6. PS: I am kind of glad on a personal level that the government subsidized Tideland, which is an awesome movie. I can see how most taxpayers would be pretty outraged at funding a movie about a girl who, among other things, helps her dad shoot heroin.

  7. Artists angry over lost grants.

    But of course. Because once you've started helping yourself to other people's stuff, it becomes a hard habit to break. So here's a friendly neighbourhood suggestion. You want to make a living as an artist? Fine: Earn it. Otherwise, you might like to find another line of work.

    • What is your line of work, incidentally? I wonder if you earn your money or are just a leech off the honest taxpayer like everybody else in your worldview.