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Bruce, Caroline

Whose Culture Is It, Anyway?

The Canadian Government has, for most of its existence, been highly protective of "Canadian culture". Billions of dollars in tax payers' money goes toward this culture. By culture, apparently, they mean something enjoyed by a minority of people which cannot sustain itself, so the majority must pay.

But just what is this culture I help to finance? Why am I supposed to be grateful that my government, the self-appointed custodians of my hard-earned money, is financing this stuff?

I talked to someone about this a while back. This gentleman was a staunch supporter of "culture". I asked him why we are all supposed to support it. Why couldn't it be supported by the lovers of classical music, ballet, scripted yodeling (opera) and dead rabbits hanging from trees (what the Canadian Council of the Arts deemed art in a gallery south of Winnipeg some years ago)? His answer intrigued me. In effect, he told me that if they depended solely on the support of those who cared about it, it could never float.

This brings me back to my original question, viz., what is culture? Is culture not meant to reflect the people of a given group or community? Is culture not meant to define who we, as a people, are? If so, how can that enjoyed by a minority be considered cultural? I, as a Canadian, do not define myself in terms of classical music, ballet or opera. Dead rabbits hanging from trees say nothing either to or about me. Yet I am supposed to happily fork over my money and let the government tell the world that this is a part of my culture. Our culture is defined not by the people who are meant to shape it, but by some autocrat in Ottawa.

True culture evolves, it is not bought. True culture is reflected in and by the people, not on the purse-strings of the government. Whose culture is it that I'm helping to pay for? Certainly not mine; certainly not that of most of the people I know. I pay for my forms of culture. Let the fans of classical music, ballet, scripted yodeling and dead rabbits pay for theirs too.


*CLAPS* I agree with this 100%.

That dead rabbit exhibit was near my house in St. Norbert...the artist who did is a "shock" artist. Other work she has created (on the public dime) includes depictions of Disney & Seseme Street characters in torture poses. I haven't heard about her in a few years though, so perhaps there was enough public outcry about her work that they decided to tighten the public purse strings.

Working in the field somewhat, I don't think I would ever take a government grant. If people like my work, great. If they don't, at least I have created it for myself.