Friday, May 6, 2011

An Arts Fart

Barbara: I know I just ranted about our recent national election, but I have one more point I want to make that’s very near and dear to my heart.

This rant started after I heard that someone yelled to our Prime Minister right after he won the election to “kill the CBC” (something he has in fact insinuated he might do). Now for those of you readers not from this country, this is an easy catch-up (for my point). The CBC is our national public broadcaster. They produce and air mostly Canadian content. Because it is government-owned, its Canadian content is largely protected. But because taxpayers pay for it to survive, its existence is often threatened.

“Kill the CBC” is a regular call to arms from certain types. And I always wonder why. I mean, first of all it’s a business like any other, filled with employees who rely on it for their paychecks (so they can, yes, pay their taxes and boost the economy with their confident spending). These people (whether writers, actors, producers or administrators) are as worthy of jobs as the next guy. Would people line up to shout at our elected officials to “Kill Schools” or “Kill the Bank of Canada” or even “Kill GE”?

So let’s ask those taxpayers who hate it––why do you gang up on the CBC? Is it because it’s an arts’ based forum and therefore not “serious”? The CBC features TV shows and radio programs and films and news and documentaries. Are TV and radio not as worthy as, say, drilling for oil? Now I’m not going to debate the merit of any specific show, but I will ask: who doesn’t friggin watch TV, listen to music, read, or watch a movie every now and then?! I mean what would we do without our arts? We’re not talking hoity, evening-gowned snobs sipping champagne and flicking channels with manicured fingernails (although let’s presume they do too). We’re talking virtually every single ordinary one of us!

All of us rely on some form of the arts to help us get by. To make us normal, functioning members of society and not just work-oriented automatons. The arts are as vital to our survival as healthcare and education. And they make us a hell of lot more fun and interesting to be around.

Deb: I have been employed by the CBC many times in my career. I have listened to CBC radio and I grew up on everything from the Friendly Giant to Rick Mercer. The CBC gives Canadians a starting point, a common ground if you will. Is it perfect? No. What is, I ask you? When I travel the country for Little Mosque and meet the fans, I see firsthand what the CBC means to Canada. Not everyone lives in the big cities, flipping through 200plus channels.

Can you imagine for one minute, Britain scrapping the BBC? It would never happen. They hold onto their precious institutions and so should we. 

PS You can also visit Friends of the CBC


  1. Could it be that your shouting conservatives have a bit of the Idiot American Fever that may have originated in the United States and primarily via Fox News?

    Here we see the same calls to defund or, if you will, kill National Public Radio (NPR) whenever we have budget talks. The Right in the U.S. has great disdain for NPR because they view it as somehow liberal and elitist. The truth is that it does ask people to appeal to the better sides of themselves on lots of occasions. They ask for donations. They cover news stories in depth. They present entertainment of a thinking nature in the form of quiz shows, storytelling, music that you might not hear on commercial radio.

    And therefore, it's a target.

    It also pushes people to think outside their immediate connections. They highlight the fact that it's a big world out there, made up of lots of cultures and people with different beliefs and it places a value on valuing the differences instead of pushing the provincial notion that we are superior simply because we're white, Christian Americans.

    And some of us simply cannot abide that idea.

    Sorry for the additional ranting.

    P.S. I was tickled to see a video at the library featuring the stage show of someone near and dear to your hearts and his partner. It's very funny. The kids and I have watched it twice already.

  2. They are killing NPR here in the US. They are already defunded it from any federal funds. Thanks goodness for the larger areas we support NPR with private donations but in smaller cities that is not the case. In budget crisis times they cut the good stuff-school funding, funding for the poorest of the poor and mental health. I will never understand it as long as I breathe.

  3. Hear, hear, ladies. You're getting even more into the nitty gritty of the why. And the why is just ridiculous -- it is elitism on the other end of the spectrum (if I don't like it, then it's shite). This is hypocrisy and forbidding freedom of speech at its worst.

  4. Sadly most right-wingish thinkers will assume that if it doesn't pay for itself, it shouldn't be supported by taxpayer dollars. What they forget is that any business run by advertising dollars lowers the quality bar because it's then the advertisers who influence the programming, bottom line, rather than leaving the business free to produce what appeals to its customers/listeners.
    CBC Radio is one of a kind in Canada. I've listened to it virtually daily since I was in my early twenties; its programs have opened my mind and touched my heart over and over again. If big business gets its grubby hands on CBC and advertising becomes a part of what I'm hearing, I'll be switching the radio off.
    It would be a huge personal loss to me to lose the CBC. By the way, at the very bottom of my webpage is a Support the CBC blurb, if anyone wants to and hasn't already. You can add your name to a petition to fund CBC better.

  5. Yes! The petition. Signed it. (the link to Friends of the CBC will get you to the petition as well)

  6. Barbara. One small consolation. When Harper is dead and gone, he will have left nothing beautiful or meaningful behind, no legacy, only destruction of what we hold dearest and makes us human, nature, arts and culture. You know, "so long lives this and this gives life to thee." well, in his case, he will no longer live after he is gone.

  7. Actually, Nives, I was just thinking about legacy the other day. Politicians are so busy running around the issues of today, why aren't they pushing for "the stuff of legacy"??? Now that would be a mandate. Barack Obama seems to be trying for that (I think...)

  8. well, my MP is an actor and director of the Black Theater Workshop (Tyrone Benskin) and as part of the Quebec Orange opposition will hopefully have a little voice to defend the arts. Gotta see hope where we can!

  9. Nives -- we went to cegep with Tyrone!! Great guy!

  10. (As a big fan of "Getting Along Famously," this American has tried many times to understand what the CBC is. I knew it was the "for Canadians, by Canadians" channel, (I apologize for the over-the-top simplification), but that was all. I wonder if our PBS, , is similar. It does not, however, focus soley on American subjects. (Really, it doesn't need to. Everything else does that.
    Funding for PBS programs comes from a variety of sources - member stations' dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, government agencies, foundations, corporations and private citizens.
    Is this ANYTHING similar to the CBC? Thanks for reading.

  11. The CBC has been the training ground for many of the top working professionals in areas as varied as cinematography, casting, producing, directing etc etc. To even consider shutting it down is short sited and will have a profound effect on the Canadian Film Industry. In my time at the CBC I worked with upcoming directors like Atom Egoyan, Gerry Ciccoritte, Sturla Gunnarson among many talented others. I think that the voice that the CBC gives the Canadian Arts community is profound and needs to be protected. On another totally different note I think the CBC is making mistakes in emulating American programming with shows like the Battle of the Blades. Let's see more scripted shows please!

  12. Thanks, Colin for your excellent endorsement of the true value of the CBC.

    Dawn, the CBC and PBS have some things in common, although I'd venture to say that the CBC tries to be a bit more populist as well. They still want to provide entertainment as well as the other "more serious" stuff. But then these CBC shows would be home-grown (as Colin said: "more scripted shows please!") and ostensibly would reflect the unique Canadian voice and talents. It is a crown corporation, but also relies on advertising money (so why the fuss?!).

  13. Happy Mother's Day to Barbara, Deb, and all the Middle Ages mommies!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.