Okay, as many of you know either from what they have heard in the Toronto arts and entertainment news, or by word of mouth, or maybe even on my blog Summerworks, the Toronto music and theatre festival that occurs annually in August was rejected for a grant to support the festival this year.This will mean higher ticket prices and a lower budget for the festival and all those involved in the festival.
The skepticism about the festival Stephen Harper's government being pissed off with a controversial play that was misinterpreted as a support for terrorism called "Homegrown". Although, to be perfectly honest I never got the chance to see the play even though I kind of wanted to I know a little bit about it therefore I have every right to believe that this isn't the least bit true. Homegrown is about a Toronto lawyer who befriends a guy who is a part of a terrorist group and it focuses on their friendship and never tries to preach any view, at all on terrorism, her friend just happens to be a terrorist. I got the chance to volunteer at last year's festival and saw a whole bunch of plays for free there as a result of my role as a volunteer. I asked one of the volunteers once about "Homegrown" and the way it addresses terrorism and they saw no signs of the play having anything to do with it. What makes this misinterpretation even more silly is that this assumption was based on paranoia instead of actual fact. One of the best things about Summerworks is the extremely high quality of work that I've seen presented at the festival and the wide variety of perspectives from various parts of Canada. In other words, a large majority of the stuff presented there has a lot of potential.
Now let's take a look at where those culture dollars are going instead. Before I discuss this I'll quote two things that John Doyle said in today's globe in article on the same subject. He called it "the walk of shame" and "your tax dollars at work". I'm sure you've all heard of the walk of fame, that's why John Doyle has appropriately changed it to "the walk of shame". Various people, most often famous people are honoured, when there are so many other prizes out there to honour singers, songwriters, writers, and even hockey players. They are then put on a little, metal gold star with their name on it on a pathway in Toronto. After this and the whole pomp and circumstance ceremony they get media recognition just to say "such and such made it to the walk of fame". All this...for a gold star and your name on a pathway?! There are so many different ways to recognize people by giving them awards and perhaps we should leave it up to the well-known, North American awards shows and various other halls of fame. It's defiantly not cheap so guess where the money comes from: tax dollars and I agree with Doyle when he says that it is depriving the money that is needed for the stuff of real artists. This is the same part of the government that said no to the grant for Summerworks. Gold stars and a tv spot, funding, and recognition for people who no longer even need it due to their huge degree of fame? Yes, it's true, that's where the money goes instead. The justification for using tax dollars to fund this ceremony: it boosts tourism. I don't think I'd go to a city to just to see a gold star on a pathway: how the heck is this a boost for tourism?! The walk of shame: yes, John Doyle you are certainly right.