For as many federal and provincial elections as I can remember, the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance has distributed surveys on the arts to politicians and their political parties. This election is no exception. Five questions of fundamental importance to artists and writers in this province were posed:
- How will you support sustainable and stable funding for arts and culture? Critical to this question is funding of central federal agencies such as the Canada Council, CBC, Canadian TV Fund, and others. Recent cuts to federal arts and culture programs amount to $60.6 million crippling or stripping to bare bones New Media Funding, cultural diplomacy and international trade, museums funding, to name only a few.
- As the Conference Board makes clear, the creative economy is of central importance to innovation, productivity, wealth creation and new jobs. The arts are an investment not a give away! How will you support and actively work for investment of federal funds in the creative economy as governments presently do for other sectors of the economy?
- Cultural diplomacy and international trade markets are important to sustaining and building Canada’s international image and markets. How will you work to restore the principal foundations of diplomacy and trade programs now cut?
- Canada’s artists are world class. But their economic circumstances are well below that of other workers. Their work conditions are unique, often self-employed, relying on seasonal work with incomes that fluctuate enormously year to year. Taxation and social policies need to be reformed to reflect the economic realities of artists’ work. Would you support the sector’s call for Canada Revenue Agency to adopt a fair tax policy for artists including income averaging? And would you provide access for self-employed to social benefits, including Employment Insurance?
- Arms length funding has long been a principle for funding in this sector. Do you support this principle as the guiding factor for arts funding, i.e. taking political involvement out of the process?
The response from the NDP is here and from the Liberal Party, here. Kelly Block, the Stephen Harper Party candidate replacing Carol Skelton in the key battleground of Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, appears to be holding to the Harper strategy of silencing artists. Via her Communications Co-ordinator, she refused to respond and implied that she receives too many surveys and questionnaires to answer during the course of an election campaign. But she does offer a telephone number, 306-652-6080, if you have an urgent need to discuss these issues before October 14th.
Ring those phones!!! 306-652-6080