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Authors vs. funding cuts: the revolution will be artsy

On Wednesday, the arts community gathered in a crowded Toronto theatre to denounce the $40-million in arts funding cuts announced by the Tories in recent weeks. According to the Toronto Star, the night’s speakers, who included former chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada Susan Swan and activist and author Naomi Klein, had some choice words for the government.

Could it be, Mr. Prime Minister, that you don’t want to understand the value of the arts? Could it be that you would prefer the arts to be an arm of government propaganda instead of the free expression of ideas and innovation that’s so crucial for a successful democracy and a good economy? Could it be that you feel threatened by artistic expression because you can’t control it? Swan said.

Artistic expression spreads goodwill about Canada around the world. Culture is us, Mr. Prime Minister, and if we don’t value ourselves, the world won’t either, she added.

In response to the cuts, one community group, dubbed Department of Culture, is proposing a number of measures to defeat Harper, including organizing swing teams in vulnerable Tory ridings. A more whimsical tactic is to draw attention to a quote by Quebec author Gabrielle Roy inscribed on the Canadian $20 bill, which reads, Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts? From the group’s website:

To direct attention to the place of the arts in our society as a means of both economic and cultural exchange we encourage you to recite the quote every time you pay for something with a $20 bill.