Sunday, September 21, 2008

Writhing with disgust

A few days ago CBC columnist Heather Mallick did a detailed piece on yet another death of a thousand cuts
(pace Gerry Ritz). She examined, in her inimitable way, the current Tory war against culture and its devastating fallout for Canadian artists, our cultural industries and our international presence.

The onslaught continues, and never mind Stephen Harper's mediocre piano-playing. (That was just aural mendacity for the rubes.) The latest target of the hairy-knuckled hordes is the Ottawa-based Canadian Screen Training Centre.

According to the Ottawa Citizen's Tony Lofaro:

The centre, founded in 1981, has been a leader in training people in film and video production, and its annual Summer Institute of Film and Television program has been a bona fide hit, offering practical filmmaking experience to thousands of people. Directors such as Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and a score of Canadian producers and directors have taught at the institute. One of its famous graduates is Denise Robert, producer of The Barbarian Invasions, the Canadian winner of 2003's Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Perhaps Denise Robert hit too close to home. The Centre has now been informed that a $205,000 annual grant from Canadian Heritage will be axed on April 1, 2009, giving fresh new meaning to April Fools' Day. That grant is minuscule, but it's 40% of the Centre's budget. Says executive director Max Berdowski:

What we do with the level of funding we have is really quite remarkable. But to try and have a 40-per-cent cut in our revenue and still try to do anything that is still of significance is just a non-starter for us.

He predicts that unless the shortfall can be made up, the Centre is likely to close its doors as early as 2010.

And here is Canadian Heritage mouthpiece Dominique Collin:

This is a new approach to managing public funds and allows the government to assess a wide and diversified range of programs as a group to ensure they attain strong results and remain relevant.

Where is George Orwell now that we need him?

Mallick sums up the whole affair better than ever I could:

The cuts are shameful and cheap. Worse than that, they are spiteful, a character trait that makes me writhe with disgust when I find it in myself. What a government.

Yup, I'm writhing too. The barbarians are well past the gate--they're running the government. A-writhe, then, fellow citizens, let's kick these vandals to the curb on October 14. Or else it's NASCAR races, game shows and accordions for all eternity.

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