Friday, June 13, 2008

"Vision Green Eyes"- The Beauty and Integrity of Arts and Culture

Above: (Top)Wasabi, pencil (Bottom)Blind Contour Drawing, pencil

Below: 5 Minute Sketch, Charcoal

Above drawings were done by Larissa Shasko in winter 2008.

The Arts have never been as important to Canadian Society as in these times of increasing ugliness. Our beautiful natural landscape is being consumed by sprawling cities, growing suburbs, and resource extraction. Strip malls, parking lots, litter, and unwanted graffiti do not ennoble us as a people. On the other hand, beautiful and intelligent Canadian art has the ability to enrich our lives while bringing peace in times of pain. We live in times of pain that will only get worse: cancer, school shootings, job loss, climate change, futile war, auto-immune illnesses, world-wide food shortages, shall I go on?

Art has an important place in this crazy world, and Canada is home to amazing talent that must be embraced and celebrated. I am a Visual Arts Minor at the U of R partly because art offers a stress release from the demands of being a Political Science Major. My father, Orest Shasko, is a Canadian artist. His work is beautiful, but it is not well-known. He has had to spend his life working as a teacher and a carpenter instead. Like so many other talented Canadian artists, his art has often had to take a back seat to making money. This is a shame of epic proportions.

In addition to incredible visual art, many talented actors, and a booming film industry, Canada is home to amazing musicians such as Neil Young, Rush, The Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, and Stompin' Tom---just to name a few. Their music elevates Canada around the world. They are more than musicians, they are Canadian embassadors, and they do us proud! This is the power of art: to heal, to represent, to unite, to educate, and to beautify.

Unfortunately, art appears to mean very little to the Conservative mindset. In his first budget, Harper's Government axed $4.6 million in funds for museum assistance. This was one of the many cuts in the September 25, 2006 budget delivered by the Conservatives which had a surplus of $13 billion! For more on the cutbacks in the 2006 budget, click here.

Now, Bill C-10 seeks to give the federal Heritage Department the power to deny funding for films and TV shows it considers offensive. Censorship does not belong in the world of art, especially not in Canada where such gems as SCTV have gained us world-wide recognition. Clearly, the Conservatives have the wrong approach when it comes to arts and culture.

The Green Party has a different vision. Government can create the right conditions to protect and support those who beautify and enrich the Canadian identity through their art. Today, over 600,000 Canadians are employed in the cultural sector.

Our Vision:

The Green Party understands that our future, our sense of who we are as a nation, depends on policies that ensure a thriving, diverse and socially responsible cultural community as part of an inclusive Canada.

We will continue and increase support for those cultural institutions that are within the Heritage Canada portfolio: Canada Council, the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), the National Film Board (NFB), and Telefilm Canada.

We will reverse the funding cuts of the Harper government for the exchange of artists and the performance of Canadian arts abroad as they are a vital aspect of effective diplomacy and artistic expression.

We plan to establish the equivalent of the Japanese National Treasure programme where outstanding individual artists are supported to perfect their craft.

Green Solutions:

Green Party MPs will:

Increase support for community arts programs and facilities across Canada by establishing stable base-funding at a set percentage of the federal budget.

Establish a grant programme that provides full costs of university, tuition, books, housing and living expenses for 200 students whose artistic promise is extraordinary

Protect Canada’s cultural identity during trade negotiations.

Increase support for regional arts festivals that bring Canadian art to a wider audience.

Provide stable base-funding for the CBC so it can continue to provide quality Canadian content
television and radio programming in both official languages to all Canadians.

Ensure that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reserve more bandwidth for independent and non-profit stations.

Require cinemas and video chains to have 20 % Canadian content.

Adequately fund Canada’s heritage and artistic museums to protect our cultural heritage from decay and neglect.

A note from Green Eyes:

Art has been around for far longer than Conservatives have. Artists record the world, reveal hidden or universal truths, give visible or tangible form to ideas, philosophies or feelings, and help us see the world in new or innovative ways. Artists are experiencers, reporters, analysts, and activists. Art is truly an important part of life.

In my first art class, my amazing art prof, Seema Goel, taught us about landscapes. We are all familiar with landscape paintings: painted scenes of the great outdoors, generally absent of people. I learned that in landscapes, what is painted is what is considered to be temporary. We are familiar with European landscapes featuring rolling green hills, jagged mountains, lush waterfalls, or bone-chilling winter scenes. Inuit landscapes feature none of these things. For the Inuit, their scenery is constant. For them, temporary is the brilliant sky, the animals, and the people. With the polar ice caps melting, I sadly wonder if Inuit landscapes will start to include the snow.



Read Vision Green! Click Here


The Recluse said...

I agree with you Larissa about art. And even more about the conservative mindset towards it. The conservative mindset seems to be stuck in 1984.
Growing up in 70s and 80s I received virtually no education about art. Not even recognition that it has different periods. Whereas I will never forget my first day in history class in grade nine. We were taught about there being four races;Caucassion, negroid, oriental and indian. They don't teach that anymore. A good reminder, at times like these, that the conservative mindset is declining in importance. Unfortunately the conservative does posses the need for some redemption in government by attacking things that are in the process of over coming its once exalted position. This may be the last federal conservative government in Canada.

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