If you haven’t already heard about the government of New Brunswick’s proposed cuts, you can read more here:
Are we as citizens of New Brunswick really going to allow the future of arts funding, promotion, and advocacy in our province to be turned over to the civil service?! (They are already working hard enough as it is!!)
It is absolutely NOT acceptable that the government of New Brunswick take away ArtsNB’s independent status, cutting the jobs of all current employees, and fold the critical – and currently independent, and peer reviewed – decision making processes of the arts council into that of the governments expected workload from Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.
This is UNACCEPTABLE for a number of reasons:
-Withought risking their jobs, staff working for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture will be unable to perform critical advocacy work on behalf of artists and arts organizations in our province.
-Funding currently acquired by our arts council for things such as special indigenous artists projects through JEDI, PETL are not available to governmental agencies.
-We need to question what sort of transparency and accountability to the arts community we might expect from a government directed arts board?
-Increased bureaucracy, and wait times for artists and arts organizations waiting to hear about project funding and travel grants.
It’s sad isn’t it, how the budget in a province as financially poor and conversely, rich in community and culture as New Brunswick, can fuel such divisiveness, infighting, and -potentially- further alienation of so many of the fascinating human beings who make it their home?!..
We needn’t argue over who’s work is more “important”, rather, we need to see that together we each represent a valuable piece of the puzzle and work together to ensure that those strengths are not only acknowledged, but fostered.
Transparency and proportionate representation are crucial aspects of a healthy arts council. Without them, we can expect less diversity in the stories that are told, we can expect increased homogeneity in artistic aesthetic – faced with a simplified art-market equation of Supply and Demand, and much much more.
The planned cuts to ArtsNB will certainly not serve us culturally. And no matter any potential short term financial benefits, I believe, that the proposed cuts will also not serve us financially in the long term. What they will do, is risk ‘shrinking’ us. Any decrease in diversity and autonomy for the arts narrows our opportunities as a community to ‘see’ each other – positively – to want to reach out and meet each other half way, in our common struggles as New Brunswickers.
My last point is from Martha Nussbaum and is taken from her book NOT FOR PROFIT: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. As this quote begins, Nussbaum has been describing “progressive educators” who value the arts in schools, and I would like that as you read you replace the word ‘educators’ with the word ‘governments’..
“Such educators realized early on that the most important contribution of the arts to life after school was that of strengthening the personality’s emotional and imaginative resources, giving children abilities to understand both self and others that they would otherwise lack. We do not automatically see other human beings as spacious and deep, having thoughts, spiritual longings and emotions. It is all too easy to see another person as just a body-which we might then think we can use for our ends, bad or good. It is an achievement to see a soul in that body, and this achievement is supported by poetry and the arts, which ask us to wonder about the inner world of that shape we see – and, too, to wonder about ourselves and our own depths.” (Nussbaum, 2010, pp.101-102)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please make your thoughts known, either way, to the government of New Brunswick. I’m going to.