Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Half Empty Glass From Which Everyone Should Drink...

I'll wrap up 'plug week' with a shout-out for a post...a MONSTER post over at Henshaw's house. The Big Jim doesn't exactly support the Harper governments' recent cuts to Canadian arts and culture programs, but he doesn't exactly knock the notion of cuts either. Instead, he uses them as a springboard to do what we ALL need to start doing...seriously question whether our over-subsidized, under-nourished entertainment industry is really working.

Just a taste:

Folks, our subsidy system is broken because it serves neither the artists of the country nor the audience while allowing and encouraging the money to be siphoned off by those who are mostly hanging around for the wine and cheese party.

We need to start considering a system that works for the rest of us. Because if we don't, things are only going to get worse.

In the 1990's, I had the opportunity of shooting a couple of films in Hungary, shortly after the fall of the Communist system. There had been a strong, state-funded Arts system there and we had a number of very talented local artists working on the films. But working with them wasn't that easy. A system that had looked after all their needs had also robbed them of all initiative and accountability. Many sleep-walked through their tasks, their artistic flame smothered by living too long in a welfare state.

And you can see the same thing happening in this country. The more Government has subsidized (and thereby controlled) our ventures, the less we produce in terms of both final production numbers and work that inspires our audience. Our television drama is a shadow of what it was 20 years ago and our feature film industry has gone from one of the busiest in the world to one of the least productive.

Telefilm spends hundreds of thousands of dollars developing scripts no local production company even deigns to read. Writers, directors and actors stick with series none of them would be caught dead watching because it pays the rent. And the phrases you most hear at industry soirees are "what're you gonna do" and "it's what they're making".

It makes you wonder if what we've got is really worth preserving. Surely there must be some way to kick-start a new financing formula that would attract venture capital or reward private contribution instead of hanging on to one that isn't creating anything we're really proud of.

Read all of it HERE. And I mean read it...with attention. And then think about it. And then start talking about it and discussing it with your colleagues.

I wish we could all have a town hall meeting afterwards...

3 comments:

jimhenshaw said...

Town Hall! Cool! Will there be Pie?

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