Weeks ago I submitted a piece to The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition’s ‘win lunch with Doug Ford essay competition‘. Since then I’ve awaited winner’s notification, anxious for the opportunity to discuss the future of The Arts with one of Toronto’s most influential politicians at O.NOIR on Church Street. Despite the magnitude of my submission, I didn’t win. Per contra, 3 of the 4 winners did not abide the explicitly stated qualifying rules (‘a 500 word essay beginning with ‘lower taxes are good for Toronto because…’), rules that I, contest loser, obediently followed. Yet another voice from The Arts unheard. Of course, it’s always the People who goad The Revolution, not the politicians. As Part 1 of Mapping The Revolution, I give you the essay our establishment ignored:
Lower taxes are good for Toronto because they will improve the quality of The Arts. However, it’s unfortunately rare to find members of The Art Community who have the basic comprehension of economic policies necessary to see how these policies are suffocating creativity and Artistic potential. It may seem simple logic to conclude that more Art sector funding, through taxation or any other means, would lead to a more robust Art Community, but anyone who has studied metaphysics, or listened to U2’s rock n’ roll ballad ‘One Love’ knows that ‘one plus one’ does not necessarily equal two. The fact is our top-down meddling in The Art World is killing what so many Art proponents wish to nourish.
Similar to the ‘teach a man to fish’ parable, we’ve been giving The Artist our money, and he has all but forgotten he can earn the money himself. He only gets lazier, duller, and vapid in his craft, requiring more and more taxpayer money to support the decaying habit he calls ‘Art.’ This is not how Art evolution works, this is degenerARTion. The true nature of Art is survival of the exquisite- a quality which corporate sponsors fiendishly aim to attach to their brands, and consumers- unburdened by the taxes taken from them to ‘support the arts’- would pay top dollar to experience. By putting a group of utilitarian urine receptacles inside a camera frame and letting the film roll, MTV has achieved Artistic excellence with its Jersey Shore, our modern day Duchamp readymade. Appropriately so, without being a burden to any taxpayers, Jersey Shore has become one of the most popular and financially successful Artworks of our time.
Instead of appealing to an increasingly decrepit and senseless panel of judges in the pathetic grant system (not to speak of the system’s inherent incestuous corruption which is a topic for an essay in itself), having relatively more reliance on consumer demands will force Artists to achieve an excellence in their work which previously cultivated the Da Vincis of our past. Today we have Artists like dancer Margie Gillis (who is relatively unknown considering the amount of money she’s received from the government), continuing to add to the thousands upon millions of dollars that she and her company have received from taxpayers. Margie currently uses our money to win awards for taking to the stage dances that are increasingly fused with her unoriginal brand of schizophrenic behaviour; however interesting and engaging these performances may be, they’re already presented everyday free of cost on the streets of our city’s poorer neighbourhoods by the mentally deranged. It is the government support of work like Margie Gillis’ that is drowning The Arts and causing the public to become Artistically apathetic.
One of the problems with our city’s Art Community is government funding; one of its solutions means lower taxes. Real support for The Arts means cutting the funding.
Make no mistake, Toronto: we are at war with an enemy we can’t see. A brutal convolution of ideologies and convictions has blinded us. The too familiar stale air that surrounds us- the moronic work that plagues our theatres, the typical slop that pollutes our galleries, the foul odour that is Canadian television- is the perfume of a city-wide (to all appearances: country-wide) cultural holocaust.
The stakes are no lesser than our culture, our identity, our honour. We are experiencing Art genocide.
Finally, under City Hall’s consideration is a $6 million dollar cut to Art sector funding, but the city is entangled in controversy. Sadly, in part due to the bitter villanizing of our Mayor Rob Ford, our deafening partisanship threatens the passage of this legislation. The Arts might not receive the funding cuts they need to survive. It’s time to take the blindfold off and support Mayor Rob Ford’s Art sector funding cuts. Lost in a sea of confusion, we must find our shore; our own Jersey Shore. It’s time for us to enlighten ourselves, educate others, and join forces to save The Arts. It’s time to cut the stranglehold that government has on The Arts. It’s time to cut the funding.
About the author: Arts Lüber is an artist and art critic from Toronto. He is concerned with censorship in the arts, and what he calls a ‘prevailing fascism in the art world.’ He describes himself as ‘an activist, alchemist, wizard, and art mongrel.’ In addition to Provocative Penguin, Arts writes for his own blog, Arts Lüber’s Republic.
You can read Arts’ other posts on PP [here]