yesterday's Vote Culture Town Hall was inspiring, particularly because of the stirring words of the first speaker, Wajdi Mouawad, who is the NAC's Artistic Director of French Theatre and an award winning playwright.
one of his key points is that we weren't there to defend arts subsidies but the existence of art itself, that Canada has a reputation for treating its artists with contempt. he said that artists have to situate themselves in the margins in order to practice their art. he told the audience he was speaking as an artist, a director. he talked about his own appreciation for beauty as a motivation in his own work. his speech was very personal and intimate as if he were addressing each member of the audience directly.
also very inspiring was Martin Faucher, President of the Conseil québécois du théâtre. he spoke of his own upbringing and of not fitting in and the role of the arts in his life.
as one of the politicians pointed out, arts is on the political agenda this time around instead of relegated to the sidelines. if you couldn't attend the town hall or even if you could, you can still communicate your concern with making the arts a priority in this election; the Canadian Arts Coalition has an election toolkit that gives you advice about how you can raise the issue of arts with the candidates in your ridings here.
on a side note, i would have liked to have seen representatives from a wider variety of artistic disciplines. if we're going to raise awareness about the role of art in Canada, we need to include representatives from visual, music, literary arts, urban arts and so forth. i'm assuming that if there'd been more time to organize, that would have happened. in future though, it is imperative for all arts to join forces and for each sector to be invited to the table.
all that aside though, it was a stirring event and the Academic Hall theatre was packed. then there was a rally up on Parliament Hill.
i leave the artists themselves with the last word...
Margaret Atwood, Yan Martel and Wajdi Mouawad have recently spoken out in defence of the arts. the links to their passionnate cris de coeur are below.
Wajdi Mouawad [in translation]