Thursday, December 18, 2003

FIND is lost


Oh, boo-hoo! The Festival international de nouvelle danse is toast. Sunk under a deficit of $600K. As you might have surmised, if you read my post of December 11th, I don't harbor much sympathy for Chantal Pontbriand.

Nice hair, eh?

Don't get me wrong; I am saddened that if somebody else more capable doesn't pick up the torch then Montreal's reputation as the hot-shit place on the planet for contemporary dance will take a serious hit. But, given what (little) information about how Ms. Pontbriand ran FIND, I cannot feel sorry for her.

In today's Montreal Gazette she is quoted as saying "Any contemporary art has to be highly subsidized by the state." Yeah, right! That is such patent and utter nonsense that I do not know where to start my rant - and I apologize to you if I go on too long.

Blaming September 11th is ridiculous - here at the gallery we had an exhibition (click on Tour du Monde to see it again) that opened on September 15th, 2001. It rocked, we sold tons of art, and all the folk at the vernie appreciated being able to retreat from the constant bombardment of news about Osama Bin Laden for a while. Isn't that one of the things that Art is about? Being able to retreat from the world and gain some vantage point for reflection?

If $600K was all that was needed and Heritage Canada wasn't gonna pony up the Mackenzies (this is Canada, there ain't no Benjamins here) or the Williams or the Lyons, and FIND was so damn dependent on the tutu and plie crowd from NYC and other points south, then why didn't she hit up Tourism Canada? Or Tourism Quebec? Or Tourism Montreal? Or Tourism Boulevard Saint Laurent?

If FIND was so important to the international dance world, then why are there no mentions of it (or the lack of it, now) in the New York Times? The Los Angeles Times? The Guardian? Le Monde? (Sorry I'm not up to date on my Dutch newspapers, and I wouldn't be able to read them either).

To get back to her quote in the Gazette, the government already does heavily subsidize contemporary art. University tuition for art students is pretty much paid for by the g-men. The magazines that tout, hype and otherwise attempt to convince folk that this is the most amazing thing since sliced bread are heavily subsidized. The Artists themselves get some cash in order to be able to pig out on Macaroni and Cheese every other week (and it definitely ain't enough). If Ms. Pontbriand thinks that the promoters need to get more money. Then the first thing I would do if I were H�l�ne Chalifour Scherrer or Line Beauchamp is take my truckloads of loonies and dump them on Rene Angelil. He's done more to promote Quebecois culture than any seventeen people I know.

If the government is subsidizing art, any art, heavily or not, then the public should not have to pay for it. What's Ms. Pontbriand doing charging $65 to see a show? That is $15 more than Iron Maiden is charging for their show! [OK full disclosure, I went looking for the most expensive ticket for FIND, most of the shows they put on were $25 - but, I couldn't resist the easy shot. Good thing I didn't pick on the $300 benefit!]

Art is good, good art should be available to everybody. And you are capable of discerning between good art and bad art. You don't need Ms. Pontbriand to lead you by the nose to things that she considers good. OK, I've run out of steam here. Last thig I wanna know, is who gets the fancy ass computers that FIND has?

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