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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Art & Politics redux

Howdy!

I've tried this before, and ended up accomplishing nothing. But I'm never one to shy away from a dead horse, and after reading this article in today's New York Times explaining how Michael R. Bloomberg isn't fond of looking at art, but has been the best thing since sliced bread for the arts in New York city. It occurred to me to try to find out whatever happened to all the action on Kulcha with a Capital "C" that was happening here in Montreal last winter.

First, to jog your memories. The city of Montreal, Culture Montreal, the government of Quebec and Tourism Montreal each pitched in $50,000 in order to get someone who works for Richard Florida to write this. If you'd like to read my initial comments, try this, and this, and this.

Second, I don't know how much it cost, but just after the Dr. Florida road show blew through town, the Office of Public Consultations decided to get in on the act, but they scheduled a whole whack of meetings, got 'em simultaneously translated, and then published this report. Or is it this report?

So, now we're in the midst of an election, and the kerfuffle over Kulcha with a Capital "C" has gone the way of the dodo. So what's it all mean?

Well, according to Jennifer Steinhauer, "the [Mayor Bloomberg's] arts agenda has infused policy-making throughout the municipal government." And further down she notes that "Mr. Bloomberg had given $10 million of his own money to the Carnegie Corporation to benefit 162 small and medium-size cultural institutions around the city, in awards ranging from $25,000 to $100,000. (The mayor has repeated this gesture three times; the latest gift was $20 million.)" And while it is not a complete rah-rah story, and does point out some of the inconsistencies in Mayor Bloomberg's policies, it did make me think about how Mayor Tremblay and ex-wannabe Mayor Bourque have handled the arts in Montreal.

And to be honest, other than giving Richard Florida a cool quarter of a million dollars, almost killing the Film Festival, not kicking in $80,000 to the Festival International de Danse, ripping La Joute out of where it was supposed to be, I can't think of anything truly positive that either one has done for the arts here in Montreal. Now granted my memory is sketchy at best, so please let me know if I have missed something. But apparently I am not the only one.

On the other hand, as someone who is not a big fan of government involvement in the arts I really shouldn't be complaining now, should I?

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