Friday, January 28, 2005

Montreal is not a cultural city


I first came across this headline: "City to be named a cultural capital of Canada" on Thursday, in the Globe and Mail, and it is in reference to the venerable Toronto scoring a cool half a million dollars from Liza Frulla and friends. At almost the same time, I came across this: "Proposition de Politique de développement culturel pour la ville de Montréal." Which announced a meeting to explain the Montreal's new cultural policy. I then went to the meeting. There were about 40 people there, including the 10 people involved in giving the presentation. I was sorta surprised that there were even that many.

Then, digging a little deeper, there's this press release, and this variation on it, which lead to this "summary of an academic article" written by Kevin Stolarick, Richard Florida, and Louis Musante.

Now the academic paper touting how Montreal is "The Rising Star of the Creative Economy," is all fine and dandy. And I'm all for a bunch of 10 bureaucrats traveling around the city to explain what's happening at city hall to the citizens of this fair city. But I can't help but wonder how much Dr. Florida charged in order to come up with his paper. I can't imagine that it would be less than $10,000. I also wonder about the fiscal responsibility of sending a touring road show complete with recording, transcribing, and translating, as well as a fancy audio-visual presentation so that 160 people (40 times the four meetings) can learn absolutely nothing new, because it has been published since November.

Last I heard there were a number of underfunded cultural institution, I can't help but thinking that perhaps someone like the Centre des arts contemporains du Québec à Montréal could have used some of the cash spent on some fancy academic paper so that they could have continued their exhibition schedule.

Then if Montreal is "supposedly" such a freakin' hotbed of creativity, then why is Toronto garnering all the headlines? And if in fact the Government of Canada is giving away half a million bucks to cities that are "supposedly" creative, why have cities like Regina (a noted breeding ground of all things stimulating) and Kelowna, British Columbia scored the money, while Montreal has never even had the guts to apply [2003 applicants, 2004 applicants].

Oh and if you're as steamed as I am, there's a meeting at 1550 Metcalfe, 14th floor at 9 am on Monday the 31st where they are going to discuss how to make culture more accessible, and then at 5 pm there's another gabfest, this time at 3680 Jeanne-Mance to tout Dr. Florida's academic paper. See you there!

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