A Censored Canadian Artist Makes The New York Times’ Blog

I’m not sure how much Dog Bloggers have ranted (if at all) about the case of Franke James, a Canadian artist whose funding for an international show was pulled by the government because her work is critical of the tarsands and Canada’s obstructionist carbon climate policy. Anyway,  New York Times’ blogger Andrew C. Revkin picked up the story last week and interviewed James. Here’s a short excerpt:

Q: Some will say, of course, that governments are free to shift spending priorities and it’s not as if they’re censoring you, just cutting off government subsidy. How do you respond to such points?

A: Your question contains several questions so let me break it down: Is the Canadian government free to shift its spending priorities? Most people would automatically say “Yes, of course.” However when it comes to arts funding it’s not so simple… Let’s rephrase the question this way: “Is the Canadian government free to deny funding to art which does not support its official policies?” Then the answer from many people would be “No” because to deny funding threatens free speech and freedom of expression. (And it starts to sound like only government propaganda will get Arts grants, which does not sound like a democracy.)

Read the whole thing here.

Oh yeah, one more thing: this is Canada. We support and nurture culture and free expression and we’re proud of it. Commentators eager to whine about how government funding of Canadian art and artists is a waste of their tax dollars are welcome to share their miserable, selfish and toxic remarks in this forum. They are also strongly encouraged to move somewhere  where governments don’t support culture. Preferably Mars.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth was carried to Regina in a swarm of bees. He's been with Prairie Dog since May 1999 and will die at his keyboard before admitting his career a terrible, terrible mistake.

16 thoughts on “A Censored Canadian Artist Makes The New York Times’ Blog”

  1. I was in the process of writing to you in support of Franke James on the topic of censorship and the freedom of expression when all of a sudden my computer screen $#@yiuyyiuytrr#w$#@#@$y*&^*&$#@*&&^%#$%^%&*

  2. Thanks Jeannie. What a relief. I thought the feds had pulled the plug on my computer. Campaign contributions are crucial to the process, and my cheque DID bounce. But still.

  3. What I’d like to know is, does corporate sponsorship of an event or cultural institution often or usually lead to self-censorship on the part of the executive/board? If you’re funded partially by an oil company, are you very unlikely ever to stage a production by or about Ken Saro Wiwa, for instance?

  4. Hmmm, I’ve always assumed; wanted to hold out believing the money was always given impartially. I suppose it is, though if you rub them wrong, it can always disappear just as “impartially”. “You know, cutbacks…”

  5. Right up ther with the Trailer Park Boys.
    How many people lost there jobs due to the show losingits grant to produce it?

  6. But did Trailer Park lose its grant because it upset the government? I mean, it’s hard to imagine TPB not upsetting this government with its depiction of non-conventional families and drug use, and/or did it upset its corporate advertisers?

    I know we have gov’t censorship right here in Regina, that Professors in the Park series this summer. Boom, government censorship right in our faces, “don’t talk about the Israeli occupation…” boom. Shut down by City Council.

  7. Hi Talbot.
    The people Trailer Park Boys upset the most are those of us who appreciate good writing.

  8. #13 after 7 seasons, the Corps were likely happy with the show.
    #14 yer level of good writing is what?
    Graffiti on rail cars?

  9. Well, for starters, good writing is stuff that’s written by people who know the difference (in meaning) between “objective” and “subjective.”

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