My Thoughts on the Creative Enterprise Initiative funding vote today

17 Dec

Today`s Regional Council vote to continue funding The Creative Enterprise Initiative demonstrated what the city feels the role of art and culture is, a cheap commodity that can be measured not by the value it brings to society, but rather the value it brings in terms of dollars in the pockets of bureaucrats and as a tool of political social and ideological gentrification.

Despite the passionate pleas of artists at the meeting not to fund this monstrosity driven by profit Regional Councillors voted to continue funding this project that is a straight jacket for artistic expression. The CEI and the direction that it is taking is not led by artists but rather artistic managers, CEOs, and big festival promoters who care nothing about creating a local artistic scene which reflects the needs of our community but rather are focused on revenues, profit margins and bringing in sloppy commercial acts simply for profit making it more of a party throwing enterprise then a mirror into peoples soul, which is what art is suppose to be.

By voting to continue to finance this failure and then make comments about the need for unity in the artistic scene here in the region the message sent to artists was quite clear, shut up fall in line, know your place or else.

In older society the court jester was the one who kept the powers that be in check by being able to speak truth to power, even if that truth was one that no one wanted to hear. Over the course of the development of our society this role of truthsayer has fallen to the writers singers poets painters etc. The role of the artist in society has always been to hold up a mirror and show what is regardless of weather the reflection is not appeasing to the powers that be. With the advent of globalization political power rests not so much with politicians but rather corporations and conglomorates that get to call the tune. By funding the CEI and pushing for a profit based artistic expression the Region has stripped this noble role of the artist not by jailing them but by silencing them economically. How many artists can be critical of the destruction of our downtown community when those who pay there wages, or give the artists the venues etc have economic development as one of their key points. How can artists express the frustration at the high levels of police violence when this violence is part and parcel of the development that is one of the goals of the CEI.

Art when it becomes a commodity must be simple catchy and easy to sell. Like our bodies and our communitys for this to happenned it must be made pretty gentrified. Issues like rape culture, suicide, drug addiction, and genocide of Indigenous peoples isnt something that is pretty and as such doesnt sell. These serious topics that art has once explored and created a space for diolauge has gone out the window and like our neighbourhoods is now replaced with nice catchy plastic fake things and in a society where art , the method in which ideas mores and values are passed on and transmitted, becomes a commodity then the whole of a society becomes a commodity.

Todays vote was in many ways an intensification of the war on the poor as council just removed the canarys from the mine so we can just go on digging and digging until none of us can breathe

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