The threatened arts cuts seem to produce some passionate feelings -both for and against.

Over at my Arts and Thoughts blog, I’ve been engaged in an online debate with a working artist. Without posting the entire thing (which you can read here), I’m publishing snippets to promote discussion.

My online artist-acquaintance expressed his frustration with other Canadian artists, saying he’s “tired of (them) making themselves out to be victims of the gov’t..time to stand up and join the jungle…”. I expressed the idea that I don’t think most artists feel victimized, so much as their work is, and the idea that most artists are, to use his term, already “in the jungle”; this brought the following comment:

Quite honestly I think the Canada Council should be abolished altogether. Artists should be no different than mechanics or lawyers….make a living or do something else…or as I and many do….Do something else as well….But stop crying starving artist expecting the gov’t to bail you…it’s pathetic….

Expressing my feeling that I don’t think art should be utilitarian, the response came again:

Oh but it is very much a trade, at one time it was taught as a trade with internship, now anyone who can dig up the tuition at OCAD or afford the rental of a gallery wall can call themselves an artist. It is time to cull the herd…..I will never believe in gov’t handouts as a viable way of supporting the arts. I much prefer the American model of private foundations. They tend to be far more selective….

What do you think? Should artists be treated the same as lawyers and mechanics? Should their work be held to the same standards as other national economic engines? And is it time to “cull the herd”?

Any and all comments are welcome, from every side of this issue. The more we talk, the more we understand. Intransigence from any angle can’t be a good thing right now.