As I was listening to the CBC Radio the other day, I found out that this week we are celebrating Culture Days in Canada. There are free cultural events happening from coast to coast in praise of all things Canadiana. What I find ironic is that it is our Conservative government who created this state-mandated revelry. On a number of occasions the Conservative government have been very antagonistic to the arts community by reducing funding and making smug comments about those who receive government grants. I think that if Canadian culture is to survive, there needs to be more of a movement within households and communities to support the arts, because for the foreseeable future the federal government is only going to give token gestures and meaningless lip-service.
Now that my spirited political views have been aired, I think that I will take some time to reflect on the Canadian arts scene. Granted, I am by no means an insider in the local arts community, and I probably represent the average Jill Six-Pack in terms of my expertise, I do have an opinion. With the amount of talent in Canada, I feel that I can support Canadian artists of all descriptions without that nagging sense of obligation. Though musicians and television productions do owe a lot of their success to the rules regulating Canadian content, many artists and shows manage to find success within other markets. I think that people underestimate the level of talent we possess simply because they don't know who is Canadian and who is American. And by "they" I am referring to Americans. It is almost devious how our accents sometimes sound identical to those of our southern neighbours and we manage to blend in without exposure. Take note Arizona politicians.
I have digressed from the topic of Canadian culture with yet another political reference. With this blog entry I planned on praising the merits of our writers, musicians, and artists, but I don't think that this is really all that necessary. I don't need a government-mandated pseudo holiday or Entertainment Tonight Canada to reflect upon the amount of talent that my country has produced. The area where I feel that I can do better is my support (or lack thereof) for local culture. I should take in local theatre productions more often than once every five years, attend film festivals and squint at paintings whenever an interesting art exhibit comes to town. At the very least, I think I should put in an appearance at the arena more often. These are the type of institutions that we need to get behind. I highly doubt the Vancouver Canucks are much affected by those who jump on and off their bandwagon with the alacrity of a gymnast, but theatre troupes, aspiring musicians and small-market teams will die without our collective support.
These inaugural Culture Days have caused me to make this resolution in favour of my local arts community, to reflect on my behaviour as a Canadian. Being patriotic is slightly more complicated than getting festive on Canada Day, it means being a positive ambassador for your country as a whole and within your community. Generally, I think that I do a good job in this role, but there is definitely room for improvement. However, I do drink local beer, so at least that can be said for me.