It’ll take more than a quick Beatles tune with American cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the Prime Minister to prove his government is dedicated to supporting the arts, say the folks at the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.
Well, they didn’t quite say that.
They did, however, say they were upset by the recent changes to periodical funding in Canada—a change that merged existing funding into the new Canada Periodical Fund. The NLAC says they are worried it’ll have a strong negative impact on smaller literary and arts magazines in the country.
In a letter to the Minister of Heritage and Official Languages, NLAC chair Carmelita McGrath says the new qualifying benchmark of 5000 copies sold per year is an unacceptably high expectation to place on publications, and that it threatens the diversity of Canadian writing.
Local literary magazine Riddle Fence is offered up as an example that will not qualify under the new funding scheme.
Riddle Fence Managing Editor, Mark Callanan, says that while the funding change won’t kill them, but “it would have helped us out a lot.”
Callanan says the funding change is another sign of the Harper government’s lack of regard for arts and culture.
“Here’s how you kill cultural programs: You reduce their funding so that they have to struggle to maintain their standards of content with a smaller budget. Then, when what little audience they have disappears, you can justify quashing them entirely,” Callanan says.
That said, he’s still optimistic about it all.
“I’d like to believe the country I’m living in values not only physical well being enough to fund medicare, but values mental and spiritual well being enough to fund the arts. I think it was at one time, but these days I’m not so sure.”