By Exclaim! StaffToday the Conservatives are to cancel the $4.7 million PromArt program, which sends artists abroad to promote Canadian culture, because the money "went to groups that would raise the eyebrows of any typical Canadian,” a government official told Canwest News Service. And prominent on the list of offending groups singled out by the Feds are Toronto’s Holy Fuck, a "general radical” and a Top 40 songwriter who pens tracks about women being high.
The cut comes as the government attempts to slash spending across the board, with senior Conservative officials targeting PromArt when they found out that some of the program's recipients were "not exactly the foot that most Canadians would want to see put forward,” the official told Canwest on the condition of anonymity.
Some of the recipients that caught the eye of the Conservatives include:- experimental outfit Holy Fuck, who received $3,000 for a week long tour of the UK - former CBC broadcaster Avi Lewis, who was granted $5,000 and now works for the Arabic news network al Jazeera and described as a "general radical,” in a Conservative memo obtained by Canwest. - B.C. songwriter Tal "She's So High” Bachman, who got $16,500 to go South Africa and Zimbabwe to play music festivals. - "left-wing and anti-globalization think-tank” the North South Institute, which received a $18,000 grant so its representatives could attend a conference in Cuba.
"I think there's a reasonable expectation by taxpayers that they won't fund the world travel of wealthy rock stars, ideological activists or fringe and alternative groups,” the source said.
However, the grant program funded travel to promote mainstream Canadian art as well. As the news agency pointed out, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, for example, received $50,000 to help take an exhibit of Inuit art to Brazil. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet received $40,000 for a U.S. tour. And former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache got $3,000 to go to Cuba to lecture about the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Foreign Affairs awarded more than 300 grants in 2006/2007, and on its website says the grant program "provides funding to Canadian artists and arts organizations for the promotion of Canadian culture abroad, in alignment with Canada's foreign policy and trade priorities.” But the way it looks now, it should read "provided funding.”