CIRPA, NDP React to Tories Canceling PromArt Program

CIRPA, NDP React to Tories Canceling PromArt Program
The Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) has spoken out against the Conservatives’ decision to axe programs that help promote Canadian culture abroad, calling it "nothing more than a cynical political move" that will only end up hurting Canadian business.

As we previously reported, on Friday (August 8), the Tories cut funding to PromArt, a $4.7-million federal program that gave artists grants to tour aboard. In the party’s decision, Conservatives cited recipients such as Toronto’s Holy Fuck and former CBC broadcaster Avi Lewis as "not exactly the foot that most Canadians would want to see put forward." The Stephen Harper government also cut funding last week to the Trade Routes Program, which helped cultural groups prepare to export and sell in international markets.

In a statement, the CIRPA argues the cuts "cannot come at a worse time," saying that with shrinking CD sales and illegal downloading musicians are already living on poverty wages. Also, the organization says Canadian musicians are increasingly dependent on international sales and tours to survive, and without the programs’ assistance, the cuts will be bad for Canada financially.

"More and more, Canadian musicians and music companies are depending on export revenues through sales and live performances to survive,” the CIRPA says. "Direct access to foreign markets is critical to stimulate new sales outside of Canada. Last year, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association successfully lead 21 companies to Japan on a single trip that resulted in $1.4 million in export business immediately for Canadian firms. This is money that will be reinvested in developing new, young talent in Canada.”

The NDP was also not pleased with Conservatives cutting the programs. "[The cuts] all seem to indicate concerns that are based in personal taste and conservative ideology, rather than in how to best reflect the diversity of culture in Canada and how best to represent Canadian cultural expression," Bill Siksay, the NDP's culture and heritage critic, told the CBC. "It really does seem to play to the most right-wing part of the Conservative party."

The PromArt program is set to end March 31, 2009.