Green Party of Canada Platform: 4.16 Arts and culture: Beauty and integrity

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

4.16 Arts and culture: Beauty and integrity

“Arts and cultural activities are at the heart of communities – they make communities more attractive places to live, they help bring a community to life, they define a community’s unique characteristics, they attract tourists and they help communities compete economically around the world.”

The Canada Council for the Arts

We couldn’t resist. Shouldn’t at least one political party speak in praise of beauty? We live in times of increasing utility and growing ugliness. Strip malls, parking lots, urban littered and graffiti-ed streets do not ennoble us as a people.

It would be a fairly dubious notion that government anywhere could create beauty, but government can create the right conditions to protect and support those who do.

At every level of our society, arts and cultural activities help define our identities and communities. They unlock our individual and collective creativity, and help Canadians share our ideas worldwide. From surreal circus to incisive films, to renowned actors and singers, Canadians are experiencing cultural breakthroughs on the international arts and culture scene. Today, over 600,000 Canadians are employed in the cultural sector.

The Green Party understands that our future, our sense of who we are as a nation, depends on policies that ensure a thriving, diverse and socially responsible cultural community as part of an inclusive Canada. We will continue and increase support for those cultural institutions that are within the Canadian Heritage portfolio: Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board (NFB), and Telefilm Canada. We will reverse the funding cuts of the Harper government for the exchange of artists and the performance of Canadian arts abroad, as they are a vital aspect of effective diplomacy and artistic expression. We will establish the equivalent of the Japanese National Treasure Program where outstanding individual artists are supported to perfect their crafts.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Increase funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations including the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, orchestras, theatres and publishers. The goal will be to make increases in this sector commensurate with increases in support over the years for other sectors such as transport, energy and health care.
  • Provide stable base funding for the CBC so it can continue to provide quality Canadian content television and radio programming in both official languages to all Canadians.
  • Ensure that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) reserves more bandwidth for independent and non-profit stations.
  • Enact legislation that requires cinemas and video chains to have at least 20% Canadian content.
  • Restore and improve arm’s length principles in the governance of arts and cultural institutions and agencies under federal jurisdiction.  In keeping with such a position, we believe that the heads of Canada’s cultural organizations such as the CRTC, Canada Council, CBC and Telefilm Canada should not be appointed by the political party in power but by an arm’s length committee made up of competent people representative of the various diverse stakeholders in Canadian society.
  • Seek greater support and adequate resources for arts grants programs.
  • Seek increased funding incentives for artists and art events to tour Canada’s rural regions.
  • Provide protection for indigenous intellectual and artistic property rights.
  • Increase support for community arts programs and facilities across Canada by establishing stable base funding at a set percentage of the federal budget.
  • Equalize federal funding for arts and culture among provinces, territories and municipalities to make it consistent with the provinces and municipalities that have the highest current standards.
  • Provide incentives to all provinces and territories to restore and improve arts and culture components in schools and extra-curricular activities not only in urban but also in rural areas.
  • Extend income tax relief and incentives to artists (on the very successful models established by Ireland and the city of Berlin). Doing so will:
    • Encourage artists to settle in Canada and build businesses here.
    • Result in other (usually) white collar “clean” industries that follow arts jobs and dollars.
    • Help to provide meaningful jobs to university and college graduates.
    • Enrich schools and their offerings, thereby attracting immigrants to settle in rural areas.
    • Revitalize and discover talent in communities where traditional industries are declining and young people are leaving.
  • Follow and implement recommendations of the Canadian Conference of the Arts in order to enable artists to access various social programs including Employment Insurance, Workers’ Compensation and the Canada Pension Plan.
  • Change the Canada Revenue Act to allow arts and culture workers to benefit from a tax averaging plan that will take into account the fact that lean years often precede and follow a good year when a show is produced, a book is published, or a grant or a prize is won.
  • Protect Canada’s cultural identity during trade negotiations.
  • Restore the government-provided transport service (eliminated by the Harper government) to allow the transport of exhibitions between museums and galleries.
  • Protect the copyright for artists so it is not surrendered to museums and galleries in the process of permitting exhibits.

“People want to live and work in vibrant communities filled with creative people and educational opportunities. An active Arts and Cultural life in a community draws members of the creative class to it. Thus not only for quality of life reasons but also for hard-nosed economic motives it is important to support a vibrant Arts and Cultural life in communities in order to attract talented people and companies to power the economies of those communities.”

Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class

Economic Rationale

  • The Green Party of Canada applies full cost accounting to its understanding of economics. We recognize that compared to other sectors receiving government support, the arts and culture sector is under-funded.

  • We will pay for improved support for this sector by using the tax and subsidy systems available to government to encourage “clean” industries and discourage polluting industries as follows:

  • Given that arts and culture provide great quantifiable benefits to health and education, investments in arts and culture across communities and educational establishments may fall, in part, under investments in health and education.

  • Taking into consideration full cost accounting, the Green Party of Canada is able to substantiate that investment in the arts rapidly pays for itself many times over.

  • Revenue neutral tax shifting taxes what society does not want, such as pollution, and removes taxes from what society does want, such as employment and creativity. The Green Party of Canada will redistribute funds in a revenue neutral manner, allowing the tax system to favour non-polluting, high-employment, highly creative, knowledge-based economic activities without increasing personal income taxes.  For example, the Green Party of Canada will remove the GST from arts and culture products and services while imposing a carbon tax on burning hydrocarbons and releasing their by-products into the atmosphere.

  • Resource taxes such as carbon taxes are refunded to taxpayers by reducing income tax. Those with low income who do not pay income tax will be compensated through a formula and mechanism similar to the way the Goods and Services Tax is refunded by quarterly payments.

  • The Green Party of Canada will maintain breadth and flexibility in its economic calculations.  We are able to think in terms of GDP and quantifiable economics, which can demonstrate that arts and culture not only makes an enormous contribution to the economic activity of this country – but also contributes to the Canadian Index of Well-being (see Part 1: The Green Economy).

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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