44 posts categorized "arts and culture"

December 03, 2008

The D Word

Do any of these techniques of persuasion sound familiar to you?

Comparing apples to oranges. For example, "Our government has spent more on culture and heritage (and sports and recreation) than the previous government spent on the arts.

Demonizing the enemy. For example, identifying political opponents as a threat to democracy or the country's future (e.g., describing a perfectly legal course of action under a parliamentary democracy as "undemocratic" or describing the proposed coalition government as Liberals and "socialists" supported by "separatists").

Straw man. For example, distorting an opposing position and then arguing against that distortion (e.g., the attack ads on Stephane Dion, which literally turned the Leader of the Opposition into a cartoon representation of himself; the gross misrepresentations of what the Green Shift and other Opposition policies and platforms were all about during the last election).

Loaded question or loaded statement. For example, posing a question -- or making a statement -- with an implied position that the opponent does not have. (For example, during the Federal leaders' debate, Harper made this statement which totally misrepresented Dion's position and thinking: "Last night, Stephane, you panicked. You came on the set and announced a whole new economic plan in the middle of a national debate. I know why you did that because you look at your platform. Your platform says we will spend billions of dollars we don't have and go into deficit. (You) will raise taxes that will kill jobs.")

And, of course, there are other similar techniques that have become all-too-familiar to political observers -- like telling half-truths, omitting key facts, and attempting to rewrite history by way of selective amnesia.

They have a name for a political leader who has mastered this political modus operandi: who holds on to political power by capitalizing on popular prejudices; preying on people's emotions and fears; resorting to propaganda campaigns to sway the electorate; and who encourages his followers to "Rally for Canada" by showing their support for him and his party.

Demagogue.

"Demagoguery invites the externalization of hatred and anxiety, it is an institutional aid to projection; it justifies tabloid thinking, stereotyping, and the conviction that the world is made up of swindlers...There is no middle ground...the ultimate objective is vague, still the need for definiteness is met by the rule, `Follow the Leader.'"
- Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice

December 02, 2008

Sign Spotted at Political Rally in Peterborough, Ontario -- Quote from THE NATIONAL on CBC

Political Sign Spotted at Pro-Coalition Rally in Peterborough, Ontario

First in a series of photo posts from a noon rally in Peterborough.

Related: CBC.ca coverage about Harper government and public reaction to coalition government.

November 10, 2008

No MP Left Behind

Radar Dean Del Mastro's big news wasn't the talk of Toronto, and because that's where I was this past weekend, it wasn't until this morning that I got the scoop on the second biggest news story in Peterborough: that Dean Del Mastro has been named Parliamentary Secretary to Heritage Minister James Moore. (The really big news in Peterborough these days is that Serena Ryder's second album is due out tomorrow.)

Harper certainly works in mysterious ways. It wasn't that long ago that Dean Del Mastro was at the bottom of the learning curve on this file. And now he'll be one of the key influencers.

No MP left behind.

The response from the Peterborough arts community has been less than enthusiastic, as you might expect. It seems that the only one around town who is gushing about this appointment is Del Mastro himself. Surely Del Mastro wasn't expecting much more. This is the same community, after all, that

The Peterborough Examiner's coverage of Del Mastro's appointment included these comments from ARTSPACE Executive Director Iga Janik, who generally acts as a spokesperson for the broader Peterborough arts community:

Artspace director Iga Janik expressed concern that Del Mastro is too inexperienced and not involved enough in the local artistic scene to handle the file: "I don't know how qualified he is considering I don't see him at any of the cultural institutions or events in Peterborough," Janik said. "In light of all the cuts to the arts that the Conservative government have made, Del Mastro and Mr. Harper have a big job ahead to rectify the situation."

Janik made reference to the $34 million dollars in arts funding cuts. That's how much the Conservative government cut to cultural and heritage granting programs such as the Heritage Sustainability Program, Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund and the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sector on the eve of the election. Moore has since announced the Harper government has no plans to reverse those cuts. What's more, the spin-cycle of carefully crafted political messaging about arts funding has started up again.

The strategy is consistent with what we saw before the election -- attempt to confuse Canadians by talking about the entire Canadian Heritage budget, which includes arts, culture, sports, and recreation funding -- rather than sticking to the arts funding portion of that budget when arts funding is being discussed.

Here's Del Mastro quoted in the Peterborough Examiner (November 8, 2008):

"I'm proud to say that no government in the history of Canada has put more money into the Department of Canadian Heritage than ours has, that includes direct funding of arts and culture and promotion of arts and culture in Canada."

This kind of political double-speak does not bode well for Del Mastro's relationship with members of the arts community, local or national. Why not just talk about what you've actually spent on the arts -- and just the arts -- when that's the issue on the table?

Here's the thing. Artists are a tell-it-like-it-is kind of crowd with very finely tuned spin radar. They don't have a lot of respect for double-speak and carefully crafted political messages that dance around the truth

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters,  and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied behind Obama in the US election.

That's why musicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, songwriters, and every other kind of cultural worker you can think of rallied against Harper in our election.

Oh yeah. One more thing. The anything-but-Conservative election strategy wasn't just about the funding cuts.

It was also about the lack of respect for Canadian artists and what we do; and Harper's inability to appreciate what Canadian culture is and what it means to Canadians. 

The good news is that artists are the cultural canaries. We're good at reading cultural, political, and social trends; and finding compelling ways to let people know that the canary is sick, dying, or in danger of being murdered by its keeper.

The canary has been being plucked of its feathers for quite some time. The canary can't go on like this much longer. Hopefully, it will only be a matter of time until the rest of Canadians decide they want something better for their country; that they can feel that sense of hope and renewal our neighbors to the south experienced last Tuesday night.

Until that happens, the artists will continue to paint, dance, film, write, and storyboard the visions of what was, what is, and what could be. Stay tuned.

Related:
Dean Del Mastro on public vs. private funding for Canadian broadcasters: Canadian Heritage Committee Meeting in June

October 24, 2008

Canadian Writers May Finally Get That Pay Raise -- For Real!

Kudos to writer and editor Derek Finkle....

...for coming up with this very creative strategy for negotiating improved fees on behalf of Canadian magazine writers -- a group who have been waiting about 30 years for an improvement to the standard $1/word magazine writing fee.

Executive Director Position: Professional Writers Association of Canada

Pencils The following position has just been posted by the Professional Writers Association of Canada, Canada's National Association for freelance writers.

Deadline: Friday, Oct 31st at 5:00pm. Submit CV and cover letter to hr@pwac.ca.

Summary: The Executive Director (ED) is the senior staff member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) which serves over 600 non-fiction freelance writers across the country. The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the organization, and supervises other staff and contract employees. The Executive Director ensures that members' needs are met through delivery of services, mediation, professional development and communications about the industry. The ED, in conjunction with the President, is responsible for representing PWAC in the media, and within the writing and publishing industry generally.

The ideal candidate will have some or all of these qualifications:

  • A strong commitment to the organization's mission, values, vision and strategic objectives;
  • Knowledge and experience of the writing and publishing industry; particularly the needs of freelance writers;
  • Strong leadership and team management skills, as well as office management experience including staff supervision, financial operations etc.;
  • Proven ability to manage multiple projects, deadlines, and changing priorities;
  • Effective communication skills in various media including superior written and verbal skills, proficiency in computer skills, and an understanding of social networking using technology;
  • Ability to secure support and funds from government, and non-governmental sources;
  • Experience in the non-profit sector and working with a volunteer board of directors; and
  • Ability to communicate in both official languages is considered an asset.

Hours: This position is full-time. Hours will vary depending upon activities but are primarily 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Salary: The salary is commensurate with experience - range $45,000-$55,000/year. Unfortunately there is currently no benefit plan available.

Location: PWAC's National Office is based in downtown Toronto. Some travel is required.

Start date: As soon as possible.

Complete position description available.

October 22, 2008

Art on a Plate

Taste the Arts: The Peterborough Arts Umbrella is pleased to present the seventh annual Taste the Arts fine dining fundraiser on Sunday, October 26 - 6:00 pm at the Rare Grill House (166 Brock Street).

Agriculture

This year's theme is the 100 Mile Meal, featuring a gourmet, five-course meal created from ingredients found within a 100 mile radius of the city.

Five of Peterborough's top chefs will prepare an epicurean feast:

This is a highly popular event and a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a delectable, creative meal while supporting Peterborough's only full-service arts organization, dedicated to serving artists in Peterborough and the Kawarthas since 1984.

Proceeds from Taste the Arts support the Peterborough Arts Umbrella's annual programming costs.

Tickets are $100.00 each. An optional wine package featuring specially selected pairings is available for an additional $25.00. Call Rare Grill House at (705) 742-3737 or the Peterborough Arts Umbrella at (705) 749-3220 to reserve a place. Doors open at 5:00 pm and dinner begins at 6:00 pm.

* * *

A personal note: David Franklin was the chef who prepared the dinner for Grace United Church when Rev. Lyle Horn celebrated 25 years of ministry this past spring. It was amazing -- the event and the food. Dave's work can only be described as art on a plate. Here's a detail that still sticks in my head, many months after the fact: The salad bowls were fully edible.

Related:
Kawartha Choice:
FarmFresh Foods, locally grown. Lists local markets, retailers, and restaurants that specialize in locally grown foods; as well as places where you can buy food straight off the farm.

October 21, 2008

Post-Election Blog Reno

Img_7027 I decided to do some fall cleaning here at the blog. I've reorganized some existing categories and added a bunch of new content including,

What Makes a Great City? What Makes a City Great? This is a list of links that focus on urban development. I found a lot of really interesting material that focuses on waterfront renewal -- the biggest mistakes cities make when they change their waterfronts and articles about examples of waterfront renewal processes that have been managed brilliantly, with spectacular results. Other links focus on transportation, culture, creating public spaces, creating livable, healthy, green cities -- all issues that I'm thinking about as Peterborough evolves.

Alternative and Indie Media Voices: This is a roundup of alternative media (newspapers, radio stations, magazines, etc.) as well as links that discuss the importance of an independent media, the role of the newspaper ombudsman, why media concentration should be of concern to all Canadians, etc.

Writing Links and Creativity Links: Links to writing- and creativity- related resources for my fellow creative types.

Get the Big Picture: A handful of links to TV documentary and film documentary sources, etc. More to come.

Where We've Been: A handful of political and social justice history links with many more to come.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Democracy?: As much for my own use as anything, this is a cluster of links that I turn to on a regular basis when I need to touch base with someone else who is frustrated with the way democracy works in this country, but who isn't about to give up on Canada or working for change anytime soon.

Change the World: Links to some of my favorite get-pumped-up-and-change-the-world songs. If anyone knows of another song-linking application that would ideally allow me to provide a short sound clip, I'd love to have some recommendations. I tried to find a decent one that works with iTunes, but I didn't have any luck.

I've archived some of my very election-focused sidebars until the next election.

October 15, 2008

Peterborough: Possibility City

"I'm so disappointed in Peterborough. Now I remember why I ran away when I was 16."
- A Peterborough voter commenting on the election results, quoted in today's Peterborough Examiner.

I believe in Peterborough and its potential to become something more. This is what I think about when I think about Peterborough and its potential.

Peterborough, the ethical city; Peterborough, the just city; Peterborough, the visionary city; Peterborough, the creative city; Peterborough, the innovative city; Peterborough, the eco-city; Peterborough, the multicultural city; Peterborough, the all-ages city; Peterborough, the hate-free city; Peterborough, the bullying-free city; Peterborough, the no-one-goes-hungry city; Peterborough, the barrier-free city; Peterborough, the entrepreneurial city; Peterborough, the healthy city; Peterborough, the active city; Peterborough, the sustainable city; Peterborough, the local foodbasket city; Peterborough, the welcoming city; Peterborough, the politically engaged city; Peterborough, the public spaces city; Peterborough, the indie media city, Peterborough, possibility city.

A lot of people are working towards these various ends.

And not all progress has to come through political channels.

We can take a two-tiered approach to working for change in our communities:

1. Add your voice to the loud chorus of Canadians insisting on democratic reform now;
2. Work for change through all channels available to you as a citizen.

Don't give in to cynicism or apathy. Let frustration fuel your resolve to work for change.

October 13, 2008

Signs of the Times

Anyonebutdean

Voteforart




Anyone But Dean
and
Vote for Art
Signs at
ARTSPACE
Peterborough.



Fall for Anything




The first time I heard this song was at Showplace Peterborough about three years ago. Jeremy Fisher was opening for Sarah Harmer. When he played "Fall for Anything" I could hardly breathe because the lyrics spoke to me so powerfully. They were about the importance of standing for something in your life:

"If you don't stand for something
you will fall for anything."

I thought I would give Jeremy the last word as Canada heads off to the polls tomorrow. His words are wise and inspiring and he's a Canadian artist.

Think about what you stand for and what you don't want to fall for, Peterborough Riding. That includes a promise of a cell phone tower battery plant that might materialize some day -- a promise that made the front page of The Peterborough Examiner on Friday.

Yes, it sounds exciting, as Dean Del Mastro promises always do.

Yes, it's impeccably timed, as Dean Del Mastro promises always are.

And, yes, it's something that may happen in the future -- as opposed to a "done deal" -- as Dean Del Mastro promises often are. (When you see signed contracts, dirt being shoveled, public meetings, or hiring blitzes, depending on the type of project being discussed, you can feel certain that the project in question has moved beyond the realm of mere possibility.)

So vote for on the basis of what you know to be the facts in this election, rather than flashy promises about trains, resorts, and battery plants.

This election is about the future of Canada and the Planet: what we stand for as a nation; our priorities as Canadians; and what we refuse to fall for or tolerate from our elected representatives any longer.

Choose wisely.