As reported over the weekend by CTV and on www.ctvwinnipeg.ca, a small group of Winnipeg artists may hurt the masses. A festival meant to promote Prairie artists has hit a public-relations snag, with a number of artists signing a petition objecting to an energy company’s sponsorship of the event.
The National Arts Centre (NAC) is putting on the Prairie Scene Festival in Ottawa and in Gatineau this spring. Billed as the largest-ever gathering of artists from Manitoba and Saskatchewan outside of the prairies, it will feature performances and exhibitions from 500 musicians, dancers, actors and artists.
One of the three major sponsors is Enbridge, a Canadian energy company. A petition signed by artists, including novelist Miriam Toews, Winnipeg indie rockers The Weakerthans and musician and Winnipeg Bomber Troy Westwood, objects to the support from the company.
Enbridge has sponsored three previous festivals in the Scene series, which have represented the arts from different regions in the country. No one objected in past years when Enbridge sponsored the Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia Scene festivals, Rosemary Thompson of NAC says. According to Thompson, sponsorship from private companies such as Enbridge is necessary to support arts endeavours in Canada. Since the petition became public, the NAC has received numerous letters of support for Enbridge from arts organizations and other groups, Thompson says.
In my opinion these artists (and all participants) should have the option not to present their works at the event. That is their right. If they do not agree with the sponsor, they can choose not to show their wares.
Or perhaps they should have the well funded environmental groups who are probably behind this tactic against Enbridge, fund the event. Perhaps these artists should understand it is companies like Enbridge (and others) who make such events happen. Without their support of the arts and causes in Canada these “starving artists” would really be starving.
I presume these artists may think the government should pay for everything. Possibly it is because these “starving artists” don’t pay taxes either and they feel those that do pay taxes should foot the bill (and buy their products). I do believe it is time that those artists who think this way should each undertake to secure a minimum of $50,000 or more in sponsorship for an event like this to ensure their entry to show themselves and their talents.
But they will probably be the same ones who cry that the government won’t support them. These are just one person’s thoughts, let me know yours.