Culture at election time? Some things never change!
Montreal, March 24, 2014 – There’s just one question on Diversité Artistique Montréal (DAM)’s lips: why do we always have to move mountains to get culture on the debating table every single time there’s a municipal, provincial or federal election? Well, we’re not fooled by their answers, but still we can’t help but wonder.
Do the Pauline Marois, Philippe Couillards, Françoise Davids and François Legaults of this world really never visit museums, never go to see a single festival or a single show, never take their children or grandchildren to the movies, never listen to any music in their campaign bus or simply never read any of the innumerable critically-acclaimed novels that are published in Quebec and around the world every year? Just think for a second about the electoral leverage the cultural sector represents and you’d be forgiven for assuming our political leaders are either devoid of any appreciation of art and culture whatsoever (which we hope is not the case) or politically unaware or naive. Let’s go based on the second assumption.
Certainly, judging by the relevant statistics,1 this sector seems full of promise on many levels since culture plays such an important role in the economic landscape in Montreal and across the province. In fact, the cultural sector is so economically vibrant it generates $1.1 billion for the Quebec government and $700 million for the federal government—that’s $1.8 billion a year in government revenue. Now can the politicians really afford to just sit on those figures when they’re campaigning? Apparently so, since that’s exactly what happened again when culture was swept under the carpet at the recent “leaders’” debate.
But what is truly worrying is not so much the actual numbers our sector gets budgeted for, rather the fact that our future elected representatives, whoever they might be, don’t seem to be living in the same city we do. They don’t seem to be breathing in the culture of this city and this province, they don’t appear to be aware of this creative buzz that’s making Montreal one of the world capitals of culture, and they don’t seem to give two hoots about the thousands of artists and cultural workers whose daily lives are what give this unique place the exceptional quality of life it’s so renowned for—a quality of life we all enjoy.
Sad, isn’t it?
1 Read the study: Culture in Montreal: Economic Impacts and Private Funding,
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, 2009.