There’s a lot going on this week, as there always is, but I hope you don’t mind if I glance backward. Last Wednesday I went to the Playhouse to hear a Quebecois band from Canada, Le Vent du Nord. I also interviewed them earlier in the day on Fogou, a show I help produce on the local public radio station KHSU. (You listen to that interview HERE.) At the end of the night, I was talking with the guys in the band about how they make their way in modern America playing traditional music at a time when it isn’t easy for any musician to make enough to survive. Part of what makes it work for them is the fact that there are public radio stations in both countries like KHSU, where their esoteric music is played, and they're able to spend some time on the air talking about what they do. We ended up comparing the role of government in Canada and the U.S. in this day and age.
The simple fact is, our neighbors to the north have always enjoyed robust public support for the arts and it’s only getting better. Last year Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party pledged a $1.9 billion injection over the next five years supporting culture, including a $675 million increase in the budget for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and $550 million more for the Canada Council for the Arts.
What does the council do? “We champion and invest in artistic excellence through our grants, services, prizes and payments to Canadian artists and arts organizations,” they explain. The tour that brought Le Vent du Nord to Arcata was supported by a grant, as was the new CD they were selling after the show. That’s right, the government supports creative people.