Left to right: Adam Ostry, Linda Leith, Lorraine Segato, Deanne Taylor
Session Six Urban Diversity and Cultural Expression: The Coca-colonization of Local Identities?
LINDA LEITH, President & Artistic Director, Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival (bio)
LORRAINE SEGATO, Recording Artist and Filmmaker, Get Off My Dress Productions (bio)
DEANNE TAYLOR, Playwright and Director, Co-Director of the theatre company VideoCabaret (bio)
ADAM OSTRY, Program Chair, CIPA Board Member (bio)
[TAPE 1 SIDE 1]
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome. Welcome to Saturday night. This is about culture, so anyone with a Luger or other weapons should have left it at the door. We are your entertainment for the evening, or at least my guests are your entertainment for the evening, at least we hope. The theme of this panel is the impact of globalization on storytelling, on our own storytelling, producing marginalia, etc, etc. Im going to explain the methodology. Im going to play slightly more than traffic cop, but I will essentially be traffic cop. We have three illustrious guests here this evening. Now, the first thing Im going to do is, were going to do a five minute introduction from each panelist. Some will be speaking to you, others will be combining speech and video I know some of the purists dont like videos but I think youll enjoy this. Then, in order to focus discussion, I shall be asking a set of three questions to the panelists in order to engage them in a dialogue that you will witness. At which point we will take a break and then we will come back and the dialogue will be not so much between the four of us but between ourselves and you. That is the purpose of this evenings activity. And then we will break and go back and have much drinking and much discussion. Alright. Now
so [crowd hoots and hollers]
promises to be raucous indeed. I would like to introduce your panelists this evening to you in the order in which they are seated, and I will give you the order in which they will talk later, but anyway. To my extreme left, and not necessarily political, Madame DEANNE TAYLOR. Shes a playwright, she has the distinction of having been a mayoral candidate in the city of Toronto in the 80s, and indeed she shares with Barbara Hall the distinction of having come in second to the winning mayor candidate as one of the Hummer sisters. DEANNE TAYLOR. She runs her own theatre company at the moment. Second, is Dona LORRAINE SEGATO. Senorina, si. Overa, 29 U.S. She was the lead of the rock group Parachute Club many of you may remember "Rise Up, Rise Up," thats Lorraine. She made about eight records, she has won numerous Canadian and foreign awards, she is also a filmmaker and a cultural activist. And the third, to my immediate left, is LINDA LEITH, the founder and artistic director of Blue Metropolis, Metropol Blue, an international literary festival in Montreal. Now, I would like to ask each to give a five minute introduction. Now look, I have this printed off especially, hm? Two minutes. So you must respect five or six minutes each. Im going to start with Senorina Lorraine and then we shall go to Deanne and then Linda. Lorraine.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Thanks Adam. Im going to approach this differently then I generally do in that Im going to show you a piece of work that I did. Its a piece of work based on a film that was completed that took two years to do and it was about a small street in what was then a community and now the largest city of Toronto. Its a street called Queen Street West. For those of you who have travelled there, you have probably seen it as the worlds largest entertainment complex in Canada right now but there was a period of time between 1975 and 1985 when it was inhabited by mostly immigrants and light industrial buildings and artists. When there was a confluence of energies and those energies created a spark of activity that basically changed the face of Toronto. Im just going to tell you a little bit about myself. He mentioned that Im a musician and a songwriter and a filmmaker. I have this great opportunity within my work to be able to travel across this country so many times and around the world and see firsthand myself how when you get people in a room together, like tonight, or like a concert, and you get them focused on the same common idea, the power of that is immense. It not only changes politics, it changes cities, it changes families, it changes lives. And so one of the reasons I want to show you this clip is that, I know this is going to seem like self-serving because Deanne is here and shes in it, but I want to play you a clip from the film and Im going to set it up by saying we had a mayor and he was re-running for office and the Hummer sisters, which is the theatrical group that Deanne is a part of decided to run for mayor. And what youre going to see is sort of a very brief thing about what took place in this time period. If you could hit the lights by any chance? Great. And crank that volume. [Film begins]
[Film ends. Applause] Thanks. One of the things that Im not going to talk to you about I have an unproven cultural theory, but Im not going to talk to you about that. I actually want to seek out opinions and ideas from the audience because I think that tonight is a night in which you need to be engaged. But I do want to say that in framing, everything that Im framing around the idea of culture, Im going to give you my definition of culture, which is that is its defined by a whole complex set of things which are emotional, material, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual. They are the futures that characterizes a society or a social group. So when I speak around my cultural ideas, Im not just talking about art, Im talking about all the food that feeds us. It is in fact a thing that we are the storytellers the stories we are telling you up here and the stories we are hearing from you are the storytellers of our sustainable cities if we continue to tell our stories and to nurture each other in the telling of those stories, we can continue to seek out solution and I would like to think of myself as an artist anyway as a solution-seeker. Im a little bit of an idealist but you need people like me. So what Im going to put forward in our discussion is the idea of integration, is integrating your cultural life with the solutions we are seeking to fix. You know, the challenges that we face in our cities as they grow.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Thanks Lorraine. Deanne?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Good evening everyone. Its a real honour to be here and thanks Lorraine. That documentary, by the way, is about the only history there is so far in this county of the incredibly vibrant developments that took place in the 70s and the 80s in the art scene...people here who have contributed so much
there is almost no documentation, certainly no broadcasted or published documentation of that period. There is vast amounts of stuff in all of our archives but Id like to thank Lorraine for making that documentary because it is actually the first step of making history out of the work that has already been done in this country. I inherited my interest in political ideas from my parents. My mother is the queen of lost causes, you know, really excellent lost causes of course. My late father was Malcolm Taylor who founded the Journal of Canadian Public Administration, and was a key consultant on the design of Canadas health system. So at my parents very pink social-democratic knees I learned to respect public service, and to love politics. I learned that Canadians were people who paid for each others tonsillectomies. I learned to value the complexities of Canadas democratic debate so I am really honoured to be here with all of you this evening in this temple of debate. After growing up in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, I studied and travelled from Morocco to India and lived in London and went to film school for a while. I returned to Toronto, in the late seventies where I helped to form the theatre company VideoCabaret, so named because we used the first portable video-cameras, 75 junk TVs, and a rock band to animate our insane musical plays about life in the media age.
Thanks to really courageous assistance from the arts Councils, we created and toured these productions to London, England, New York, and across Canada several times. After the world tours we settled on Queen Street West where we did the Hummer for Mayor ART vs. Art festival where we still have our studio and our little theatre.
At that time, the late seventies and early eighties, thanks to all who had gone before us, my generation of Canadian artists believed that history was on our side. We had shaken off the imperial ghosts of France and Britain. We thought that Canada was a real country, a country that could create and cherish its own culture, and many of us dedicated ourselves to that vision. In my theatre company, playwright Michael Hollingsworth has spent the past twenty-five years dramatizing the history of Canada in twelve plays called THE HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE OF THE SMALL HUTS which tell our story from Donnacona and Cartier to Mulroney and Bush. Over the same period I have written & directed plays, musicals, and many multi-media political cabarets, starting with ART vs. Art, on the occasions of the most dramatic events of our made-for-TV-democracy: including Liberal and Conservative Leadership Conventions, believe it or not; plays about Liberal leadership conventions, Federal Elections; municipal elections: and my very favourite, the Quebec referendum of 1995. These plays we hoped would try to bring the political process to life for people who were really weary of the news and were depressed by staying home and watching television and wanted to come out to the theatre, sit with their neighbours and love their politics even as it was being critiqued. In creating these plays about our country, our city, and our culture weve drawn deeply from the wealth of Toronto, the talent pool of brilliant diversity that lives in our centre, like Toronto. Out of dozens of collaborators, too many to name, let me give you a couple of examples. Graham Greene and Gary Farmer, from the very first generation of native actors, influenced the development of our History Plays, which are based on a three founding nations concept of Canada and just would not have had the authenticity without them. Actors like Arturo Fresolone, who fled from Argentina offered Latin colonial perspectives to our company to the development of that work and stamped as well aesthetic things like his spicy Commedia acting style on the whole company. Mojah Benn and other members of Torontos Caribbean community advanced our interest in older theatre traditions by introducing us to Trinidad carnival artists, and that led to co-founding an annual masquerade band for the Toronto Caribana parade and to an exchange with Caribbean artists that goes on every year and to a delightful collaboration that has informed the design of one of our theatre work. You know, all of it back to similar roots in the carnival.
So our theatre companys vision of creating Canadian theatre, theatre that is Canadian in content and form, theatre that is Canadian precisely in its French, British, Iroquois, Trinidadian, Greco, Hebrew, Asian, influences. This vision has sustained us for 25 years, it has sustained us through the economic, social and arts policies of 3 federal, 3 provincial, and 4 municipal governments. So these are my modest credentials for assuming some of the following immodest positions. I said that 25 years ago, as young artists, we believed Canada was ready to grow and nurture its own culture. But now, 25 years later I have the terrible sense that most of Canadas financial, political, and media establishment aspires to be nothing more the leaders of a state of the art colony, because that is what we are. Canada has perfected colonialism, first French, then British, and now American. We have shaped our culture to these ever more subtle forms of coercion and reward and we scarcely know or desire any better. In other words globalization is not new for Canadas artists, nor for people in other fields who are trying to create something original and local to compete with or replace imported goods. Canada has been so-called globalized continuously for 450 years, just never more so. Now I know we can make a distinction between imperialism and globalization but well do that later in discussion. So yeah, not much. So what are we as a society doing about it? Culturally speaking, not nearly enough. The artists who started out twenty-five years ago are hitting a very low, very hard, ceiling. The young ones dont have room even to start growing. Whether we are just starting out in the theatre or whether our skill and accomplishment have grown to maturity, original work, original Canadian plays and productions are starved of investment. Funding has shrunk since 1985 and is shrinking the theatrical imagination of Canadian playwrights down to one-person shows.
Ok, public funding is down. What about audience attendance? Up, but not enough to finance the growth, the creativity, the quality that I think the arts scene should be aspiring to. And here, in reaching the audience, our nations nervous system, our media betray us shamefully. Our media have their eyes, ears, and lips fixed slavishly on American news, American entertainment, and God forbid, American
entertainment-news. It is so much easier, and more profitable, to process the starlet-du-jour, than to develop the knowledge and judgement it would take to illuminate the truly important, not to mention the truly glamourous and truly sexy story of new play creation, that is the story of Canadian theatre. So, there are two major factors which have conspired for many years to keep Canadian culture weak, and which are now close to the kill:
1. Were not paying the price, as a self-respecting society, for serious art.
2. We are buying, as a self-negating colonial society, all the entertainment we can eat from the mother country, Hollywood.
I hope this evening we will talk about that. Talk about how we make art, that is, too quickly and cheaply. Talk about how we publicize art, that is almost invisibly. Talk about how we finance or fund art, which we do stingily, politically, expediently. And especially, I hope we talk about how we might do much better, because we must. And I say must because I believe that a nations artistic accomplishment is the key to a countrys confidence and cultural confidence is contagious. It is the key to creativity in science, in business, in every field of life. The key to resisting global mono-culture.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Thanks Deanne. Thanks a lot. Madame Leith.
LINDA LEITH: Thank you and I would like first of all to thank the Couchiching Institute for inviting me. Im very honoured to have been invited and I would like particularly to thank Margaret Lefebvre. I would also like to thank the institute for including a session on culture because sitting through many, most, of the panels of the last few days on social, economic, political, environmental issues and being, I must say, quite humbled by the magnitude and complexity of the problems that many of the speakers and many of the members of the audience have been grappling with. I have found myself wondering from time to time about my place here as a novelist, as a literary translator, as a former magazine editor, as someone who has recently founded the Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal, and wondering, I suppose, partly about the difference of language that you use, and the people, the speakers, and most of the people in the audience here, use a different language from the language Im likely to use, and even the title of this conference, Cities and Globalization, its not a formulation that I would normally come across and globalization is such a huge, such a vast word and its implications are vast as well, so that I suppose in thinking about these questions, the first, the place that I have begun, is by trying to translate that, cities and globalization, into a language that is more familiar to me and to try to understand and to connect to what youve been talking about. Basically, I begin, and what Ill be talking here about this evening, is Blue Metropolis, which has come to be known familiarly as Blue Met, and of course a metropolis is a city, its an international literary festival. We can begin to see some connections. Ive often been asked, and Ive been asked in the last couple of days, "why is it called Blue Metropolis?" and "why blue?"- and maybe well come to some of that later but I think of it and one of the ways we talk about the festival is as a city of words and I hope Ill explain a little bit why that is. But One of the many people, if we can have one connection, to cities and mayors and kinds of issues weve been discussing over the last few days in this room. One of the people, one of the many people, who has asked me what Blue Metropolis refers to and what it means is the former mayor of Montreal, mayor Bourque, who asked me that question and when I explained what it was, a kind of city, an imaginary city, en ville imaginaire, and he said "ah, en ville de rêves" a city of dreams. And when you start thinking about it in those terms then its very close to some of the things that Ive been hearing, especially this morning in this room, but also I start thinking about other things that Ive worked on in the past and when I was a magazine editor and happened to be living in Budapest, of all places, a completely other city, one that hasnt been mentioned in this room as far as I know. I edited a special issue of that magazine which was called the Budapest of the Imagination and it was about contemporary work, contemporary visual arts and poetry that I had had translated from Hungarian to English anyway, it came out about ten years ago. But today, in this room, and all over the last few days, Ive heard some of the following things. Ive heard, especially towards the end of the talks that some of the speakers have given in this room about the need to understand the other, about the need to imagine the future and imagine the future for future generations. Ive heard about the need to acknowledge that a city has a soul and about the need for a forum for dialogue, a forum for an exchange, for a place in which a conversation can take place between different members of a society, different people, different groups, within a city. And when I hear those things, then I start hearing about the Toronto of the imagination or the Bogota or the Durban of the imagination. And I come from a very different place, my work is very different, I speak in some ways a different language, but I think, and I think its certainly clear, that our means differ, but our interests and our goals may not in fact be that far apart. And very briefly, because Im sure Im going to be having a two-minute sign flash in front of me any minute
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Just about now.
LINDA LEITH: Ill just say very briefly what Blue Metropolis is and I hope to be able to elaborate a little bit further. It is a international literary festival which takes place every April in Montreal. It is multilingual. It takes place, there are events that take place, in French, in English, in Spanish or in some combination of those. In any given year there will be, so far weve only had four festivals, there will be any number of other languages in which people will read. This year we had Dari, which is the language in which the three Afghan women writers that we had invited presented their work. We had Hungarian, we had Galician , we had Italian, and we had German. So, one of the things is, its an international literary festival where, you know, includes stars such as Mavis Gallant, whos eightieth birthday is tomorrow, or Normal Mailer, Marie-Claire Blais, stars from France and Belgium and the United Kingdom and everywhere. It also, however, includes homeless people, and people who are recent immigrants who have not yet learned French, let alone English. And it also includes high school students and a large number of students from different levels of the educational system and it is a forum for crossing national and political and ethnic and linguistic and social divisions because you get those writers in that one room talking to one another and talking to the audience which is itself composed of people from these different communities, and worlds, and languages, etc. And it therefore plays, I think its a literary festival thats more than a literary festival, and it plays a remarkable role in Montreal and Ill leave it at that for now.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Perfect. Thank you very, very much. Now were going to, Im going to, were going to structured dialogue around three thematic questions, if you will. The first one stems from some of things that all three of you said and its about making and consuming marginalia. Dominant vs. marginal cultural expression. Deanne, you talked about colonial patterns of consumption, you talked about your organic access to a community of human beings with whom you shared through the diversity of those people, common sets of stories that you then took, used and created. My question to you, Lorraine, based on all of this, do you think, given the ubiquity of American blockbuster $150 million U.S. dollar films, could you make that today? Do you feel, do any of you feel, that there is a desire to consume the stuff? Is there a capacity to have our stories told and consumed? Who wants to start?
LORRAINE SEGATO: Well, Ill start with that answer. One of the things that I found interesting when I went to make this film, and it was made with a quite reputable film production company, Rhombus Media, who did Red Violin and Glenn Gould, they said "great idea! You know, Queen Street that was fabulous! Who would be interested outside of Toronto?" And I said "well, they would become interested when we say its interesting, when we say our stories are interesting enough to tell outside of our city to our other cities, to our country, to other parts of the world, is when our stories become interesting. Oddly enough, as Deanne said, there are very few cultural history projects that exist within Toronto which actually tell stories of the different parts of our communities, our neighbourhoods and something like this is only really able to get made because the artists funded this. If the artists hadnt given me their research and their archives and all of that and trusted me to do the right thing, a film like this will have never had been funded by Telefilm or, in fact it was turned down by Telefilm several times, to be made, because first of all theres the perception that nobody is interested in Toronto, because Toronto, Toronto-centric, but also that our stories are not interesting enough, more importantly. And I think thats one of the problems we face especially now with, I mean obviously with free trade and globalization is, our stories are becoming everyone elses white bread, you know, everybody elses panna blanco, as my family would say. So we have that problem, we have to figure out precisely what to do about it.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Id like to see if we can look at the marginal metaphor and dump it for all time as it relates to the arts. Id like to, Im a girl you know so I think in biological metaphors, I like the one about the pituitary gland at the centre of the body politic. Its very small, you know, and all it does is secrete and excrete juices but it powers, you know it changes everything, it regulates everything in the climate of the body. I think, that artists, rather being on the edges, they might be in some, that metaphor worked perfectly well but lots of metaphors can work but it might be more helpful to use the pituitary gland metaphor because it gives us some home you know, that its small but powerful and its so very important that people like you take the lead on this. One could say its a completely hopeless situation, like we might as well give up and be annexed to this empire of the United States, but because of people like you and because of the people we all work with all the time we still have belief. We live in an incredibly rich Canadian culture, Lorraine and I ,in downtown Toronto. You know, we read Canadian plays, we read Canadian books, we hear Canadian music, we are convinced were surrounded by geniuses. The distribution isnt a problem because we live right on top of it, we can have it at any moment. It just doesnt go any further. It runs for one night in a 200 seat place instead of a stadium for fifty thousand or its a play that runs for a week in a 100 seat house instead of being on in the 400, 500 seat house and touring across the country. It exists, its distribution, its digging it up that is the problem. So the educated leaders of this society have got to start reading the books, going to the plays, taking their students there, urging their politicians, you know, canvassing for politicians who have an arts policy, urging the ones who dont to get one. Im a believer, Im a believer in grass-roots up. It would be nice, as somebody said in the first session, if the politicians would reach down and pull also from time to time but I think we all know what we have to do to change this. Im praying that youll help.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Linda?
LINDA LEITH: Yeah, Im, I think I probably agree with you about the pituitary gland and Im not quite sure, Im not quite ready to abandon dominant-marginal, although I do think it has a very different meaning within Quebec than it would have for you in downtown Toronto. And I think it may and it also does have to do with my work with what Im doing because I think, well, because of a couple of reasons. One is that the dominance of the United States, of American culture, is not felt the same way in Quebec as it is perhaps, I believe, felt in English Canada because Quebecers happen to love going to see films about themselves. And they watch in prime-time television, they will watch television programs shot in Montreal about circumstances and situations that they are very familiar with, about their own lives, and their own community and their own society in French, of course. So, I mean, thats one factor. They also go to films, as well as going to French films and international films and American films dubbed into French or subtitled, They will also, I think, be quite likely to go to any number of European films and they will certainly look at films which are made that are home-grown films. So thats one consideration. So that American culture isnt felt in quite the same way. But the other, which I think may have more direct bearing on the work Ive found myself doing the last three years or so, four years, is that within Quebec, everybody feels like theyre marginal. Everybody feels theyre in the minority. The Francophone community that is a majority within Quebec knows itself to be a very tiny minority within Canada and certainly within North America and feels very insecure and threatened as it were as a result of its smallness. The Anglophone minority is now a fairly small minority of about 10% of the population and English isnt an official language and the schools are closing and the medical services are poor, etc. So thats the two largest and then you get to the Hispanics, the Italians and all the others who certainly feel themselves in a minority position. I think in terms of Blue Met and in terms of the work were doing this has actually created the necessity for us to invent a new kind of festival. We couldnt just take Harbourfront, the International Festival of Authors, from Toronto and transplant something like that in Montreal. First of all, you could not, it would be outrageous to try and do something like that only in English, and secondly, once you start introducing other languages and French is, of course, is the one you have to do most of your programming in. Something like, we have any given year 120 writers, something like 80 of them are Quebecois Francophones and then there are English-Canadians from a variety of number and foreign writers from various other places. But you also then, because you are introducing other languages, English or Spanish or whatever, then you find yourself promoting to the Chilean community, or to the Iranian community and suddenly youre doing something which is really not like Harbourfront. It has that element, it has that sort of lustre of an elite literary festival, but it also has all kinds of other things going on because of where it is and how it emerged and I think that partly because English is in a minority position. But English is so strong as it is in Toronto, or New York, or London, or wherever, its possible to do something in English, I mean others kind of falls into place. You cant do that in Montreal. And so the fact that English cant be dominant means that everybody else has a chance and has a voice.
LORRAINE SEGATO: The interesting thing, actually, about Quebec as a province, and Im thinking about the music industry, is while the music industry is falling apart everywhere around the world, one of the strongest industries is actually in Quebec where, you know, its population alone basically provides the support for artists to continue to make records time and time again. Theyre bought by all the people who live there and everybody knows who they all are and its quite astounding really. Because its not that they spend that much money in terms of marketing when you think about what record companies do to market someone to a large audience. So there is something there that is quite different, obviously, from the rest of the country and the rest of the cities in that there is an inherent belief of entitlement to be able to have the stories told and heard and accessible to the people who live there.
LINDA LEITH: May I respond to that? Because I think thats true, but I think that is true of the Francophone majority within Quebec. I think it has been, at least in the last 20 or 25 years, much less true of the English-speaking minority and not true at all of the Iranians, and Chileans and Italians and whoever, who have felt very much marginalized and who are therefore responding to having an Italian-only event at Blue Met as a kind of validation and an inclusion they have not felt. So that, but I think youre right, were then back to the dominant-marginal question.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But the issue of the distinction between Quebec and English Canada in terms of consumption also relates to the demand. I think youre absolutely right when you say that French Quebecers demand their own stories. Theres a popular consumption based on a real desire to see themselves reflected. In English Canada, when we talk about the impact of globalization on cultural expression, its not clear to me that the lack of consumption, the lack of production of our own stories, is due to globalization. If you look at the percentage of screen time devoted to Canadian films, it has remained essentially unchanged despite thirty years and hundreds of millions of dollars of support to the production of films. So, thirty years ago, no one was talking about globalization. So, I want to get at
DEANNE TAYLOR: Thirty years ago we were certainly talking about becoming an American
ADAM OSTRY, moderator:
DEANNE TAYLOR: I mean, Walter Gordon and
ADAM OSTRY, moderator:
DEANNE TAYLOR: People have been talking about this for a long time.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: So, but this leads to the second question which is the array of and of course which we all decided at the beginning of this that this would not degenerate into a bitch session about the current cluster of cultural support programs.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Oh no!
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But
DEANNE TAYLOR: I was brought here under false pretenses then.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But
in the age where, unlike in Quebec with a language and a star system that enables people to regard as normal the consumption of own culture product, does the mixture of support systems and the value system in the both the political system that gives the money out, and the popular, and like, the people in cities that go out and buy books and records and go and see movies, are we creating good art, or great art? Do we have the capacity to support it? Is there both the capacity to supply product and the capacity to consume it?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: I dont know.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Yes, I think we are creating great art. I think
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Anybody buying it?
LORRAINE SEGATO: Yeah, I think people are buying it but I think nobodys marketing it to people. I think the one thing we are not doing, is we dont market, again, our stories as being important. I mean you look at, sorry to go to a pop reference, but you go to music in the last fifteen years where you went from having three to four people you might know about to Canadians all over the world being international stars and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that people want to hear those stories, you know, and those stories are appealing because they are common to outside of the world, and half those people don't even know theyre Canadian artists. We dont even know, theres so many Canadian artists out there in the world, we dont even know.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: So how do you know theyre being consumed?
LORRAINE SEGATO: Well, because they are continuing to make records. Thats the only thing that you can
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But the record industry is interesting because it has one measure that none of the other cultural industries has and thats the demand-side measure of the CRTC quotas. I mean, when the CRTC mandates the universe of radio stations in this country, the one difference between radio and TV is that the only group of television stations over which the CRTC has a content mandate are the Canadian-owned ones, right? The CRTC cant legislate that CBS beam Canadian programming.
DEANNE TAYLOR: They cant even legislate that CTV have Canadian programming
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Well, they do and then CTV turns around and doesnt obey, right? The thing about radio stations is that the number of radio stations in Canada equals the number of radio stations regulated by the CRTC. The CRTC is capturing the entire universe of radio stations and they say 35% of prime-time, like of radio airtime, has to be devoted to Canadian music. That was the measure that jump-started the Canadian recording industry.
[TAPE 1 SIDE 2]
LORRAINE SEGATO: Yeah, and I would venture to think the recording companies up here are basically branch plants for foreign distribution of product. That being said, and were not talking about that, I would like to go to the idea of what, for me, makes a sustainable city, which I think is culture. I think, that you know if anything, the movies we make, the songs we create, the theatre, the books we read that is the food we feed ourselves so that we are richer, so that were strong enough to go out there into that world and face the challenges we face with this huge infrastructure that sometimes changes too radically and sometimes does not change quick enough. And I just, thats why I want to go back to the idea of integrating. I want to make sure that in our discussions we continue to integrate the importance of culture in our lives when we were talking about what the cities look like because you cannot sort of look to the structure and say these are problems without looking to the hub, the source, and the source is the food you know, we have to continue to feed ourselves. So despite all the problems we face dominant vs. marginalization we just have to simply find a way to use our imaginations.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But then what is that way though? And Im sorry if
LORRAINE SEGATO: Pick a problem!
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Sorry?
LORRAINE SEGATO: Pick a problem! Any problems!
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Pick a problem? Well, I dont know. Lets leave the music industry aside for a second
LORRAINE SEGATO: Sure
ADAM OSTRY, moderator:
because I think its in a better position than the rest of them. But, you know, in any given city, Canadians are going to see U.S., American movies and I would venture, even in Montreal. Ok? The French Quebecois film makes up 10% of the screening time. Thats all it is. Its five times the amount in English Canada, but its still only 10%.
DEANNE TAYLOR: May I?
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Sure, go ahead.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Yesterdays Globe and Mail, you know, this old hat Robert Evans front page, its Edie Falco the Sopranos, its an insiders look at Hollywood, its gossip about Clint Eastwood.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Anything about Canada in there?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Not one single one. There must be fifty feature films in production and twenty-five documentaries, young independent filmmakers, festivals. Theres not one word in here about Canadian filmmaking today, in the Saturday Globe and Mail. The front page is Elvis, you know. The next page theres an article on Mavis Gallant because I think Michael Ondaatje, who has been kissed by Hollywood, you know, the wonderful writer Michael Ondaatje, is asked probably to write this tribute to Gallant. But you know, otherwise the rest of the whole Saturday section is American content. So
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: So, when you say, "yes, yes, yes," then what are you doing?
its not just the Americans fault, is what Im saying, right? They buy the ads in these media piffle sheets and they invite the critics on the junkets and its a piece of machinery that rolls on and rolls on and rolls on. I mean, its
you know, we should throw a ton of money at this problem thats one of my favourite things to do with problems. My own, you know, when youre supposed to be at your best friends birthday party and you havent done anything you run out and you grab 150 bucks worth of flowers, cakes, drinks and what not to make up for it, right? Were in a desperate situation and, you know, we can talk and talk and talk about how bad it is the examples are legion I
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: But you really think that throwing more money at the problem is going to solve it? Is that it?
DEANNE TAYLOR: I mean a ton of more money
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: A ton of more money?
and a ton would not be much. You know, it wouldnt be much more than say, the CIBC got in research and development money to improve its ATM machines from the taxpayers.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Linda, do you have another view?
LINDA LEITH: Well, I was just , I want to
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: You share her view.
LINDA LEITH: Well, Im in favour of tons of money being thrown at cultural projects.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: So am I but just throwing money at it isnt
LINDA LEITH: No, but I was
DEANNE TAYLOR: Can I just finish that thought? A ton is not a weighty ton. Like the amount, we could triple the budget
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: A tons a ton a ton
of the entire country it would cost each of you about ten more bucks. You know, thats the ton Im talking about.
LINDA LEITH: But in order to maybe bring it back to where this, the kinds of concerns that have been heard in this room at other times over the last few days. I have heard a great deal about social and economic and environmental and political concerns and medical and various other concerns and I have heard speaker after speaker end with comments about soul and a place for conversation and a need for a forum for exchange and all of those things that are cultural things and I wonder in the agendas of some of the organizations that are looking at the questions relating to cities and globalization and communities in a changing world if indeed enough attention is being paid to culture.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Well, thats what I wanted to say but integrating, you know, using our imaginations to integrate all of the skills we have, the skills we have as cultural people who can bring the stories to the world. Its about re-framing our priorities and, you know, revitalizing how important it is for us to continue to nurture these stories. Like making this part of
if the problem is the problem of water or the problem of transportation or the problem of a green space, for instance. Theres this fabulous article in the Toronto Star called 2020: A Vision of the Future with all these kids talking about how they wanted to see their city and they were all talking about "I want more green spaces." "I want parks I can sit in." "I want to see musicians out on the street." "I want to be able to walk on these streets and be a part of it." And what I got from that article was that "I wanted to be connected to community." "I want to feel a connection to someone." "I want to know who my neighbours are." And
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Thats a brilliant segue into the last topic which is were funding art but are we creating the art that reflects the community that, from which it emanates? In other words, if you look at just Toronto and Im sorry if you look at Montreal or Vancouver the population of those three cities are the most ethnically and linguistically diverse, arguably, in the world, particularly Toronto. Yet, are the stories from those communities being told, being made and being shared?
LINDA LEITH: Ok, Ill begin because I have a unusual experience in terms of finding funding and it may be illustrative of a problem that others will face or perhaps one would hope would be doing the same kind of things. Basically, we have a festival which is majority Francophone but has a large English speaking component as well as all these other languages. So when we came to apply to the Canada Council for funding, we hit a problem and that is because the Canada Council jury system is divided along linguistic lines. You go to a French-language jury or you go to an English-language jury. And the first two years we went to an English-language jury and the problem with the English-language jury is that they had no idea how amazing it was we had got Ying Cheng [?] to come to our festival because they had never heard of Ying Cheng [?]. And so, after some of this, after two years we decided wed go to the French jury. We are now going to the French jury and the problem there is that they have no idea how amazing it is that were getting Mavis Gallant to come to our festival. And thats absolutely true. She has been far too little known in French Quebec, though she lived and was born in Montreal and lived many years in Montreal. So, but we get our funding but there is a division there that doesnt help us and were being penalized for doing in fact what is part of the mandate of some of these agencies, which is to bring the communities together but thats just a preliminary. The great irony was over the last winter. It turns out that there has been a program funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage that is to promote, over the last year or two was set up to help promote, Francophone arts projects outside of Quebec. And this was related to Support For Official Languages program and just this year they have made this extend to Anglophones within Quebec. Now, I am an anglophone. I am the founder, I am the president, Im the artistic director of this festival. I applied for the Canada Council as a novelist in English, for outreach activities for the festival in English, but our festival funding application has gone in French for two years for the reasons I have explained. We were not eligible for the project funding for Anglophones within Quebec because we were applying in French and it really seemed like a catch-22. So I wrote a note to Gordon Platt and explained my displeasure over the way in which they had set this up and I must say, I am glad to say, it has been righted, but it may give some indication of some of the roadblocks that are put in your path even by the agencies whos stated purpose is to promote inter-exchange between [inaudible] in this county.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: How about you guys? Downtown Toronto? The stuff coming out of downtown Toronto in the, on the alternative stages, bars and stuff, is it reflective of the community?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Absolutely. Theres sort of, the problem is with funding is that everything is lumped into one bag. The arts councils have, you know, started out funding the big five, the big ten, the big twenty, the symphonies, the ballets, the operas, the heritage, beautiful heritage art of our society, of our cultures. And then it evolved into funding Canadian work and it then sort of was politicized, I think, into funding, to bringing people along women, Native people, minorities and so on a training aspect where the quality of the work wasnt very strict but the good-heartedness and the good intentions of the people to have their stories told was very
counted for a lot of points. So you have the councils absolutely stretched out between you know, high, old art from the mother countries, brand new creation, and training. And I would say its time to part those things in the arts councils into separate bags and put the arts councils back to strictly funding, I mean keep on funding the heritage work, in its own way its so important that we do the great works of the past and do them really well. Its very important that we train people coming on-stream in the arts, emerging in the arts. But its mightying up and messing up this very particular and very difficult problem of how you make brand-new Canadian art. New plays. New music. New painting. Its very specific sets of problems, it has no market, nobody asks us to do it, nobody necessarily wants it. And if I could just take one second to make a parallel with science. John Polanyi, the Nobel Prize winner, has written many articles on the subject about how science funding is completely messed up these days by the widget mentality. Lots of money for the widget that has a place in the commercial field. Theres no money for the scientist who is just dreaming and it is Polanyis conviction that half the important discoveries, if not more, in science are of course made by the dreamer who has no product in mind but just, the force of their intelligence going forward in the way they need it to and that their research projects must be driven by the way they see them and funded that those turns are necessary. So, art is just like that. Were funding more and more off-the-shelf work from the past. Thats fine we know the outcomes, we know how many people will walk through the door to the Stratford festival and the Shaw festival thats quite simple. Funding training is just a dead loss of money and we
thats fine, we should be doing that, but of course were stinting education in every which way. To fund new plays, for example, means you have to listen to the playwrights and the companies who know how to create the work and who are
after ten or fifteen years in the game, if theyre still creating great work, if theyre winning tons and tons of awards, it is time to open the cash register and give them the money to grow their companies, to pay their 45-year-old actors with children more than $400 a week, to run their shows longer than three-and-a-half weeks, to rehearse them longer than three-and-a-half weeks. In the States, I mean, in Europe, the great national theatres of our mother countries and other European countries rehearse for six months, nine months, ten months, they make fantastic art because they respect the art enough to put the time and the money into it. Now, were killing it. Were killing our artists, I would say, all those people, all those marginal voices are making art but theyre not making good enough art, neither am I, neither is anybody, because, honestly, I can tell you the truth, is were making it too fast and too cheap and we run it too short and we wont remount the play and learn what we just learned in the first run about how to make it better. If youre going to spend, you know, 200 million dollars on culture in Canada, it shouldnt just go down the drain, you know what I mean? Spend 500 million and get something for it. Thats, thats my pitch.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: You have anything to add?
LORRAINE SEGATO: I sort of disagree. No, I
its always good to be a fence-sitter every once and a while. The part that I disagree with there an aspect that you were talking about that sounded a little purist to me. I recalled, and what I mean by that is, I recall in the late seventies, early eighties, when the issues of cultural diversity started to be put on the platform of discussion within the arts councils, there was those questions put forward which is, "look, we have no money here. We have more and more artists, less and less money, more and more people that need to be culturally represented. How are we going to divvy up this situation?" A lot of people were saying "we dont have a lot of money so why should we be putting it towards people who are not yet quite experienced?" And so thats what I mean about
DEANNE TAYLOR: Yeah, I
theres an aspect of what youre saying
I call it training. Dont call it arts councils. Dont make VideoCabaret, my company, that is twenty-five years old and highly practiced and skilled, compete for money with companies where, that are just coming on-stream
it should just, with the same criteria, the same jury...theres just
there should be money for all of these things and really, I sound like a pig, but its just not very much money. The global budgets of our federal budget and our provincial budget, our city budgets, I bet the whole funding for the arts not museums and so on but the arts is under 200 million. Thats
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Well in
yesterday or the day before who, it was Shirley Hoy quoted that the annual budget for the city of Toronto is 6.2 billion dollars, right? Which is larger than all but four provinces, blah, blah. Know what the arts budget is?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Nine million.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Thank you. Nine million out of 6.2 billion.
DEANNE TAYLOR: And a lot of that goes to run the civic theatres. Well, actually the money left for, again, this really tiny piece of the arts budget not the 200 million, eh? this tiny little part that goes for making new work by Canadians is even smaller and shrinking faster in the last twenty years.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: All right. Thank you very much. This I hope has stimulated thought, stimulated questions from the audience. We are going to take a break at this stage. It is now ten minutes to nine so well be ringing the bell for return for the Q&A running at nine sharp. Thanks. [break in recording]
start the Q&A. We are ten minutes behind schedule. Now, there are a couple of rules. I would first of all suggest that people who are standing there diligently waiting to tell a question sit down please, because were going to show another video. A video. Sit down. Yes, another one. And
ladies and gentlemen, please, a little bit of discipline and decorum. And I shall not hesitate to cut people off if they are too long.
LORRAINE SEGATO: [?] Theyre getting rowdy.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Theyre getting rowdy. Another fifteen minutes and well be able to go and have a drink. Alright, Deanne, Miss Taylor, is going to introduce a three-minute video.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Well, its just so pertinent to our topic. Actually, its probably completely off topic. I cant even remember, I havent seen it in so long, but its a tape that we made at the time of the amalgamation of Toronto and the fight against the amalgamation of Toronto. Its featuring Mike Harris making a speech, using his own promotional government footage and we re-cut it and re-recorded it for an event just shortly before he resigned as sort of his final speech about the Mike Harris era. And I think in some ways I think its pertinent to our discussion because its about democracy. [video runs]
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: That constitutes the power of expression in a free and democratic society. And now we are going to move from that pulpit to this pulpit here. And we are going to entertain, my panelists are going to entertain questions from the audience as a means of engaging in substantive dialogue. Im carrying on like this so we
now we are ready to engage. We are? Ladies and gentlemen, M. Koch, please.
Q: I want to, Im going to break all the rules because Im supposed to ask a question I have a question but first I want to make a speech
DEANNE TAYLOR: [?] Speech, speech!
Q: And now
ADAM OSTRY: Turn the lights off! [laughter]
Q: I could not state my whatever the word is support, approval, love of the three women, if I may call them that, because they are absolutely one hundred per thousand percent right. But they are making one fundamental mistake.
ADAM OSTRY: Oh dear
Q: The word culture, the word culture, the word culture frightens everybody and they
I dont usually use my gun when I hear the word although in my former country that was the fashion when they heard the word culture, they
Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? [inaudible comment] No questions. Im making a speech. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? And I
DEANNE TAYLOR: profit motive. And Mike Harris just now, that was a very good segue into my speech. [inaudible comment] My question. Because you dont get, you should think of whatever you do
yeah, I know, I observe this, not so much in terms of culture with a capital K
thats my line.
but may I use the word education? Its a
nobody likes the word and its a taboo word and Couchiching used to be called adult education, we dont use that word anymore because its a dreary and [offering] schoolteachers but no one serious disputes that education belongs to the public sector. I know we have private schools
DEANNE TAYLOR: [?] Quite right.
Q: Your, our, if I may associate myself, business has to do, is closely associated with a fundamental occupation of a civilized society and so is education. You, if we could only switch gears instead of thinking in terms of entertainment, Queen Street West, think of it as a vital function of a civilized society. Thats what youre doing and the enemy is the privatization. And I am embarrassed since I spent my life with the CBC, I am embarrassed in the discussion that you had, we just heard, not one person mentioned the CBC because the CBC has, this is the mandate that is the word that the CBC uses what youre doing is dead center of the mandate of the CBC and the CBC is so poor now and has been so massacred that it cannot meet, no matter how much, I am sure, the fundamental duty which they should to support you writers and its not even mentioned, its not even mentioned. I am ashamed and embarrassed to hear this discussion and not hear anyone ever mentioning the CBC because its a public sector, it is linked to education, the broadcasting act says so, and we CBC people are trained, its part of our genetic engineering, to think in terms of a mission, a church, that we have a duty to something thats very important that is above money and dont
the profit motive is the enemy, not the Americans. The Americans may have or have not lost that battle. In English Canada, the battle may well have been lost. Not in French Canada. But if we think -we should switch gears dont think in terms of culture, I mean, whatever that word is, we all have different definitions but if we could only think differently about this, that it should be as much an application of the society to meet your demands, our demands, as it is to meet public schools. And my question is, am I not right?
LINDA LEITH: Youre right. Youre right.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Anybody want to comment on that?
LINDA LEITH: I would.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ok.
LINDA LEITH: Ok, understanding it was a question rather than a speech, I would have a couple of comments. First of all, just to set the record straight, I would like to say that CBC and Radio Canada were prepared, in fact, to have an on-site studio at Blue Met in April and that was sabotaged by the fact there was a lockout and a strike that lasted for six weeks which put paid to that and many other projects. On the question of education, I absolutely agree with you but I think that there is a distinction somewhere to be made. One of the things that we do as part of the festival and part of our activities is we do have a program for high school students and select students and we bring kids from the regions of Quebec, the Gaspe Bay and the lower north shore, to Montreal, the gifted writers among them so they can meet some of the writers at the festival, which is a wonderful project. We also have a community writing project which is in French and English. We actually, and I think its ironic and a pity, we can more easily get funding for those educational programs then we can for the artistic, literary, purely literary side of what we do and yet that is a very valid and very important function that we play. So, the public, the funding agencies, private and public, tend to find more money for education but when its arts its a tougher sell. And youre right about the profit motive.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Anybody else?
LORRAINE SEGATO: I agree with everything you said, actually. I think we should and thats what Ive been trying to say is that I think we need to reframe the way we look at art, the way we look at culture whether its small c or big C, big K. Its
we need to reframe
like how it, what kind of priority it plays in our life in our day to day. We just need to include it with all those other things we need to do to make our sustainable cities, that it does not set apart as something that simply entertains us but it is embodied within it. So it feels more holistic in our approach. And youre right, the CBC. I can just speak from a musical point of view. Ill just give a little anecdote. One of the last records I put out in 1998, the very first group of radio stations that jumped on it was the CBC and I was very pleased because theyve always supported Canadian artists and so its great, I know Im going to hear new Canadian work on the CBC. And the record company said to me "well, you know, yeah, the records getting played and everything but its getting played on the CBC." And Im like "thats great! Thats national. Thats across the
," you know. Its the perception of private investment, private companies, that the CBC is not as important as all these other radio stations which are basically programming, you know, not that Americans are the enemy, but programming American musical product as their primary source. So the perception of the CBC is not really held as, we may think its important but certainly within the industry its not important.
LINDA LEITH: Just to pick up on that and go right to what Ed is centered on, I think its really important, another one of those big context things you have to set down on this issue, which is the degradation of the public sector in general. Its been twenty years of propaganda since the Reagan administration non-stop, non-stop, that just because government shouldnt do everything it shouldnt do anything, you know, and its a set of calumnies and lies and misrepresentations of the public sector that I think its up to Canadians really have defined in society in terms of public private cooperation and were giving in, were believing the propaganda, were letting things go on every front. And thanks Ed, I think thats one of the most important things we should all focus on is how to defend the public enterprise, what we do together, what we value together.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Hear, hear. Absolutely. Next question, sir.
Q: Im wondering how precisely I follow the previous question. My name is Peter Scott and I speak from a perspective of someone who has lived in suburbia for most of my life and I have just moved into downtown center of the universe. So Im very close to
DEANNE TAYLOR: Could I have your address for my mailing list?
Q: Ill give it to you right after. I live very close to the art, the music, the theatre that you have all been talking about in Toronto and its a vibrant culture, its a wonderful place. But I recall where I used to live and if I may I can bring this back somewhat to what we were talking about this morning in the rise of suburbia as opposed to the urban centers. And as most of us know, if you look at the GTA, the actual pure urban part is very small relative to the entire GTA which is five, six million people, most of them in suburbia and suburbia, as we heard this morning, is very quiet, safe, conservative, cookie-cutter, not very interesting in a lot of ways, and as youll recall from the past two provincial elections, the people who put Mike Harris in power. I would submit to you that the people there think that this discussion is just amongst ourselves and if you said to them, these are our stories, we should talk about them, they would say "we dont want to hear these stories, we wont care. We like the American culture that we see. We are purchasing it. It is what we genuinely want to see." And they look at us in this discussion here, they look at you in your particular genres and say "youre unimportant." And I want to know what you think you can do to move against this kind of thinking because I dont think this thinking is passive. I think its an active choice, suburbia is an active choice. They want that safety. They want that conservatism. They want to be in a very easy to understand, calm life and the American culture that they get gives it to them.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: I think thats an extremely important question. I think its a very useful question. You want to start?
LINDA LEITH: Well, Im not sure. I may be responding to part of what you said, but when you were speaking there was just a thought that came to mind was that a bit over a year ago I was at the, theres a very good literary festival at Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh border in the UK and I was there a bit over a year ago and then I met the editor of the Times literary supplement and he said to me, he looked to me after wed been introduced, "why is it that the only people Im reading these days are Canadian women?." And he
so that I think what hes perceiving, what people are perceiving all over the world, we are in some ways the last to be aware of ourselves.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Deanne?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Well
oh, to hell with them if they cant take a joke. The suburbs, I mean. No. Its a problem. I mean, we live in different, we dont all live in the same year, even though we live in the same region. Some of us live centuries apart from one another around the world and even in our own country. And I also have, you know, my own sort of nostalgias, serious empathies and identifications with people who have a mono-culture Quebec, Alberta, Ive got Alberta people, you know, and I understand what theyre fighting, I understand why they dont want all this messy, mixed up stuff. Theyve got songs they learned in the cradle that still make them have a tear when they're 92. They have food, they have culture, they really have a culture and its something they dont want to give up for all this mess. Meanwhile, down in Toronto weve got this mess, this chaos, of cultures, that hasnt really delved yet either into the new Canadian culture. I mean, I see glimpses of it, I was trying to describe how half the immigrant artists in Toronto and the Native artists, came together to help make these history plays which are, show Canadian, you know, in their aesthetics, in their contents and form. But I dont know how, I think the medias a huge part of it. Out in the suburbs, theyre also buying porn, buying really violent movies. I mean, theyre not just safe and cookie-cutter, you know what I mean? Its quite bent as well. Its all American, yes, yes but its not...
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Oh, youd feel better if it were Canadian porn and Canadian
DEANNE TAYLOR: Yeah. Now there, weve got something going. But its
I still think, you know, that if this thing had Paul Gross on the front page and then the next generation of really hunky who-whos from Canadian film on the next page and the next page and the next page that also the glamorization of
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Star system.
DEANNE TAYLOR: I mean, I find that kind of
Q: That requires an activist decision by the Globe and Mail and what Im suggesting is there, this is not a passive statement by the people in the suburbs so if we give them that in the Globe and Mail theyll stop buying it. This is what Im suggesting.
DEANNE TAYLOR: I dont think thats true. I think people
Q: Well I hope youre right, but
people are buying what they see
LORRAINE SEGATO: I think its also Im sorry I think its partially fear. I think when you have in the city, in any of the larger cities, quite
its a catalyst energy for all the other changes that take place. I think you cant look to the suburbs and say these radicals changes are going to take place within this because the environment by which those changes do take place do not exist. Often youll find, I cant tell you as a performer how many times I get people coming up and saying "You know, I first heard your song I was in my bedroom and I was sixteen years old and I was feeling like
," blah, blah, blah. I mean, the issues of alienation, the issues of yearning for love, the issues of desire, all of these are things that we feel in every community, everywhere. The only difference between the suburbs and downtown is one is set up as an environmental space for catalyst energy and the other is just, well, theres the leaders and the sheep. Some people just choose to say "this is easy for me. I can handle this. I want this fed to me. If I need to go and get something else, Im going to go over there." And I dont know if we, other than trying to reach people in the suburbs with the art, or with the ideas, can actively do anything to change that particular mindset.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Well, can I? I mean, I just want to
the fact is that if you look at that Globe and Mail section everything is non-Canadian. Whos asking for a wholesale transfer? Well, lets start with one page. Lets start with one article. One article. [inaudible comment]
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Um, next question. Do you want to add something? Hang on, do you want to add something?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Well
Ill get back to it.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ok, next question.
Q: Firstly, I really believe that people learn by telling stories. People develop the confidence in themselves by telling stories. I really believe, as our panelists do, that if were going to have sustainable cities that we need to be able to tell our stories as a people. But then we need to have somebody who is willing to listen to them and we need to have the confidence that the stories were telling
ADAM OSTRY, moderator:
are worthwhile telling and that we have some pride in ourselves as a nation and as a people. And I support my friend Ed because I subscribe to TVO, I subscribe to Jazz 91, Im an avid CBC listener, and I love the fact that I can be in Newfoundland and driving along and hear the same music that I heard when I drove the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. I support all of that, will pay for it with my tax dollars or my personal contributions or whatever, but, the big but is, I have to ask the question of whether we can really compete with a dominant society of that big bald eagle, because a big bald eagle keeps constantly flying over us and dropping little droppings on us that hit us in uncomfortable places and there was the folk-singer-writer from Saskatoon who, during the Vietnam war wrote a piece called the Big Bald Eagle and "please dont shit all over me" was the chorus of the song and there arent
particularly in the arts community, the competition from that dominant society and those of us, most of us in this room get to travel, we see it everywhere. You go into a hotel in Beijing and you turn on the TV and you get Larry King Live. And thats the kind
thats your competition. And when we do produce good stuff, we dont promote it. I mean, you may not agree with me because you may think, you may think this is too commercial, but there was a movie that was produced, I dont know, ten, fifteen years ago called Bye Bye Blues. Its a Canadian film
LORRAINE SEGATO: I remember that one.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Its a good movie.
absolutely dynamite, one of my very favourite films, I own it, and every time I ask people "Have you see Bye Bye Blues?" they look at me with this blank look on their face. Now if that were an American film it would have been a blockbuster. Why, tell me why, that isnt the case? And one final question then Ill sit down and you can answer it, the Hummer story? If that were given to the mayor and say having Leslie Neilson playing the part of Eggleton it would have been a blockbuster. Yeah, now hes Hollywoodized, is that what it is? [inaudible comments]
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ok. Deanne.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Theres so many different parts to this that its overwhelming, the scale of this issue, to deal with it in these few short minutes. Thank God youre all smart and youre thinking about it all the time. But theres two things. I think
back to the gentleman talking about the gap between the suburban consumer and the downtown art. I think theres always been a gap between the suburban consumer nd the downtown art of any culture at any time. You know, the people who are leading the avant-garde, changing forms, bringing new perceptions to the art form, are always ahead of even their contemporaries in the cities. You know, they even have really small audiences in cities. Thats part of an answer to you. Theres no getting around that, right? There may never be a way. People used to tell us "well, you should be marketing to the 905" and Im thinking we only need 2,000 people a week to come into this theatre, we cant afford even to advertise to them, why should we scattershot all over the whole GTA just to pull that many people into this tiny little theatre? So we dont. We cant afford it and we dont do it. On the mass product side, the movies side that the lady was saying, I think we should be, when I hear the word culture, I say "reach for your wallet," you know? We need all of that. We could be making some more commercial things, and we could be funding the avant-garde, and we could be funding the avant-garde who become 45 years old and are still practicing the form and become really good at it, we could be funding all of that more generously at a very tiny cost to everyone in this country.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Alright. Thank you. Anybody else?
LORRAINE SEGATO: I was thinking about what you said, about why something like Bye Bye Blues wouldnt have been seen. I think it comes at the risk
[TAPE TWO, SIDE 1]
its like the thing we discussed in 1975 in film school was, "what is our Canadian cultural identity?" As someone said, we just keep returning to these questions over and over. "Whats wrong with us? Why arent people interested in us?" And its because we dont say, we dont say were interesting. Its not going to come from the outside. Its got to come from, my story is interesting, the work we do is interesting, these are the reasons why, support it. You support it and it happens and it grows and more people say "Yeah, I can do that" and theyre going to do that and my story is as important as yours. And, I mean, I just spent a large period of time in Los Angeles, California, which Ive never, never really liked but luckily I have friends there now and I really tried to have a look at that culture around the film and the music business, really tried to understand it. And you know, the difference, just the fundamental difference between them and us is simply that they believe that the words that come out of their mouths are important! Theyve just made that decision. Its very simple. So that they create these ideas and then they spend all this time and pitch it to people and eventually someone says "yeah. Thats a good idea." Its that simple. Its just that we continue to tell the stories.
DEANNE TAYLOR: They also own all their screens. We dont own the exhibition screens
ADAM OSTRY, moderator:
yeah, we know that. Theres an industrial structure.
we dont own the cinemas in this country. How can that be after this many decades?
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ok, now its twenty minutes to ten, so David Lewis Stein is the last questioner. So, Madame
Q: My name is Margaret Rodrigues and I once talked to you about places like the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts. And Im not running down Canadian Stage thank goodness we have theatre companies like Canadian Stage in Canada. But when I went to work for the city, the old city of Toronto, I discovered to my astonishment that our department was responsible for maintaining the St. Lawrence Centre. So I went down and I went on a tour of the whole building and I discovered that successive city councils had cut the operating budget so tightly to the point that which we could hardly even open the door and turn the lights on. There was no money for investment, there was no money for advertising, there was absolutely nothing. So, I said to the staff "well, what is this place supposed to be used for?" , you see, and they said "well, you see, Margaret, this was Torontos, one of Torontos big centennial projects in 1967. we built this, and this building is supposed to be the place where the citizens of Toronto come, where they have dialogue, they have exciting discussions, they have leading-edge art, they have this, that and the other. This is what this is supposed to be for." And I said, "gee, you could have fooled me, you know." Anyway. And I would like to ask you youve talked about needing money to invest in the arts. What would you do with the St. Lawrence Centre, given that we can find somewhere else for Canadian Stage to go. Would you sell it? Would you invest the money in the kind of things youre talking about? Would you revitalize it? Would you turn it into its original mission? What would you do?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Its actually a pretty ugly building. Difficult to work in, hard for the audience. You put a decent, really good play from a 200, 400 seat house on that stage
you can put it in the Alex, because in the Alex, the acoustics, the design, the closeness of the balconies to the stage and the boxes, the old design, a century old, is much better than the St. Lawrence Centre. The raked out slope of the Hummingbird and the St. Lawrence Centre, are terrible and its, I dont think its a really theatre-friendly place. But if you mean, could it be
Im sure architects could think their way around
you know, shell
Q: Im really more getting at, should we be putting money into these big theatre centres or should we be investing our money, would we be getting more value if we invested our money in the kind of things youre talking about?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Its a perfect question because we do subsidize not only Canadian Stage but the theatre together, right? So because Canadian Stage has this theatre as a big gift of 900 seats, it sort of means that they have to put on famous plays from New York, England and occasionally a Canadian play on that 900 seat stage, right? Its very
its scale is too big and it means its always just drawing Speed-The-Plow by David Mamet or The Importance of Being Ernest, all of these are wonderful plays, right? But this is what Canadian tax dollars are going into. Our civic theatre is actually the home of off-the-shelf work from other countries and to do anything differently, to produce Canadian plays better, rehearse them longer, remount them a couple of times, bring them to the 900 seats and publicize the heck out of them as if they were wonderful too. You know, we could do that, but nobodys got the scratch.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Next question please.
Q: Thank you. My name is Christine May and Im visiting here from Scotland. I know nothing about the Canadian arts and literary scene so I speak from a position of extreme ignorance, like most politicians except perhaps, Hazel McCallion. Ok, I have three very quick questions. First one. Two hundred years ago, the people of Hartlepool, in England, hanged a monkey which had got washed up on the shore because they thought it was a French spy. This year, in the Hartlepool mayoral election, the mascot of Hartlepool United Football Club, which is HAngus the monkey, a guy dressed in a monkey suit, won the mayoral election on a platform, I kid you not, of giving free bananas to every child. He got elected, he didnt give them the bananas. But
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: First electoral promise broken.
Q: Question should there be more of the HAngus the monkey-type candidates in politics and would that do the arts any good?
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Well, weve had the Rhinoceros party. Weve had all sorts of them.
Q: Second point. Deanne said what we really need is lots of money put out at the problem. Would that give you better quality art, paintings, literature, culture ok, rotten word but culture and arts which are for the people and are generally supported by the people? And thirdly, one of the most extraordinary critiques of bureaucracy that Ive ever heard or saw was Vaslav Havels The Memorandum, many, many years ago. He had, not just literary genius, but also political conviction and popular support. Are there any Vaslav Havels at any political level in Canada? Or who in the arts world is doing something to encourage that? So, three questions.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Right. Who wants to start?
DEANNE TAYLOR: What was the first one again?
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Its ten to ten. Should there be more hangers [?] or
DEANNE TAYLOR: No.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Ill answer that. I think there should be. I think its important to really inject the idea of irony and sardonic behaviour and general silliness into political events because I think what it does is allows the politicians to actually, you know, not take themselves quite so seriously and actually look to see where theyre going to focus their platform more than
I think there should always be somebody poking fun there because it keeps it honest a bit.
DEANNE TAYLOR: I completely disagree. I think
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Oh great. I love that. See, we have a fight, folks. Go ahead.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Food fight!
DEANNE TAYLOR: Being an earnest little mite myself. I would like to assure you all that the Hummer sisters were not kidding, you know. We had all these serious policy documents on video about housing and cottage industries in abandoned warehouses and homeless and la di da. I think politicians have quite enough silly days already. The media is already pulling them into wet T-shirt contests on a daily basis, you know? Ok.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Ok, but the next, the other question was, do you throw more money at it, do you make better art? Do you make great art?
DEANNE TAYLOR: Ok. Obviously thats not a
you cant clearly answer that question as an unqualified yes. The answer is yes, though, but you also make a bunch more crap, you know. Theres no question about it. When youre making new art, you have
its failure-intensive, its like science. A whole lot of these things are going to lead up blind alleys, dead ends
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Its also taste-based. I mean, one mans great art is another mans
DEANNE TAYLOR: It is but you know, in the final analysis its taste-based, but in the
the juries were actually, they were actually set up once upon a time quite wonderfully well in this country, they were really well qualified people and I would maintain that the job of a well-qualified artist is to know art when he or she sees it and know the potential in a script, know the potential in an artist, regardless of race, colour, creed, I mean, so in other words I dont think you needed to make juries representative. I think you just had to have great artists on them and so weve kind of messed around with the jury system that way. But it works. I can tell you that people are unbelievably conscientious in the juries and with the public dollars. There is almost never a whiff of scandal. Now whether theres bad art of course there is. Theres absolute, you know, "how did this ever get funded?" and "how did this ever get off the page?" and "why did anybody put this on the stage?" But that is unavoidable.
LORRAINE SEGATO: I think that its not just throwing money at the situation, its ensuring that its consistent money, whatever that money is, even if its a small increase That that is a consistent amount of money that increases slowly every year. That what artists have to contend with is not watching the funds slowly, year after year, get smaller and smaller and smaller while the pool base gets bigger and bigger and bigger and you have to reach more and more people with less. I think that if it were consistent even, that would change the quality of our loan [?].
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: And I think theres one more thing and that was something that was touched on earlier. In both film and live theatre, you may not end up getting greater art, but if you had the wherewithal for longer rehearsal times, for longer remounting times, for longer shoot days, or for greater amount of shoot days, etc, etc the fact is that you would end up, even if the script was mediocre, or not up to par, you would end up with the capacity to improve it as you shot the film or as you put the play on, and youll end up with a better product. It may not be great, but it will be better then what were funding at the moment. I think thats also an important
DEANNE TAYLOR: And echoing something that Linda said earlier, its also listening to the artists about how the money comes at you and if you say to people we need to rehearse, if you say to the arts councils we need to rehearse this plays for twenty weeks, when youre 45 years old and youve won a thousand awards and youve done twenty plays, you should be believed, you know. But every single play in Canada is rehearsed for three weeks, except for our company, which rehearses for five weeks. Weve defended that little extra two weeks for twenty years. When actually the councils in theory would probably rather we did two plays rather than one good one, you know. Theres a way that the money is handed out, I cant go into this, its way too boring and detailed but theres a way that the money comes at us now that forces everyone into the same working format and it forces everybody to go out and find money in the private sector, which is also taking playwrights out of the playwriting skills that they have, out of the directing skills that they have, and sending them out to do fundraising because you dont have the staff to do it. And youve got to do it or you dont get your Canada Council or your Ontario Arts Council dollars at all. You can be cut right off, even after twenty-five years of good work. So
especially the Ontario Arts Council under Jackman has gone completely lollygag and I think Ill just stop it.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Next question. Q: My name is Stephen Provin [?] and Im wondering how much of our angst is Ontario-based as opposed to being Canadians. I know as Ontarians we always assume we are the quintessential Canadians but when I think across this country I think of Linda in Montreal, a very vibrant, dynamic scene, particularly in the Francophone community theyre not having this kind of angst that I hear from Lorraine and Deanne. I see this in places like Halifax, where theyre dynamic, Vancouver
yet Im wondering whether Ontario, where, lets face it, a province that is probably, especially Toronto, almost entirely derivative. If you look around Toronto you see condos named Soho, Park Avenue I dont see that in Montreal and I dont actually see that in Vancouver or Halifax or anywhere else. Theres this weird kind of derivative nature and when you think about it, its understandable. For instance, car buffs will say, "you know, the British car industry in the 70s or 50s, those great British cars, the Triumph." and actually, the Canadian car industry, which is based in Ontario, is much larger than the British car industry and nobody says "the great Grand Caravan the Windstar those are Canadian, that was the Canadian car industry at its best." And of course theres our cultural industry which you are representative of but youre a very small part of economically because most of it is producing American movies with fuzzy license plates on those American cars that are actually made in Ontario. So I was wondering if you could tell me whether some of the problem you face is actually the fundamental nature of the province you live in rather than the country you live in.
LORRAINE SEGATO: I dont think so. As a person whos gotten to travel around the country an awful lot and really talked to a lot of different people, I think that its an anxiety that Ive noticed most artists feel. The ones who do feel this in the prairies whatever, often go to live in the big cities and then feel that anxiety in the big cities
because in Toronto you get all that angst
certainly. Ive lived in Halifax as well. Thats an interesting community as well in which theres an incredible resource of talent there and too small an area to really utilize it all. That certainly hasnt stopped them from being filled with passion in what theyre doing but there is an underlying anxiety there as well its just not expressed to the degree that were expressing today. But I dont really think its just a product of the province, its a product of being Canadian. I certainly have met many, many artists in Europe, who, you know, they have problems as well when it comes to the mainstreaming of culture and all of that, but they dont have the levels of fear around survival that we do as Canadian artists. I mean, the thing here is, you can be famous in a second in Canada. It does not mean anything when it comes to whether or not you can live. And that anxiety youre hearing is "will we able to continue to do what weve managed to do to this point?" We just simply survive.
DEANNE TAYLOR: Or bring the wonderful products that weve bringing
bringing the products to people before we die
or contribute to society in the way youve been taught to contribute to society.
DEANNE TAYLOR: My brother runs the Vancouver arts council and I think he would echo just about everything Ive said about the scale of investment that were willing to put into things and I know quite a few theatre artists and visual artists in Vancouver who have the same problems
Calgary, Im thinking of One Yellow Rabbit, people doing wonderful, wonderful work, who never get
I dont, I think you may be right that because were older and have been next to New York longer we also have more copycats and thats back to this sort of mono-culture vs. Canadian culture thing. I think we keep trying to bring it back to the point. That if you have cultural confidence it infects everything else. It makes for better entrepreneurs, it makes for business, it makes for better government, it makes
you know, Id say it starts, in fact, with making better art.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Next. Monsieur?
Q: My name is Avrom Isaacs. Ive been thinking about the economics of the situation weve been talking about a great deal this evening. And my thoughts have gone back to the last two or three days in which weve heard many speakers who are doing invaluable work some more successfully, some less successfully, the fact is theyre all being paid for their work. With our artists, who are very creative people, receive no pay. They have to subsidize their work for most of their life and I think that sort of situation has to be changed, that our artists are an invaluable resource and need to be compensated in a continuous manner. The question of rising and falling of your financial success is a desperate thing for artists because you can go through a career where youre doing really well for three years and then you just dont exist. So, I would suggest that some serious thought be given to salaries for artists. Some of them may be more or less gifted, but so are a lot of administrators.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Actually
Q: My name is Ludwig Von Beethoven
oh, Im sorry
LORRAINE SEGATO: Actually, I wanted to address Mr. Issacs who, I believe, has made a hugely significant contribution to the culture in Toronto and obviously out of Queen Street West as well and I want to thank you for coming up and saying something because you know, with this other generation, I feel like a younger generation and I want to pay homage to you for coming up and talking because you made it possible.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: The last question. Mr. Stein? Q: My name is Ludwig Von Beethoven and I want to take issue with this gentlemen in the suburbs here because my music is played by the Mississauga symphony and I never heard of CDs. I made money by selling my music, my sheet music, and those people who are all schoolteachers come out, they work all day, and then they come and they play my music at night and I think thats what I really intended. And that, to me, is culture. And this gentlemen is worried how people in the suburbs want a little piece and quiet. Well, when youve got a couple of kids, you want a quiet street. You know, thats what suburbs are for, theyre for raising children. If you want to come downtown and have a good time in the bars, good luck to you. When you got a family, youre going to go back out to the suburbs, I guarantee you, or at least to a quiet neighbourhood. And if you look around out there, theres a lot more going on. Theres a place called the Burlington art gallery, one of my favourite places. Theyve got guilds. And these people get together and they do pottery, they make quilts, paint, and they do it themselves. Wholly self-governing, no money, well I guess the art gallery is to some extent subsidized, and if you look at art as something people do for themselves, not as something thats done for them, but people speaking for themselves, in fact theres a lot more going on around you than you realize.
LORRAINE SEGATO: Absolutely.
DEANNE TAYLOR: I think that reminds me of something that I wanted to say which is that theres never been any great art made that wasnt subsidized by a king, an aristocrat, or a state and you get the art you pay for it, basically. These are the uses of aristocrats. You know, we took off all of their heads a couple of hundred years ago and now were kind of trying to recreate that system with the granting system. Its not perfect but its our democratic version of how to have a national culture. I think that if we agree to come up against the United States mono-culture with our own vibrant Canadian culture its only a question of whether we want to be generous in how we do that or stingy. Thats really it.
ADAM OSTRY, moderator: Anybody have any final closing remarks? No? Ladies and gentlemen, before we conclude for the evening I have one small announcement to make. Lorraine has kindly agreed to show the film, the documentary on Queen Street West, in its entirety. It will be, weve moved the VCR machine over to the other building so when you go to the reception, those of you who want to watch it, it will be shown on the TV set that is on that side of the room. And I would like to thank Lorraine since she owns the copyright. And now, ladies and gentlemen, this concludes Saturday night, of the first portion of it. I would like to thank you all for coming. Je vous remercie infiniment dêtre venu. Bon soir.