Consultation on emerging artists

 

My tour on youth issues was launched last November in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield on the theme of cultural and artistic renewal. This document is a summary of the consultations that were held: young people made all of these observations and recommendations.

If you would like more information about the tour on youth issues, or to share your opinion on cultural and artistic renewal, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Anne Minh-Thu Quach

 

Diversity is sorely lacking in the arts and culture sector. Culture is no longer fulfilling its role of providing a critique of society. It is because of mass culture: making a profit takes precedence over artistic expression. Access to culture is unequal, especially for people who live in the regions or who are from minority communities.

Emerging artists struggle to make a name for themselves. The biggest barrier is a lack of financial resources. Young people generally have debts to repay. The few grants available are hard to obtain, and the amount of red tape is often discouraging for young artists. Without support from their families, they are often forced to take a side job just to pay the bills.

Young people think that the federal government is not doing enough to promote the arts. It should take on the role of broadcasting arts and culture. It should treat the arts and culture sector the way it treats other sectors, such as the industrial sector. The arts and culture sector contributes to economic, social and cultural development, but governments push it to the back burner.

A number of recommendations came out of this consultation:

  • The government should rethink its approach to culture. It should be accountable, explaining exactly how much it allocates to culture, and what these funds are used for. The money should go directly to funding artistic creation, not to supporting the existing system, which suppresses artistic freedom. Canada should also increase support for its own cultural industry, following the European model, where 90% of its cultural industry is supported by government grants.
  • To encourage diversity and ensure that artists can maintain a decent standard of living, culture needs to be promoted to stimulate demand for art. A number of options were put forward, such as launching an awareness campaign on the importance of art, or broadcasting shows on culture. Some people suggested that the broadcasting act could be amended to require more diversity.
  • Culture should be promoted as early as possible. Partnerships must be established between schools and artists so that children can discover culture and imagine themselves working in the arts when they grow up.
  • To help young artists, the cost of post-secondary education needs to be lowered, and grants need to be more accessible. Mentorship is also an important part of helping emerging artists: professionals who have established themselves in their field can provide support, advice and a network for young artists. This could also happen through apprenticeships, which must be encouraged. Creating meeting places and rehabilitating the federal artistic fellowship program would establish a network for young artists.

 

The consultation was also a time to discuss political involvement with young people. Most of the people who attended the consultation said that young people should not be described as apolitical, despite a low voter turnout. The issues that are important to young people are never the hot-button issues, because politicians do not see their value. A vicious circle is established: the government shows no interest in young people, and young people show no interest in politics. Politicians are seen as in it for themselves, cynical, and never taking action. Those who attended the consultation said they had the impression that nothing ever changes and that scandals are never-ending.

Participants said that young people need knowledge, encouragement, constructive criticism and an ability to dream in order to get more involved. Efforts should focus on educating citizens and teaching philosophy. This can happen from a very young age. Teachers must validate ideas. Young people also need the space to dream, for example, by giving them opportunities to travel. Policies affecting young people should be developed by and for young people. They need to be directly involved and to see how it affects them.