Austerity and


Cuts to publically funded cultural production

At the federal level, the Conservatives have chosen to cut the funding of culture-based state societies. For example, the National Film Board (NFB) has seen its funding reduced by about 10%, forcing it to lay off 73 people and shut down the CinéRobothèque in Montreal as well as movie theatres and the Mediatheque in Toronto, in addition to reducing support to independent movie-makers and cultural festivals and other events.

Furthermore, CBC and its francophone counterpart, the Société Radio-Canada (SRC), are also experiencing major budget cuts: due to reduced funding, 650 jobs have been abolished and the funding allocated to radio content as well as local and regional news coverage have been reduced substantially.

Privatising cultural funding

In Québec, the Marois government grants less and less funding to social, cultural, or artistic projects, preferring to work with Mécénat Placement Culture, a provincial program which encourages private patronage for cultural projects. Patronage is the funding granted by corporations to cultural projects, which, for a party dealing in austerity, seems to be the miracle solution. However, handing the role of funding cultural projects to corporations is akin to giving the private sector all discretionary power in the choice of which projects to fund.

Art as a commodity

In order to maximise the productivity of workers, Québec has decided to exploit art through its Culture in the Workplace program. The idea is as follows: by sending artists to the private sector, they will contribute to improving the 'sense of belonging' and the 'creative processes' of employees, which in turn in supposed to make them happier, and hence, more productive. Reducing artists to a productivity-enhancing tool removes from culture its humanist and critical aspects in favour of the reinforcement of the established order.