Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Somebody said, "Fair Warning! Lord strike that poor boy down!

Don’t be drinking a hot beverage when you jump to CBC and read this (I don’t want you to choke or burn your lap):

So... the Government was considering $1.6 million to bring a bunch of aging (aged) American rockers to the Island in the same year that they provided less than 10% of that amount to Music PEI that assists Island musicians? Big events should run on tickets and merchandise. If we're going to spend money on musicians, let's spend it on our own. I can hardly imagine what our Island Musicians could accomplish with $1.6 million dollars helping them with recording, marketing, promotion and more. Who knows, maybe the next Van Halen is right here right now.

Of course, maybe that's the Government strategy, force our musicians to leave, get famous (maybe) somewhere else, then, if you've made it big (preferably in the US – à la Aerosmith and, apparently, Van Halen) the Government will pony up hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. Yeah... that's it.

As I read it, the Government was seriously considering the $1.6 million, pulling back only when the amount escalated. Even considering the $1.6 is utterly ridiculous.

Now, I must be clear. I was a huge fan of Aerosmith back in the day. I hand-painted the back of my demin jacket with the Aerosmith logo. I saw them three times in concert. I saw Van Halen pre-Sammy Hagar, then again with Hagar (oh, the humanity), and saw David Lee Roth as a solo act (mostly to see Steve Vai who was on guitar – awesome). I was, and suppose I still am, somewhat (1981's "Fair Warning" remains an incredible album), a fan of those two bands. For those who are curious “the day” I refer two was back in the mid-eighties where both these bands probably belong. I don't listen to either except for the rare, nostalgic, moment. Want to hear some incredible contemporary music? Here you go:

(If your reading this on Facebook follow this link to YouTube)

Or you could watch this one:
or this one: ...and so on, and so on, and so on...

Now, to be even clearer, as I note some of my blog posts are becoming more strongly worded when referencing this current Government, I AM a member of the Liberal Party. Seriously. Got a card and everything. “Wow” you’re saying. “Really?” you wonder.

Yep. Really. Don’t even really know why anymore.

So what’s up with me then? I’m gobsmacked, flabbergast, and many other two and three-syllable words, with where Arts and Culture have fallen this past year. Let’s face it, the funds for Music PEI were generated under the last Government, the agreement to assist with the Council’s property tax mess was achieved under the last Government. The Council’s 2006 Community Consultations report was mentioned on the floor of the Legislature by the, then, opposition critic Carolyn Bertram (now the Minister responsible for Culture)…

…now… well, what now? A few extra dollars for Music PEI. No increase at all for the Council. A $50,000 program that came out of nowhere to partner artists with Seniors (not a bad idea but this did come out of left field, we have no idea where it’s going and – to put not too fine a point on this one – there is already an organization, the Council, who is rather expert at implementing programs and who has, in our strategic plan, to promote “Lifelong learning in and through the Arts”). Yes, there’s now some in-kind partnership to move ahead with one of our own projects – appreciated but clearly nowhere near what is needed as a comprehensive set of supports and programs for the arts.

Back to the Music. If the Government has any plans, and I mean any plans at all to spend money on artists, PLEASE let it be on, or in support of, our own artists. How will we ever know if there’s a super group in our midst? Who will be the next Lucy Maud? Is the next Robert Bateman packing their bags right now, leaving for Montreal, Toronto, or Vancouver, never to return? Probably.

Implicit message from Government: We value Island Music at 10% of the value we place on American super groups.

Message from me to Government: Support your artists here on PEI at 10 times the value you place on American super groups.

Van Halen… are you kidding me?