We need quality architecture, art and music to remain a vibrant city
Friday, April 11, 2008
Today, thousands of people will be taking part in protests in front of CBC buildings across the country. They have called this a "National Day of Action to Save CBC Radio 2 and the CBC Radio Orchestra."
Seems like a good occasion to reflect on what we may mean when we speak of "culture" here on the wet edge.
I am in complete sympathy with those who have decried this move by CBC brass to dismantle the last remaining radio orchestra in North America, and a damn good one to boot.
To disable this treasure under the guise of saving less than a million dollars is to define the old adage, "penny- wise and pound-foolish."
But what is even more offensive is the ready answer from so many citizens: "Good, kill the damn thing, I don't want my tax money paying for a government radio/TV/Internet mess."
Yes, the CBC needs a major overhaul. It wanders in mandarin deserts, showing a thousand faces to the shifting sands of taste. It is rarely mindful of a central vision or purpose, in spite of the fact that its core values are written into national legislation.
But, it is an important and valuable institution. Disband it and you will have the choice of rap or rap and pap or pap.
For all its sorry mistakes, the CBC brings us, albeit in ever-decreasing small doses, the alternate programming that commercial broadcasters will never offer.
The same hick town outrage emerged when the B.C. government announced on March 7 a $50-million gift to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a possible re-location from its present site at Georgia and Howe. "Spend that money on homelessness" went the cry.
Of course, we should spend many, many millions on building adequate housing for the homeless.
But what's that got to do with funding the art gallery? This is not an either/or proposition.
And while we're at it, how about the federal government spending $100 million on the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the Vancouver Museum?
Did you know that secreted away in the dusty bowels of that A-frame on Kits Beach are genuine artifacts from the Titanic?
You've never seen them because there is no space to show them. This is not a Leonardo DiCaprio movie. This is the real thing.
This city exists and functions because it is a port. It's those freighters in English Bay that take away potash and bring in Toyotas and blue jeans that make the place tick. Shouldn't we celebrate that?
On Tuesday night, Vancouver trumpeter Brad Turner, bassist Jodi Prosnick and Cellar Jazz Club owner and record producer Cory Weeds swept the National Jazz Awards. That too is an important part of West Coast culture.
City Hall announced on March 27 another $11 million for the beer strip known as Granville Mall. This is somebody's idea of culture?
We need music and architecture and art.
Without them, life is one long dental appointment.