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Question 17: In your opinion, how could society provide better support for the dissemination and the development of visual arts?
Well it’s not complicated. First there would have to be… when we talk of a country, it’s Canada, with its federal institutions. I was on the Arts Council for three years, from 1972 to 1975, and I stirred up lots of things there. What’s really happening is that the National Gallery isn’t doing its work at the level of… Okay they will look after works of art that come from elsewhere. It’s alright to bring those things in, or to show a restricted group of Canadian artists. But the role of the National Gallery, in the 1950s and 1960s, was really important because they organized exhibitions and they circulated them all across Canada. Now they leave that role to local galleries, but local galleries don’t have the resources. We admire them, all those galleries in the Maritimes. Some of them have more money than others and organise exhibitions, but touring is always limited. So on that level, I’m only speaking for visual arts, at that level, we suffer a great deal from the lack of organisation, federally. With regards to the provincial level, while it’s evolving slowly, there still needs to be a lot more resources. It’s interesting to see the public’s opinion. Oh, people like culture; here culture doesn’t cost a thing. With politicians, if there’s an artist from our region who has any success, all of the glory goes to the province, the politicians and all that. Do politicians deserve this, does the province deserve it? The people deserve it, because the primary satisfaction is to know that you’ve established contact with someone. On the other hand, the public has to be in the know, has to have the will to encourage or put pressure on the politicians to improve the system. There’s always some of that being done, but not enough for the number of artists involved now. Lastly, I’m repeating myself a bit; I say that artists are a resource. They are a renewable resource that is in full expansion, as opposed to other industries, such as fisheries. So we are a fish, all kinds of fish that are more important than a cod.