Art class

My column this week wades into the Harper vs. subsidized artists fracas, arguing that it takes two sides to make a wedge issue:

Harper may have been tapping into the resentment his people feel for their people, but rest assured Stéphane Dion was doing exactly the same. Each, in his own way, was offering to protect his’n from their’n. In a word, it was about class…

The media see Harper talking about subsidized whiners or ivory towers and scream “culture war.” But it isn’t culture war. It’s class war…

It is the culturati, not their Harperite antagonists, who have made this a wedge issue over the years, as a test of class loyalty. The perspiring middlebrows they have herded into the subsidy tent are anxious not to be thought uncultured, but more anxious still not to be thought lower class. It isn’t love of the arts that unites them. It’s horror of “the market” — of them.

As for the underlying “should we subsidize the arts?” chestnut, see my magnum opus from the Fall 1996 issue of the gloriously unsubsidized (and now sadly defunct) Next City magazine. Short answer: No.

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