The CBC, Funding Cuts and Canadian Musicians

You may have seen election-style lawn signs popping up all over that read We Vote CBC. Follow a link and you end up at a site asking you to sign a petition against further government cuts to the nation’s public broadcaster.

Obviously, how you feel about the issue depends on what you think about the CBC. If you believe that it’s a bloated organization that promotes its own left-wing biases in everything it does, you might interpret “We Vote CBC” as a demand that all taxpayers subsidize the cultural, artistic and political views of a certain block of Canadians–maybe like you.

You might also interpret this to mean “Please continue to support a government organization that allows situations like what we saw with Jian Gomeshi, Evan Soloman and Amanda Lang get out of control.”

Those in private broadcast might think “Please continue to allow the CBC to be vastly overstaffed when compared to private broadcasters.”  You may have your own thoughts.

There is, however, an area where the CBC does undeniably good work: promoting Canadian music. And not just rock and pop, but all genres, right down to experimental jazz, modern classical and a multitude of indigenous artists. Commercial radio and TV almost never touches those niche areas. I quite enjoy CBC Radio 3 for its 100% indie Cancon approach.

Mike Raine of Canadian Music Magazine wrote this piece for The Huffington Post on the subject.

Funding cuts are slowly killing the CBC and severely damaging the Canadian music industry. That is why my colleagues and I at Canadian Musician magazine are taking a stand and asking the Canadian music industry to join us. Using the platform, we’ve launched the “Save Canadian Music: Keep the CBC Alive” petition and campaign.

Though Canadian Musician magazine has traditionally steered clear of politics, part of its mandate since the first issue in 1979 has been to help musicians navigate a difficult career path. No media outlet has done more to further the careers of Canadian artists than the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). We feel emphatically that the federal government’s recent funding cuts to the CBC pose too great a threat to the careers of artists and our colleagues in the music industry. By bringing attention to this, we’ve struck a nerve with the music community. In just two days, the petition had over 2,100 signatures. After just five days, the petition and campaign had over 3,500 signatures and the vocal support of major artists and industry figures, including Tegan & Sara, Sam Roberts Band, Arkells, Matthew Good, and Frank Davies, the famed Canadian record producer, music publisher, and founder of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The CBC is suffering from a series of funding cuts implemented by the federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The 2012 federal budget cut $115 million from the CBC over three years. While this has negative consequences for all Canadians as this national institution is forced to cut jobs and scale back its reach and scope, the country’s music and arts communities, in particular, stand to lose. In many cases, it’s already happening.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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