Dear Stephen Harper,
I know that you think that you have the ultimate power in our country, that you are able to squash out dissent and anything else that you disagree with like a pesky ant crawling up the walls of 24 Sussex Drive. I know that you seek to cut the government funding to the artists because you see them as a threat to your stronghold on the Canadian people. The artists ask questions. The artists stand for change. The artists seek equality and freedom and, in general, support socialist policies to help create a better world with fewer people dying of diseases, fewer people uneducated, unemployed and impoverished and more happy neighbourhoods that care about one another and the environment and look toward the bright future with a sense of optimistic responsibility. The artists seek to lead the world and to stand tall and proud as Canadians in the knowledge that our country is a beacon for justice, for peace, for activism and human rights. I am writing to you today to tell you that you are terribly mistaken.
I know that you think that you can use a year old controversy over a play that was hyped by your government as “glorifying terrorism” (and this hype was debunked by all the reviewers who saw the play, including the reviewer from The Globe and Mail, the newspaper that championed you so ardently during the last election) to threaten to bring the entire SummerWorks Festival, all those who defied your prerogative to shut down the play in question last year, to a screeching halt by pulling their funding at the last minute. I am here to tell you, that is not going to happen.
What is going to happen, Mr. Harper, is the more that you seek to stomp out Canada’s beloved, vibrant, stubborn, passionate, loud-mouthed, determined, intelligent, creative and integral artistic community, the more they are going to rally together in protest. When the SummerWorks Festival gets under way at the beginning of August, this is going to be a huge victory for the artists in their struggle against your repressive regime, and it will empower them, embolden them and make them feel invincible. The more that you seek to take away, the more the community will pull together, the more that the thousands and thousands of “ordinary Canadians,” likely some who even voted for you, Mr. Harper, will become angry that the festivals and theatres that they have frequented, donated to, sponsored, relied upon for business or advertising, subscribed to and loved, are being placed in jeopardy by you. These ordinary Canadians will unite with the artistic community in their resentment, their unrest, their shame and anger, against you and your government. They will be loud and disruptive and the more you cut and the more you try to silence them, the louder and louder and more emboldened and strong, confident and victorious the people will be.
You are afraid, I know you are because your actions scream, “I AM TERRIFIED!!!! I AM SO AFRAID OF THESE THEATRE PEOPLE!! SHUT THEM DOWN!!! SHUT THEM DOWN!!!” It is obvious. It doesn’t give me confidence in your ability to lead this country when you are reacting in such an overtly cowardly way. It doesn’t give confidence to the people who work with your wife at the National Arts Centre either. It doesn’t give confidence to the people who voted for you when you are showcasing your fears on your sleeve.
I know you think that waging war on the artists and cutting their funding will make you feel invincible, but the reality is that it could spell disaster for your government for the entire duration of your leadership. You are putting ordinary people’s businesses in jeopardy, thousands and thousands of them and the ripple effect of the loss of even one established festival will reach out farther than you can even imagine. It is not worth your time. It is not worth the money you will both waste and lose. And you will not even be victorious. I know this community, it is a phoenix, it will rise out of any ash, more resolute and beautiful than ever.
You don’t scare us, Mr. Harper. We’re not going anywhere.
HELP AND SUPPORT SUMMERWORKS, DONATE $21.00 (or more!) RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE SO THAT MICHAEL RUBENFELD AND HIS TEAM CAN MEET THEIR FINANCIAL NEEDS AND GET BACK TO FOCUSING ON THE ART, WHICH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL. GO HERE! DO THIS!!