Friday, April 29, 2005

Planned Economies part two

Paul Van Meerbergen on the Creative Cities proposal:

Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen believes it will lead to higher taxes.

"There's a whole theme that runs throughout about the culture division. This is becoming like an omnipresent, very powerful division within the city government, which will be a new creation and will have its fingers into all sorts of areas of the local economy and culture," he said.

He also labels as "Orwellian" the report's statement that it's about "changing how London thinks."

He also doubts the recommendations will draw the people it intends to.

"I'm part of the 25- to 44-year-old group that they're trying to attract and the reason I came to London was because there was a career-oriented position open to me and London seemed like a safe, nice city to bring up family. It certainly wasn't because buildings had art on them or because there were hundreds of bohemians."
Unfortunately, but predictably, the majority of council support this motion put forth by Gord Hume. The main concerns voiced by most supporters are that the entire proposal, including the controversial arts center, won't get passed quickly enough:
Councillor Joni Baechler: "(The report) is remarkable, it's wonderful. I'm so excited. . . . I really have a fear we're going down the road of nitpicking and nickel-and-diming a lot of the recommendations and we'll end up with a limp creative city."

Councillor Harold Usher: "I hope we will be implement (the recommendations) in such a way that it will become reality and not just words on paper."

George Kerhoulas, task force member on the debate over the motion: "Democracy is not efficient."
Clearly Hume should be elevated to the status of dictator in name to match his deeds.

Hume was interviewed by the Free Press regarding his proposal. Let see what he has to say:
Q: How do you define culture?

Hume: We're defining culture in the sense of creative industries -- the broadest definition. The arts are part of that, as is research, as is engineering, software development, medical biotech . . . the media, advertising agencies, sound recording, film studios. [. . .]

Q: How much of this is really about economic development?

Hume: A big chunk. Absolutely, no question. This was never about hanging pretty pictures on a wall. That was clear to me from when I first created this (task force). I think other people began to understand that quite quickly. And I think that's really why council will end up embracing the report.

Q: Is there room for culture that is of the kind that might be defined as art for art's sake?

Hume: Oh, of course. And we've been very clear in the report. As a matter of fact, we've devoted two chapters to it -- one on public arts, one on the arts. The one per cent of public projects (to be spent on art) -- that's a significant recommendation. We're also saying things like a literary hall of fame. We're saying London should appoint its first artist in residence. We're saying get some stable funding for the London Arts Council.

Q: In terms of diversity, who's being left out in London?

Hume: I guess I wouldn't look at it that way. I guess I would look on it as saying we have some very strong multicultural groups and pockets and communities. But when you look overall in London, there are a number of ethnic groups that aren't particularly represented here. So what we're hoping for is to expand our ethnic and multicultural base. And that gets back to the immigration issue.

Q: Are the gay and lesbian communities being left out?

Hume: Gosh, I hope not because they're an important part of the creative city. [. . .]

Q: How will we know things are changing? What are the measures?

Hume: Because we've asked the culture division to bring back an annual report to board of control with standards, with measurables. . . . There will be employment in the industry, there will be audio recordings or films made in London, or whatever.

Q: You were talking about looking at this on a regional level. Why would other municipalities buy into the London as the capital of Southwestern Ontario?

Hume: I think because together we're stronger. . . . When people come to Southwestern Ontario, the Great Lakes area, we're all going to benefit. Whether they spend the night in a motel in St. Thomas or whether they come to London for a meal in a restaurant or whether they visit the Stratford Festival, we all benefit. On the larger economic sense, if Woodstock gets a car plant, London will benefit. There will be 100 homes in southeast London sold because of the Woodstock car plant.
Ha! Hume is assuming that people will want to come to London. If people stay, it will be because there are no prospective buyers for their homes. Homeowners in London: sell now and get the hell out before its too late.

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