The arts explosion in Canada

(Canscene) — Sixty years ago, the erection of a statue of a modern Canadian poet on the grounds of Queen’s Park would have been unthinkable,  but there he is, larger than life: Al Purdy one of Canada’s most widely quoted poets.

Just another example of the arts explosion in a country, which this citizen remembers as a virtual cultural wasteland 60 years ago. True there were token art galleries, museums and symphony orchestras in many Canadian cities, even the  Royal Winnipeg Ballet. And the Hart House Theatre company which spawned some theatrically famous players.

Today there are 125 listed film festivals across Canada ranging from the now gigantic Toronto International to the Arctic Circle.

Our art galleries and museums are included in tours of major historic displays and exhibitions.

To name a mere handful, names such as Christopher Plummer, Glen Gould, Mordecai Richler, Leonard Cohen, Atom Egoyan, Maureen Forrester and Anton Kuerti are known internationally.

The second edition of the groundbreaking Toronto arts festival Luminato reminds me of how far, culturally, Canada has come since I landed here in 1967, the year of the Canadian Citizenship Act which gave us all the opportunity to be classed as real Canadians instead of colonials.

Having just completed its second year, Luminato has once again justified the faith and initiative of its founders and government investors.  Events like this began as dreams, like that of Tom Patterson and his Shakespearean Festival in an Ontario railroad town.

We are where we are today because of the continued courage of dreamers and their supporters like Tony Gagliano and David Pecaut.

This is a spirit we must still occasionally fight to preserve especially in the protest against proposed government measures like Bill C10 which would in effect, stifle free expression in our still young film production industry.

Let’s cast aside crying in our beer over sports losses and sound  a rousing HURRAH for the arts in Canada.

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