What this blog is about

It's an art blog.
Mostly about theatre... but also a healthy dose of pop culture, politics and shameless self-promotion.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Secret deal

CTV news is reporting that the Bloc and NDP have been chatting about a coalition well before Thursday's economic statement.

Already saw a couple of Conservatives on TV discrediting the whole idea of a coalition gov't. Talking points well in hand.

Again, bad optics on this one. I don't think the government will fall on Dec. 8, but after all that has happened in the last 48 hours, who knows what's next?


Both the NDP and Bloc are denying a "secret deal." The NDP is saying that the lines of communication have been open with all parties ever since we've been in a minority gov't situation with the Martin Liberals.

It also turns out that this tape of Jack Layton talking about a "secret deal" was provided to CTV by the Conservatives. Somehow they managed to tape a conference call of an NDP caucus meeting.

I guess when Harper said "use any tool at your disposal," he wasn't kidding.

This is craziness. I feel like I'm watching a symphony of Neros while Rome burns.


After watching NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair make a statement and take questions I feel a little better about the calibre of at least some of our representatives in Ottawa to be able to talk to the public like rational, intelligent adults. One of the things that I hated about the recent NDP election campaign was its populist language and brutally negative tone. I was happily able to listen to Mr. Mulcair without cringing.

Feel free to compare to the language used by Pierre Poilievre, Harper's parliamentary secretary. Pierre isn't as bad as some I've heard (on either side of the House), but I did laugh out loud at his assertion about how Mr. "Build A Firewall Around Alberta" Harper has battled separatism throughout his life.

While I'm less pessimistic about the coalition government failing, the Liberals have been very silent about this whole issue. The ball is really in their court, and I guess they're waiting to see how this all plays out. Given their penchant for weakness in the last parliament, I'm still hesitant to say this will actually happen. The coalition option requires boldness. We haven't seen that from the Liberals in a long while...

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Harper's cuts to the arts earlier this year showed more than a callous attitude towards Canadian culture... it revealed how he intends to govern, period.

What's happening on Parliament Hill right now is almost unheard of. And it hinges on a relatively small cut that will have a huge impact on a target group that is politically unfriendly to Harper's Conservatives.

Sound familiar?

Like the cuts to culture funding only a few months ago, the Conservatives' plan to eliminate public subsidies to political parties does nothing to solve the current economic crisis. It does, however, solidify their core support (presumably to distract from upcoming and unavoidable deficit spending the government will be forced to engage in) and it will also nearly destroy the opposition's ability to compete in the next federal election (which will probably be coming up in a matter of months, or even weeks, based on these moves.)

Like the culture cuts, the $30 million the government will save is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the $3 - $10 billion that economic forecasters are saying next year's deficit may amount to. However, just as the culture cuts disproportionately damaged the long-term viability of the exports component of our industry, cutting subsidies to political parties will also disproportionately hurt the opposition parties' finances and viability to construct a future election campaign (at least in the short term... when it will matter most).

During the election, I wrote that the culture funding cuts could be used as a political tool for progressive voters to describe a pattern of ideological governance by the Conservatives. However, I thought that Harper's capacity to do so would be contained by the context of a minority government and a worldwide economic crisis. Who knew that his ambitions would be so naked or bold.

As the Globe's Jefferey Simpson wrote
Thursday's economic statement was an economic lame duck and a political boner. It revealed, among other things, the kind of Conservative Party that all but its core supporters suspected would eventually be outed: a group of ideologues, led by a Prime Minister who discarded his campaign sweater to reveal an economist with a tin heart and a politician who looks everywhere for political advantage.

Instead of trying to grow Conservative support, he appealed only to his party's core. Instead of acting in a statesmanlike fashion at a time of crisis, he opted to play politics, proposing to cancel public subsidies for parties, a move that would disproportionately benefit his.

The Conservatives have altered the parliamentary schedule so that a vote of non-confidence won't happen until at least December 8. The G&M is reporting that the Conservatives are going to embark on a massive public relations blitz to build public opinion against a possible Liberal-NDP coalition government, relying on (ick) Bloc support.

As much as I am skeptical that this coalition would work for any extended amount of time, at this point I'm positive that anything would be better than this current bunch of goons that running the show.

What can we do about it?

Remember that the optics on this one are not so good for the progressive parties, and that's why the Conservatives tried to pull this fast one in the first place. Their plan is too shout as loud as they can to anyone that will listen that:
1) The opposition is trying to force an election because they are not willing to give up taxpayer-funded subsidies; and
2) The Conservatives won the election fair-and-square, and the opposition was not given a mandate to govern.

Please, shout back:
1) In a minority government situation, it was the Government's responsibility to maintain the confidence of the House, and the Conservatives failed miserably only six weeks after the election;
2) The Conservatives tried to use the most serious financial climate in seven decades in which thousands of Canadians have lost their livelihoods for their own political gain;
3) It's actually the Conservatives that want another $300 million dollar election, the opposition is actually taking extraordinary steps to avoid one by setting up a coalition government; and
3) The Conservatives were not given a mandate to govern either -- they lost 62% of the popular vote.

Remember: if this wasn't a blatantly political move, then why didn't the Conservatives also impose election advertising spending limits along with cuts to funding? Or alleviate individual donation caps?

The Department of Culture also has more tips about how to get involved and avoid being railroaded by this weekend's upcoming publicity blitz.

Seriously. What a friggin mess.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No more Batman?

Is this the end of Batman... or at least, Bruce Wayne as Batman?

Doubtful. We've seen it before. Superman died. Eventually he came back.

It did make for a great story though. It makes for even better publicity: your comic gets mentioned in regular newspapers.

But we're talking iconology here. (Plus a reinvigorated movie franchise.) There are certain heroes that will never die (for long). Their names are Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, and Wolverine.

Although... I'm still waiting for Captain America to come back. Is he back, yet?

Still, I'm interested to see what happens.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AWWWWW.... crap.

Ballet BC lays off entire company.

War Robots

Yeah, that's right... War Robots

Does this have anything to do with theatre?

Not yet...

There's a play in the making here, my friends. Meanwhile, let's all collectively weep for our future and pray for the coming of John Conner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Content is key, my friends...

Everyone is still gushing about Barack Obama's remarkable online political campaign, and many are looking for applicable marketing lessons for their own industries.

Even theatre. Check out the Guardian's Theatre blog to see what I mean.

I fully agree that there are lessons to be learned. However, let's all make sure not to get too swept up with the free marketing tools that Web 2.0 provides... because that's all they are, just tools. And those tools are going to see a surge in popularity in the next few months, rendering them less effective.

While the Obama campaign was masterful, its core strength was not the tools that it used but the idea that those tools were promoting. The concept was its core strength.

All you artists out there, please don't forget your core purpose: to make truly ingenious, exciting and captivating art. Learn about the tools to be able to market your work and utilize them to their full extent, but don't exclusively rely on them. Well-marketed but ultimately mediocre theatre will not serve you in the long run.

To paraphrase Scott McCloud, the content, not the surface of the apple, must be our primary focus.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A little inspiration

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura shared this quote, so I thought I'd pass it along...

This is the true joy in life, to be used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, to be thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap. To be a force of nature instead of a feverish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am a member of a community and as a member it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can before I die. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

- George Bernard Shaw

Thanks Lisa!