The Summerworks funding cut may be the first of many from the federal government

Toronto’s annual Summerworks theatre and music festival has just lost its funding from the federal government’s Department of Canadian Heritage. The annual grant, which would have provided an estimated $48,000, represents about 20% of the total budget for the festival, which is scheduled to begin in just a few weeks.

Critics of the announcement suggest that the funding withdrawal may have had something to do with Homegrown, a previous Summerworks production by lawyer and playwright Catherine Frid about the Toronto 18. At the time, the play drew fire from the Conservative government, and prompted Stephen Harper himself to express concern over what Frid described as a “sympathetic portrayal” of a convicted terrorist.

A recent statement by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, however, suggests that the festival shouldn’t take it personally – because when it comes to the government’s new policy on arts and culture grants, their funding cut might be just a drop in the bucket.

“One thing I’d say, and maybe it’s different than it used to be, is we actually don’t believe in festivals and cultural institutions assuming that year after year after year they’ll receive government funding,” Flaherty said.

“They ought not assume entitlement to grants … no organization should assume in their budgeting that every year the government of Canada is going to give them grants because there’s lots of competition, lots of other festivals, and there are new ideas that come along. So it’s a good idea for everyone to stay on their toes and not make that assumption.”

I wonder what prominent Sun TV News personality and experimental Canadian Fox News angry blonde robot prototype Krista Erickson would think about these cuts. For that matter, I wonder what a record number of Canadians would think about Erickson’s opinion. May we also request that those of you who have not yet filed a complaint about her opinion refrain from doing so?

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