In a year marked by the dullest Canadian election in decades, the arts featured prominently in the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. As the Conservative government chopped up arts funding and dreamed up censorship schemes, Canada’s arts community fought back with drama, ditty and diatribe.
CBC published a list of their top ten Canadian arts newsmakers for 2008, and unsurprisingly the majority of them have a political bent to them.
Young People Fucking: the controversial film about, well, young people fucking, was a flashpoint for hotheaded Conservative politicians who were looking for a scapegoat when seeking to censor Canadian films.
Michel Rivard: the Quebec songwriter joined in the resistance to government arts censorship, starring in Culture in Danger, where he plays a songwriter before a federal arts board staffed with indignant anglos, who reject funding for his song about a seal (or phoque in french), deeming it offensive.
Lawrence Hill: the Ontario author’s latest novel, The Book of Negroes, wins the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Writers Trust Award for fiction. The work is a first-person narrative of an 18th century African slave who petitions a British monarch to end slavery.