When klezmer troubadour Geoff Berner sings that “the dead, dead children were worth it”, he does so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Berner’s “Official Theme Song for the 2010 Vancouver Whistler Olympic Games” mockingly lauds the BC government for dismantling the Children’s Comission—a provincial body that investigated children’s deaths—in order to pay for the Olympics. And this is just one of many programs that have been scaled back or eliminated as the government makes cuts to compensate for a Olympic-sized deficit.
I caught up with Geoff in Saskatoon last week as he kicked off his latest tour, which will see his trio criss-cross the prairies before heading to Norway in early March. With the Vancouver Olympics just around the corner, I wanted to know how he felt about the long-term economic legacy of the games in BC, and how artists could get involved in speaking up against cuts to arts funding and social programs.