"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Labrador is always on the federal agenda

As CBC News reports today, Paul Shelley is meeting with his federal culture-vulture and sporty-spice counterparts today in Ottawa.

As partial compensation for (yet again) refusing to fund a replacement for the hand-me-down auditorium, on the former American Side of Goose Bay, that was the main stage of the performing arts scene in central-eastern Labrador for decades, Shelley promises that "a new auditorium for Labrador is on the agenda [in his meetings with federal government types]."

The only problem is, the auditorium was already on the federal agenda. Canadian Heritage notionally allocated $300,000 towards the project, two fiscal years ago, under the department's now-defunct Cultural Spaces Program.

That funding, representing some 10% of the estimated price tag, had been allocated, and was held over, and held over again, on the vague promises of Paul Shelley's predecessors that the provincial share would soon be forthcoming. The notional allocation for the auditorium in Happy Valley-Goose Bay expires at the end of the current fiscal year — that is, nine calendar days from now, with the Easter holidays in between — along with the rest of Culture Spaces Program.

There is a disturbing, yet all-too-predictable pattern at work here. You saw it with the replacement of the hand-me-down Melville Hospital, also inherited from the Americans. The new Labrador Health Centre required an infusion of happymoney™ from Inco/Voisey's Bay Nickel before the Tobin government would unlock the remainder of the funding for a provincial hospital in a part of the province.

The Trans-Labrador Highway was the subject of yesterday's blawg entry.

And now the needed performing space for central and eastern Labrador. (Labrador West's cultural scene has a full-fledged provincial Arts and Culture Centre.)

Perhaps the auditorium isn't the highest item on the priority list for the province generally, or for Happy Valley-Goose Bay or Labrador in particular.

But... There's a "but". There are several.

If the provincial government, in spending $160,000 more on the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, $2.4-million for "the continued development of cultural industries", whatever that means, $6-million for the operation of The Rooms (does anyone care to check Hansard to see what the Tories used to think of The Rooms?), $2.29-million for the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, a subsidy for the Music Industry Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (an industry organization that really ought to be self-funding), reinstatement of the Art Procurement Program, &c., &c., &c.;

if, in short, culture and the arts are as big a priority for his government as the Throne Speech and budget docs would have it, then what credibility does Loyola Sullivan have in saying that there were other, more pressing priorities for Happy Valley-Goose Bay? (And is a town or region only allowed one priority at a time?)

Furthermore, what credibility does Danny Williams have in saying that arts and culture in Newfoundland and Labrador are part of his Grand Scheme, when so obvious an investment has been omitted from the goodies list for little better reason than... than what? That it's in Labrador? "Integral part of the province", blah, blah, blah.

Finally, if the provincial government, even when spoon-fed a substantial federal contribution, refuses to bite, what credibility does Paul Shelley have going to Ottawa to lobby for a federal contribution to this project, when his own government, in its budget, just turned Ottawa's offer down flat?

And just wait: within a matter of weeks, possibly days, the Tories will be complaining that they would build an auditorium for central-eastern Labrador, but that evil and nefarious Ottawa won't pay its fair share.

The questions bear repeating: Labrador is part of the province — a province — some province, somewhere — isn't it?

Do you happen to know which one?

Does Paul Shelley?


At 6:02 PM, March 24, 2005 , Blogger Gabby said...

We already suspect what he's going to the federal gov't for: The Arcturus Theatre. They've been trying to get the Melville area arts community to take it on as a business and to incorporate live performances into the schedule.

That's an idiotic proposition. We're all volunteers and have no business experience. The Arcturus is totally unsuitable for live theatre: no wings to speak of, no storage space, shallow stage, can't hang lights, etc, etc. I'd prefer to keep performing in Hangar 6; while not ideal, it at least has space to store stuff and it kind of felt like home after the last 6 weeks spent there.


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