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Canada's Heritage Minister James Moore speaks in Ottawa, March 26, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/CHRIS WATTIE / REUTERS)
Canada's Heritage Minister James Moore speaks in Ottawa, March 26, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/CHRIS WATTIE / REUTERS)

Public policy

Can James Moore be both arts champion and axe man? Add to ...

“Any government that says that they have a plan for economic recovery, growth and future growth, that doesn’t include a strong plan to support the arts, is a government that doesn’t have a plan for economic growth and recovery,” Moore said during that funding announcement last week.

“Supporting the arts isn’t a left wing issue or a right wing issue. It’s the right thing to do. And it’s good for Canada. And we’re going to continue supporting the arts.”

Still, many in the arts community are unhappy with the Heritage dollars going to what Lindsay Brown with Arts Advocacy BC calls the “ridiculously expensive War of 1812 ... extravaganza” ($28-million over three years has been allotted to commemorate the event’s 200th anniversary). She’s hard on Moore over this, as well as the recent loss of federal funding to the BC Touring Council, which has received Heritage funding for 20 years. But she called it “fantastic news” that the Canada Council wasn’t cut in the budget. “I would say that James Moore is cautiously respected in the arts sector due to the fact that he has actually made a case for public investment in the arts in Canada. That is pretty rare among politicians.”

Moore seems to have transcended politics in this portfolio – a surprise, given the polarizing political climate and the disdain that many in the arts community have for the Conservative government.

“There are those of us in the arts who don’t share Harper’s ideology and we don’t share his party’s modus operandi. But we still have a wary respect for James Moore,” said David Pay, artistic director with the Vancouver series Music on Main, who has clashed with the Minister on Twitter, but tweeted praise and a thank you on Thursday. “He’s obviously super-smart and he seems to at least understand our issues.”

While Moore basked in these arts-community accolades late this week, he has also taken heat from some in his party’s base because of his outspoken support for the arts. “There are obviously some critics out there who don’t think that investing in culture is a Conservative ethic,” said Moore. “And that’s not how I view it.”

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