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Vancouver event searches for a future for the CBC

Satellite dishes sits on the roof of one of the CBC studios in Halifax on Wednesday April 4, 2012.

Andrew Vaughan/CP

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to Canada's national broadcaster, even if many of the arguments begin and end with "fund them" or "don't fund them."

Monday in Vancouver, the Vogue Theatre will host Reimagine CBC – a discussion about the future of the CBC that the event organizers hope will move the conversation on to a more constructive level

Formed in January by three advocacy groups –, Leadnow and Gen Why Media – Reimagine CBC was a response to the anticipated (and realized) cuts to the broadcaster's budget by the Harper government.

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Canadians are asked to contribute ideas via the organization's website or Facebook page on what a CBC that really grasped the possibilities of a digital future might look like.

The ideas posted so far run the gamut from predictable (more Canadian content; more French) to the very particular (pitches for new programs, often facsimiles of popular BBC shows) with plenty of smart and earnest suggestions for decentralizing and democratizing the organization.

"We wanted to create an environment that did not position the public as victims," explains Tara Mahoney, creative director of Gen Why Media. "We didn't want to create a forum to complain and dwell on the cuts, but rather encourage individuals to innovate and solve the problem."

Monday night's live event, featuring storytelling, live music and debate, is the first of what Reimagine CBC hopes to become a series (so far, another is planned for Toronto in the Fall). The line up features stories from Ivan Coyote and Wade Davis, music from a Vancouver "supergroup" that includes Dan Mangan and the Zolas' Zachary Gray, and a "living room conversation" panel that includes documentary film-maker Nettie Wild, comedian Sean Devlin and Steve Pratt, director of CBC Radio 3.

Pratt is careful to say he is taking part informally. "The evening isn't framed as somewhere that decisions will be made," he notes. "But it is a chance for me to listen to all the wonderful dialogue that's going around about the public broadcaster, and I am able to take it back to the CBC."

"I don't know what the CBC will do with the ideas and subsequent report that comes out of Reimagine CBC," Mahoney says. "They may choose not to listen, but I am optimistic that they will. They will change because they understand they have to."

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