The cultural policy disconnect

Response from policy makers and cultural leaders to the upcoming symposium, Reframing the cultural policy dialogue, has been strong. With a sold-out in-person audience, and a growing list of live-stream registrants, this event appears to be timely for the sector.

How do average Canadians feel about cultural policy though?

A recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute gauged Canadians’ attitudes to our culture. In their words, “most consider Canadian culture to be unique, worthy of, and critically in need of protection to survive.” Seventy percent of Canadians say that Canada still needs specific protection policies and support from government for Canadian culture to survive.

Why then is cultural policy rarely on the public radar, let alone debated?

In a 2011 Nanos poll conducted for The Arts Advocate, respondents were asked how important a party’s arts and culture platform was to their vote.: Only one in ten Canadians said it was important. Five in ten Canadians said it was neither important or unimportant, while fully four in ten Canadians said it was unimportant. There is no reason to believe these numbers would have changed much.

When you contemplate the implications of these unique surveys together, it’s clear why decision-makers will say that support for culture is a mile wide and an inch deep.

How does the cultural sector change this? Our goal is that Reframing the cultural policy dialogue will explore some options in this regard.

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