The Toronto Star’s series on Canadian culture

Over the last three weeks, the Toronto Star has been running a fascinating series on the lives and livings of artists in Canada.

While it’s not an academic treatment of cultural policy, there is still much of interest in the many anecdotes that Bruce Demara and his colleagues have gathered on the cultural economy of Ontario, particularly as Canada is in many ways a similar-sized country as Australia.

We Australians often think Canada has quite an enlightened approach to supporting culture, particularly in terms of broadcasting, but as the series reveals there are some disturbing similarities to the plight of our own artists as revealed by Throsby and Hollister’s Don’t Give Up Your Day Job.

The Star’s series reveals that Hollywood film production – long a staple of the Canadian cultural industries – is drying up, probably in response to the introduction of many state-based subsidies in the US. As Allen Scott has shown in his research, this is characteristic of subsidy-based foreign film production – a kind of “hot money” which tends to chase the highest subsidies.

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