From the Editor: The Politics of Art and Power

"Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours" can be translated into “a good sketch is better than a long speech," meaning ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Ever wonder who said that? It was Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the heaviest innovators in Western politics. He disallowed aristocratic privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and made sure government jobs go to the most qualified candidates and not to the most wealthy. He established a strong judicial system with the ‘rule of law’ which has influenced much of the world. The reason I mention his success is to exemplify how one of the most powerful leaders of Western politics also created one of the most clichéd commentaries on art - “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Whether it be comedy or tragedy, the influence of art is recognized by those who hold power. To this day, there is still political censorship on art not because it is art but because of the power it holds. Photographs of Iraq’s scenes of death were banned from mainstream media for a long time after the Iraq war started, and the power the photographs would have had on us were what caused the delay. And who was voted in Times Magazine as today’s most trusted newsman? Jon Stewart, an artist of comedy. Only through comedy can Stewart give the most stinging criticisms on television in our political climate.

The reason I want to establish this relationship between arts and politics is because I want to give perspective on what it means when the arts are being erased from our province. In this issue, Laura Kane’s article writes about how Richard's on Richards, a cornerstone in Vancouver’s music scene, is being replaced by a generic condo. Sarah Hager's article on the Ruby Slippers Theatre shows how an important performance house is struggling for survival, and Claudia Pedrero’s article focuses on how the B.C. government intends to cut 90% of arts funding across the Province. That’s 90% of the arts we find in B.C. That’s 90% of our potential power. Although that power is not always used, its potential is indisputable. From Hitler to Alexander, all the greatest tyrants and leaders of history agreed on the immense worth of the arts. Whether one encourages this outside power or prevents it, it is what separates leaders from tyrants. B.C. is not censoring the arts yet, but we’re no longer cultivating this essential expression of the people. What is it worth to you?

Alamir Novin

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