Tuesday, May 29, 2018

You Will Be Diverse!

Honestly, I really do try to avoid politics here at the Music Salon, except, as previously stated, in self-defence. But this item from Ludwig van Toronto is hard to ignore: Canadian Opera Company And TSO Get Funding Slashed Over Diversity Concerns.
As first reported by Signal Toronto, an independent outlet that focuses on covering Toronto City Hall, Toronto City Council has clawed back funding expected by the Canadian Opera Company (COC) and Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) for the 2018-19 season.
The city has cut $100,000 from the COC’s proposed $1.6 million grant, and $50,000 from the TSO’s $1.27 million grant. The money represents a significant financial blow to each of the organization’s bottom lines.
Norm Kelly, a board member of the TSO and city Councillor, described the cuts as a “wake-up slap,” to those arts groups who might otherwise take city diversity guidelines lightly.
Ah yes, the civilized courtesy of a "wake-up slap."
Ludwig Van first made mention of concerns towards the diversity of Toronto’s big six arts organizations this past December, when we found that board memberships were generally white, and in some cases, mostly male.
Diversity requirements have become an increasingly important feature for granting programs that look for assurances that applicants audiences, staff, board membership all reflect the demographics of the city.
“We’re looking for evidence that they’re trying to reflect the city’s demographics,” Williams said in a statement to Signal Toronto. Otherwise, they are in danger of not accurately representing the cultural fabric of the city, which now sits at the top of global urban diversity rankings.
In 2017, The Canada Council for the Arts implemented new diversity assessment guidelines which were no longer seen as best-practice, but a major factor in determining how much money an organization receives. The diversity criteria not only extends to staff and governance but also a commitment by arts organizations towards diversifying audiences.
Canadians are, on the whole, an agreeable people--the national motto is "Peace, Order and Good Government" which often seems to lead to A Great Deal of Government. Canadians also like to think of themselves as being very fair and reasonable. Discussion of social problems often comes down to making a few "reasonable" restrictions on natural freedoms of expression and association for the Greater Good. As has been pointed out many, many times, most recently and quite vehemently by Jordan Peterson, Canada's current most prominent public intellectual, the drive to diversity and equity is a direct attack on freedom. Here is a very brief clip where Peterson talks about diversity:

You can find dozens of others if you hunt around. The point is that the drive for public institutions to simply fall into crude identity politics is not only simple-minded, it is also simply wrong for technical reasons. Oh, and it is also profoundly racist and sexist! Just look at the quotes above: "board memberships were generally white, and in some cases, mostly male." The implication is that the crucial factors in determining the worth of these board members were race and sex. You can't get much more racist and sexist than that!

So the idea is that you have to replace white, male board members who were presumably chosen for their competence, experience and knowledge in the specific cultural area with people who have less of that, but are of the correct skin color and sex. And if you don't, you will be punished by having your government grants reduced. Wake up, Canada, you are now under the authoritarian rule of cultural commissars who will tell you who can serve on your board of directors and, presumably, following the same logic, who can play in your orchestra and sing in your opera.


Will Wilkin said...

It always confounds me how the self-identified "fighters against racism" are, aside from perhaps the overt deliberate racists, emphasizing race as a real and significant form of identity. While it seems fundamental to human nature that part of our individual identity must indeed include aspects of group identity, it seems equally true that our group identities should reflect functional and constructive shared interests, such as citizenship in nation wherein we share culture and a dependency on common institutions, such as institutions and infrastructure necessary to our common security and quality of life. Of course there are smaller units of identity, rooted in other shared experiences and interests, from occupational or lifestyle commonalities to local communities and family. By contrast, racial identities can only undermine such functional and constructive identities, yet for some reason the supposed anti-racists cling to them most tightly. When can we just be people?

Bryan Townsend said...

Very true, Will. I often suspect that these seemingly "reasonable" initiatives are in reality divisive political tactics.

David said...

Bryan, I realize that it is possible that this comment will cause you to never again post even a slightly political topic to your blog. But that is not my purpose or objective. My training as a lawyer compelled me to comment. Canada's "motto" is "From Sea to Sea" or, in Latin, as found on the national coat of arms: "A mari usque ad mare". The catchy phrase "Peace, Order and Good Government (POGG) is found in the British North America Act, 1867 and is used to define the powers of the federal parliament in the context of the division of legislative powers between the federal and provincial levels of government. I won't dispute your comment that it has translated into a lot of government. It is ambiguous and difficult to apply (the kind of legislative language that litigating lawyers love!).

At the end of the day, you get my kudos for even being familiar with POGG. Most people would be more likely to identify the term with the kid's "milk cap" game from the '90's.

As to the issue that is the "pith and substance" (another constitutional law buzz phrase) of your post, I can only ask "When will the lunacy cease?"

Bryan Townsend said...

David, thank you for a well-deserved correction! I have been away from Canada for too long, obviously. Of course the motto is A mari usque ad mare! But I had forgotten where the phrase "peace, order and good government" came from. Wouldn't we just like to know when the lunacy will cease?