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Support letter

I found the information session you presented at the Open Ears festival in Kitchener last May quite interesting, and would like to make a somewhat belated follow-up in some reactions to the reports you presented. In the meantime, I have spent several weeks in Frrance the the U.K. talking with a wide range of others involved in the field and I think some of their reactions are pertinent.

First of all, let me give my unqualified support for the proposals found in Normandeau's report about giving the CEC funding again, and for setting up some kind of parallel funding/commissioning scheme for what might be called Electronic Arts projects.

However, I fear that the question of CEC funding may have already been decided, as I have heard a rumour that it is not going ahead. What is most disturbing is that the alleged reason was the old bureaucratic dodge that "you can't give to one without giving to all".

If this is the case, or some variant, please reconsider! This strategy reduces everyone to the least common denominator and ignores what all of your and my informants have reported, namely that - based on purely volunteer labour and a great deal of imagination - the CEC has done the best job of serving the vibrant (i.e. mainly younger) community involved with technology and the arts. Their profile is both national and international .. and just to put it into some perspective, let me tell you of some of my experiences abroad in the last month. An electroacoustic composer/radio producer from the Netherlands is telling me - somewhat apologetically - that the studio/organization he heads up is just a "small" one as it gets "only" $100,000 (as opposed to the major Dutch institution, STEIM, that receives maybe 10 times that amount of government subsidy. My jaw drops as I report that no studio or organization in Canada gets anywhere near that kind of "small" support. But, he retorts, what about the CEC and all of the amazing work it does? Now it's his jaw that's dropping as I inform him that the CEC has received no government money at all over the last few years! And on the story goes as similar anecdotes are repeated with people from various countries

To not reward effort and innovation in this field is to: (1) risk burnout from the people who have made it happen - the feeling that no one cares, even when money is not as tight - and inevitably their priorities will take them away from such efforts; (2) lose an entire generation - and I'm not exaggerating here because we're mainly talking about a younger generation - who will inevitably succumb to various extents to the enticements of "commercial culture" which is all too willing to fill the vacuum left by a lack of public support for culture.

Believe me, this is not a self-serving argument. I have made my career already, largely through support from abroad at a time when it was easier to travel and make those contacts. And things are not going to change that much for our instrumental colleagues who already have an established relationship, even if contested, with the pillars of culture in this country (the orchestras, CBC, new music groups and so on). The younger generation of electroacoustic composer/artists see themselves as outside those circles, and the CEC is in the best position to service the incredibly wide range of interests found in these people - and to give them an alternative support network from the commercial one.

Thank you for reading this far. I hope the rumours I have heard are not correct, and that you will have the courage to give some leadership in this field, particularly at this critical moment when I believe you have the opportunity to do so. I really hate to think what will happen if you do not.... I would much rather stay optimistic about the incredible potential that could be actualized with even a "small" amount of support (by my European colleagues' standards - but then, they live in a society that really values culture).

With appreciation for all of your efforts,

Barry Truax Simon Fraser University

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