Hollywood Celebs In Canadian Arts Funding Battle

12:52 PM PST 06/30/2011 by Etan Vlessing
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DGA

Canadian media erupts over $500,000 in taxpayer coin for Canada's Walk of Fame Festival to celebrate homegrown celebs like that made it in Hollywood, alongside emerging artists.

TORONTO -- Suddenly, it’s open season on Canadian celebrities that strap on the government-funding nosebag.

The Globe and Mail newspaper on Thursday railed against Canada’s Walk of Fame – a local version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame – for receiving $500,000 in taxpayer coin as it puts Canadian celebrity names on a Toronto sidewalk. 

“…it’s half a million bucks of taxpayer money that is not going to nourish the true artists of the future,” wrote columnist John Doyle of Canadian stars in Hollywood like Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, Howie Mandel, James Cameron and Keifer Sutherland, all of whom have their names on a Toronto sidewalk.

“It goes to the shindig, this consecration of a worse-than-motley crew of flibbertigibbets, the already famous and long since left for Hollywood. Canada’s Walk of Shame,” Doyle added.

Canada’s Walk of Fame president Peter Soumalias said the $500,000 in government money was not for sidewalk monuments, but instead will support a Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival in Toronto to feature ticketed and free public performances by established and emerging Canadian artists.

“Historically, Canadians have not done a good job of celebrating our success, and the reality is Canadians are ready to celebrate our accomplishments,” Soumalias argued.

Elsewhere, the country’s TV censor earlier this week asked Canadians to stop flooding it with written complaints over a recent ambush interview by Sun News Network host Krista Erickson with iconic Canadian dancer Margie Gillis.

During the TV encounter, Erickson challenged Gillis to explain why she and her dance company received $1.2 million in taxpayer subsidies over a dozen years, and why Canadian artists needed public funding at all.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council requires one complaint to judge whether a domestic TV program has breached industry standards.

Erickson’s interview on Sun News Network, dubbed Fox News North by its critics, received over 4300 written complaints, more than double what the agency receives all year.

Most viewer complaints received by the CBSC focused on Erikson’s aggressive and offending interview style, rather than debating whether government arts support and funding is essential or unnecessary.

But the media furore also spotlighted another periodic inferiority complex among Canadians over homegrown entertainers like Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber that try their luck in Hollywood, find success and rarely if ever return home. 

Canadian arts supporters also underlined the irony of the federal government giving Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival $500,000 in the same week it pulled its funding for a rival SummerWorks festival because it presented a stage play about a terrorist group.

The message seems pretty clear: toe the line or expect to lose your funding. The Walk of Fame Fest is about as innocuous as they come: a four-day music celebration featuring such ground-shaking artists as - wait for it - Paul Anka,” arts blogger Charles Mandel wrote on the Herenb.canadaeast.com website.

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