Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Everyone should just shut up about Adrienne Clarkson and her “$1 million” trip to Russia, Finland and Iceland. It’s because she’s promoting culture, isn’t it? If she was out surveying a new oil pipeline, would the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation piss and moan so much?

The new Unrestrained! is out, so I’ll plug away. I’ve got a few things in it, including a review of In Harmonia Universali by Norwegian duo Solefald. They recently got a grant to travel to Iceland too. They took in some Viking re-enactments and wrote some music for their next album during their visit. Great. Can’t wait to hear it.

I know nothing about Norway except what I’ve gleaned through its musicians, who are an exceptionally articulate, creative, passionate and occasionally pyromaniacal lot. Norway must be a fine country to produce all these internationally recognized artists from such a small population. Cultural exports make for great PR.

“Ah-ha,” says the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation. “It didn’t take a million-dollar boondoggle/junket to make you aware of Norway’s culture. That was the free market’s doing.”

Yes, but wait. From what I understand, a lot of Scandinavian musicians get their start at government funded youth centres, which provide band rooms and instruments for kids who need a hobby. Dozens of bands with international distribution began this way. If a country provides the infrastructure, maybe the rest takes care of itself.

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