Thursday, September 25, 2008

ACTRA challenges parties to stop the cuts and stand up for Canadian culture

September 24, 2008 - TORONTO - Canada's top film and television actors gathered for an ACTRA press conference condemning cuts to arts funding and attempts to censor film and TV productions. Performers called on political leaders to start taking Canada's cultural industry seriously. The arts contribute $85 billion dollars and one million jobs to the Canadian economy each year.

"Our culture and our jobs are under attack by a government that wants to cut arts funding, censor our work and allow increased foreign ownership," said actor Wendy Crewson. "Culture is critical to our identity as a country and is a huge part of our economy. These policies are job killers and artists will not stand by and allow these attacks on our industry to continue without a fight."

Actors spoke out against the Conservative government's $50 million in cuts to arts programs and its attempts to censor films with Bill C-10, as well as the need to tell more Canadian stories on-screen - issues that have galvanized artists across the country. The actors also drew attention to the alarming potential for foreign ownership of Canada's media industry in light of Prime Minister Harper's recent announcement that a Conservative government would relax foreign-ownership rules.

"Our cultural identity is being allowed to slip away. We are challenging leaders to demonstrate that they recognize the critical contribution that culture makes to our lives," said actor Colm Feore. "We're also asking Canadians to look at what the parties are saying about the arts and vote for candidates who will protect our culture and speak up for artists - not silence us."

ACTRA members spoke out against 20 years of governments' allowing arts issues to fall by the wayside. ACTRA has issued a questionnaire to each political party asking parties to specify their commitments and will publish the results in early October. They called on parties to follow through on their promises about arts and culture if they are elected.

"We're running out of time: we need a government that will stand behind artists and make protecting Canada's unique culture a priority." said Feore.

Actors participating in the press conference included: Charlotte Arnold (Naturally Sadie), Chris Bolton (Rent-A-Goalie), Raoul Bhaneja (The Dresden Files), Martha Burns (Slings & Arrows), Catherine Disher (The Border), Jayne Eastwood (Billable Hours), Art Hindle (M.V.P.), Richard Hardacre (ACTRA National President), Tabby Johnson (The Sentinel), Maria Del Mar (Terminal City), Miriam McDonald (Degrassi), Gordon Pinsent(Away from Her), Leah Pinsent(Made in Canada), Chris Potter (Heartland), Karl Pruner (ACTRA Toronto President), Wayne Robson (The Red Green Show), Michael Seater (Life with Derek), Alberta Watson (The Border), and Maurice Dean Wint (ReGenesis).

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada - the foundation of Canada's highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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