Culture vultures get fed (but not by the feds)

Tara Thorne fills your stockings with arts news.

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That choral swell you’ll hear this week will be more than just people finding gaming consoles under their trees—try hundreds of Nova Scotia artists celebrating the creation of Culture Nova Scotia, an arm’s-length arts council privately funded by an anonymous coalition of Nova Scotia-bred artists who may or may not live here. Almost $2 million—close to double what was handed out annually by the Nova Scotia Arts Council until it was disbanded by John Hamm’s government in 2002—will be up for grabs in 2007. In a somewhat contro- versial move, preference will be given to works created outside the Celtic community, considered by CNS to be “well taken care of” by the province’s tartan-friendly Arts and Culture Partnership Council.

“It’s not an exclusion of Cape Breton,” emails a CNS representative, who would not reveal his or her identity. “I’m from Sydney! It’s about an inclusion of everyone else. Millions of tourism and culture dollars—and really, culture should be its own portfolio, don’t you think?—are spent promoting the traditional music and customs and history of Cape Breton, which is such a small part of this province. Our hope is that artists who are doing cool shit that the government funding agencies wouldn’t even consider, if they ‘got it’ in the first place, get a chance to develop their projects and at least attempt to make a living from doing art.”

Debate rages about who is part of the group—if there even is a group, and it’s not just the Fountains going indie. But if they are Nova Scotia artists, where the hell are they getting the money, exactly, and why remain anonymous in the first place? If you get a chance to flip the bird to government, you shouldn’t wear a mask while you’re doing it. (Rumoured members include Daniel MacIvor, Thom Fitzgerald, Sarah McLachlan and Garry Neill Kennedy.)

“We could give a million bucks to charity and hold a press conference to discuss us giving a million dollars to charity and you could write all about how generous and selfless we are, and then the story would be about us,” writes our tipster. “This way it’s about the artists.”

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for details about application requirements and deadlines.

House of rep (cinema)

We’re stepping on the “Shop Talk” beat here, but this concerns us, too. We hear that the building going up on the corner of Gottingen and Falkland—which has been a parking lot since a devastating fire a couple years back—will house (dun-da-da DA!) a single-screen repertory theatre, which this city has been without for a decade.

With the disappearance of Paradise Sisters Film Society and Empire Theatres’ refusal to turn the Oxford into a full-time rep, Halifax has been without even hope of a viable alternative to the multiplex for years. The to-be-named space will be modelled on the indie theatres found in Providence, Rhode Island and Austin, Texas—it’ll house an (independent) cafe, eventually sell booze (the licensing needs to be worked out) and charge less for a ticket than Park Lane, which has crept up to nine bucks from $7.95 in 2004.

The theatre is scheduled to open this summer, just in time for blockbuster season.

(Un)fit for the pit

After a barrage of bad programming decisions this year, the most idiotic being the cancellation of Street Cents, CBC-TV has announced a slate of Nova Scotia-based (and shot!) programming that will even air in prime time, not burned off on July afternoons like North/South.

Duke Street, an art-school sitcom, was shot at NSCAD—called Halifax College of the Arts here (pronounced “Ha-cah”)—and features a theme song, “Portfolio,” by City Field and The Just Barelys.

The Ceeb let international phenom Degrassi slip through its hands years ago. Now it’s trying to right that wrong with Pictou County, an ensemble drama about small-town kids and the hockey rink they play in/work at/hang out in back of.

The Hill is a purportedly gritty drama about Citadel Hill and its goings-on after sunset. The city announces a crackdown on all prostitution, and veteran cop Peter MacDonald (Nicolas Campbell), a gruff homophobe in the Sipowicz vein, is assigned to the Citadel beat.

All three shows begin airing the week of January 21. A two-part Sidney Crosby biopic, with Sid yet to be cast, starts shooting April 1.

Did you enjoy the fiction issue? email: tarat@thecoast.ca

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