As Canadians we are often guilty of not celebrating our own actors, musicians, writer’s, painters, filmmakers and many others. One reason for this is American popular culture, which certainly has easy access to our minds and hearts and most notably to Canadian children. Some of it is great, we have to admit, but the commercial junk, false and repetitive advertising, sexual morays, unnecessary violent images, extreme political ideologies, religious temperament, nationalistic zeal, economic policies, and selective world view can have an effect on how we view ourselves as Canadians with our own set of values.
It also affects how we view our neighbors and the rest of the world. We can be transfixed, totally turned off or have a harder time being selective and knowing who we are and how we are actually different from the Americans.
One difference, and this might be a generalization, is American style win-or-lose success as compared to Canadian, happy to make a living success. We creative types often wonder if anything we do has influence or really matters in Canada because we don’t see much of our peers in the media. We can develop an inferiority complex with the Americans and envy anyone in Canada who obtains some success without understanding what kind of luck, hard work, or change and sacrifice is involved. This actually makes it more important for artists to talk about what they do and what it took to become an artist. A realistic understanding can go a long way.
Many artists shut down after a few setbacks because they see so many examples of overnight success on TV. Our own expectations of others and of ourselves can be too high. And we don’t know at what point we’re supposed to be happy with our accomplishments, because we often judge by other people’s success stories that are unrealistic .
A lot of this has to do with understanding the circle of influence an artist might want and need to have. Setting realistic goals helps, and understanding that any excess success is a bonus.
So we have two sets of problems, one for artists and one for their potential supporters that can both be met with a little effort by thinking in terms of circles of influence.
For the creative types the question is: contributing to what circle would make you happy? Friends and family? Your school? Your church? Your neighbourhood? The City? The region? The province? The country? The world?
For all of us who are fans of anyone in the arts, or sports, politics, science, etc., there is a question of who we could celebrate. Of any group there are individuals worthy of attention. Can you list ten examples that are your international favourites? Ten of your country? Ten of your province? Ten of the region? Ten locally?
Because of the mega-influence from the U.S., it can be harder to make a list of local talent. A few months ago the Walleye Magazine did a listing of various local artists. It was inspiring. There is a lot of talent in the city and surrounding area.
Making your own lists, sharing your knowledge with friends and adding to the list by getting out there would go a long way to support local artists of all stripes. I’m trying to take my own advice and get out more often. See you at Summer in the Parks, Wednesday nights. That’s a start.