by BRANDON MOORE
We have to be careful about how we use the language of economics when we talk about the arts. Too often, that kind of language treats art as a commodity to be exchanged in a marketplace, and that makes it easy to dismiss anything outside of the mainstream.
The challenge for me is that such language is more than just pervasive, it has become fundamental in how we communicate today. Fighting that feels pointless (although I admire anyone who succeeds.) I have to settle for the next best thing and reclaim that language. And with that in mind: I donate to Buddies in Bad Times Theatre because of the artistic return-on-investment.
Last year, like many of you, I read with surprise the news that Buddies’ Rhubarb Festival was rejected for funding from the Canadian Heritage “Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program.” As I read the responses from artists, testifying to the impact of Rhubarb and Buddies in their lives, I wondered to myself—How is this NOT building an inclusive community? How is this NOT an important investment? Signing a petition in protest is important, but it didn’t feel like enough. If our Federal government wasn’t going to support this vital community-building work, then I needed to make a financial contribution. And so I made a donation to Buddies for the first time.
I know I’m removed from the experience of being a queer artist—aside from the economic class that comes with being an arts worker, I check off every other box on the list of straight, white, able-bodied, male privilege. I relate to Buddies first as a member of the theatre community.
I think of the shows I’ve seen at Buddies—how often I’ve been moved and challenged by what I experienced. I think of the commitment to produce work that is provocative—how frequently less-courageous audience members will have stayed away. I think of the artists for whom Buddies was the safe space in their own creative journey where they could take risks and experiment—how rich is that legacy of theatre creation today. This is what an inclusive community looks like.
Every year I set aside some money in my own budget for “theatre causes” to support projects by artists and organizations in whom I’ve come to believe. More than anything, I respond to dedication and fearlessness—to artistic integrity.
Our budgets are moral documents. How we use our money says a lot about what we believe. I give to theatres like Buddies because of the artistic integrity I see both on its stages, and in the lives of artists and audiences touched by it.