Leaders of major arts organizations throughout the province — along with a number of musicians and members of the public — gathered in St. John’s this morning to discuss local implications of CBC budget cuts.
As a result of the cuts, the public broadcaster has decided to decommission its mobile unit and St. John’s recording studio — its two primary means by which to record and broadcast live music and literary arts performances in the province.
"Today is the day we come together, hopefully vocally, in one very strong voice to make all artists and the general public aware of the ramifications of the cutbacks to the CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, and to say in one voice that we will not be silenced and we will strongly urge the reinstatement of these priceless resources,” said David Chafe, President of MusicNL, and organizer of the conference.
“Just as in the commerce world, a business needs customers to survive and pay the bills — artists do as well. The removal of the CBC mobile unit and the closure of Studio F, and the sell off of the recording equipment, is the equivalent of destroying a bridge between our artists and our customers, our audience. Not to mention it’s a blatant dismantling of the CBC’s own mandate to share and preserve regional arts and culture.”
About 100 people had gathered at Memorial University’s D.F. Cook Recital hall for the morning event. Chafe and about a dozen other industry professionals, including musicians, festival organizers and association chairs, shared their stories and perspectives — all of which centred around the artistic community’s dependency on the CBC as the vehicle through which to share Newfoundland and Labrador’s artistic and cultural essence with the rest of the nation and the world.
Chafe noted the loss of the mobile unit and Studio F will reduce the number of live music recordings for the coming year by more than three-quarters, meaning there likely will be no more than 10 live performances recorded by the CBC in this province this year. Nationally, only one or two performances, if any, will be heard by national programming.
Last year, there were approximately 50 live music recordings for broadcast across the province on CBC Radio. About 10 of these were picked up by national radio programming. And all live music recordings from this province are available to the global audience online.
A news release notes that countless artists’ careers have been launched by CBC-NL's broadcasts of their performances in all sorts of venues and festivals. Likewise, many music festivals held throughout the province have received national and international acclaim and have drawn visitors from abroad because of CBC's capacity to drive to any venue and deliver the highest-quality, professionally produced performances.
Chafe said emerging artists who deserve and would depend on such valuable exposure will especially feel the loss of CBC's technical live music recording capacity.
“Newfoundland and Labrador artists from all walks are the most honest, hardest working, intelligent, creative, thoughtful, mutually supportive, selfless workers of any industry, engaged everyday of their lives in a labour of love for the benefit of our culture, our economy and our wonderful audiences,” he said.