As I noted in my previous post, Harry Belafonte was the host for Saturday night’s opera gala. At one point, he went off script to talk about the importance of the Arts. An NAC staff member transcribed what he said, and I thought I’d share it:
“Forgive me if I make an observation, no intent to be scolding or critical but I feel compelled to say it: Art is really the gatekeeper, the protector, the truth that tells us about who you are, who we are, and where we would hope to be able to go. As an honourary Canadian citizen, I was saddened when I saw that budgetary reasons and constraints on spending found its way so vigorously in denying the necessary resources to keep the music programmes in the schools of Canada alive and healthy.
It is through culture, it is through art that our humanities are constantly being tapped into. Although we must be careful and mindful of economic needs and growth, we must also be extremely careful in what we do with the soul of a nation and the spirit of its people. And through music and art, the best that is in you is expressed. And so I will tell you that you are blessed with tremendous musical talent in this city and in this country and I would recommend that you citizens do all you can do to support it, to nurture it, to enjoy it and to share it with others. You will never be sorry you did.
Music bridges cultural and linguistic divides. It crosses borders and makes new friends. Music can play an important role in building a better life for people everywhere.
Cultural diplomacy presents opportunities to create good will and better understanding among people and nations. That’s why it is so important that the National Arts Centre Orchestra – Canada’s orchestra – continues its tours at home and abroad.”
I wish I could have written that…