• I was so appalled at an article I read in the Toronto Sun that I just had to respond to the writer and editor:

    Here is my letter in response:

    Mr. Levant:

    You'll be pleased to learn "Time to Cut Public Funding for So-Called Musicians" has reached far beyond your local publication all the way to Western Canada. After reading your obtuse and indelicate opinions, I feel compelled to illuminate a few errors and oversights.

    You need not know much about me. However, I will tell you this: the industry you describe is that which consumes my life. I live and breathe those issues you flippantly write about. As a musician, I have been a recipient of praise, criticism and financial support, yet, unlike some, I do not claim to know everything nor do I place judgment on the issue of subjective taste. However, board members of groups such as FACTOR can and should place judgment. They are knowledgeable on both the art and business aspects of the music industry. I know. I have met several of them. Many are even musicians themselves. What instrument do you play, Mr. Levant?

    When I read your comment "the best don't need subsidies" I was stunned on two levels. I angrily tore through my CDs, pulling out all the Canadian artists and found in the liner notes that over 70% had in some way been supported by some form of Canadian Government. This includes some of Canada's best known artists such as Sam Roberts and Feist. Your shocking second mistake was referring to Living With Lions as "a bunch of losers" assuming that Canadians reject their music "simply because it's not any good." Quick research into their Facebook fan page pits them with more followers than Juno Award winner Hawksley Workman and Polaris Prize Nominee Two Hours Traffic, among others. If your measure of success is "fan support" as suggested, then you sorely underestimated this band and probably many other artists you've encountered. Personally I am not a fan of Living With Lions and agree their liner notes and album title are inappropriate. Then again, I don't think I am the demographic they wish to appeal to and the very notion of punk is against the close-mindedness of your stance on art. Regardless, your logic is unfounded.

    I couldn't list all the amazing artists that have received government financial support. Practically the entire Renaissance was funded by the religious state and political dynasty. This leads me to point out that certain works of Michelangelo, Voltaire, Stravinsky and countless others were once considered controversial, obscene, religiously offensive and often banned. Many of these works are now taught in schools and many are considered classics. It is the position of art to push the barriers of our society and make us question right and wrong. It is the role of government to provide for it's people, be it essential services or the comfort and education of art.

    I never thought I would have to address a Canadian journalist on the values of free and supported art in society. Yet, I somewhat relish the fact your article exists because a mere few hours after it's publication I have seen a massive community rise up in opinion against you. I score a point for the arts. For that, I thank you.

    Matt Blais

    Calgary, Alberta