‘Artists need government support’ Art writer advocates rigorous measures to help senior artists By Mayank Bhatt Oakville, Jan 17: Art journalist Susan Walker has suggested that the federal government initiate economic measures such as tax breaks, healthcare and housing assistance to help artists in their retirement years. “You need a leg up – even Margaret Attwood will tell you that,” Walker emphasized, explaining the difficulties artist face. “Artists don’t get enough money or recognition,” she added.
Walker, a veteran art journalist, spoke to students of Canadian Journalism for Internationally Trained Writers program at the Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning’s Skills Training Centre, Oakville, Saturday.
When her attention was drawn to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s electioneering remarks that the common Canadian does not relate to art, and his government’s decision to cut $45 million of culture funding, Walker exclaimed: “It’s a big blunder in the long term.”
Walker said that as most artists are self employed, they lose out on benefits generally provided by employers. This is the reason for more government support to the artists.
The sexagenarian writer has worked for more than two decades at the Toronto Star as an art reporter, and also as the editor at Quill & Quire.
She drew attention to a comparative study of the economic status of artists in Sweden where, for instance, dancers get a government pension. “This is not available in Canada,” she noted.
She now freelances. Her latest report Improving with age – a report on the three senior artists was published in the Toronto Star on the day she spoke to the internationally trained writers.