My Letter to the CBC Executives

Last night, I wrote my own let­ter to the CBC address­es men­tioned in the pre­vi­ous post. Rather than make this about my pref­er­ences, or love of Clas­si­cal Music, I want­ed this to be more about the iden­ti­ty of CBC as it relates to Cana­da, and how it could help to make this a bet­ter coun­try, and how the changes they are propos­ing (and I want­ed to make sure I kept it as a pro­pos­al, giv­ing them the option to do as Coke did when it brought out New Coke, grace­ful­ly back out ) are hurt­ing the coun­try. Here’s how it came out:

Dear Mr. Sturs­berg,

I write to you as a new and proud Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent of Cana­da.  My wife and I moved to Van­cou­ver from Boston in 2005. We had fall­en in love with Van­cou­ver, one of the most admired and beau­ti­ful cities in the world, and we chose to live here, part­ly because of the phys­i­cal envi­ron­ment,  but also because of the excit­ing and authen­tic cul­tur­al life here.  I’ve been con­tin­u­al­ly impressed and encour­aged by the kind­ness, intel­li­gence, and thought­ful­ness of my new coun­try.

Until today.

Today, I find myself writ­ing you with great shock and hor­ror about the deci­sions regard­ing both the removal of Clas­si­cal Music from CBC Radio 2 and the dis­band­ing of the 70-year old cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion and last of its kind in North Amer­i­ca, the CBC Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra. Mr. Sturs­berg, these deci­sions are wrong, and do untold dam­age to both the peo­ple of Cana­da and the coun­try which I now call my home.

Clas­si­cal Music — which is, I believe,  a ridicu­lous name, sug­gest­ing stuffy con­cert halls and audi­ences of dod­der­ing old fogies who want the same old chest­nuts of Beethoven and Brahms played back to them over and over — is not ‘just anoth­er kind of music’.   It is the kind of music — let’s call it ‘Art Music’ — that makes you think, that is com­plex and chal­leng­ing. It is not always a ‘song’, with vocal part. It is some­times for ensem­bles oth­er than ‘bands. It is not 4 min­utes in length, and may have com­plex har­monies and rhythms, with no part for a drum­mer. That kind of music, that breaks out of the mould of the mun­dane, the pre-digest­ed and dis­pos­able, is pre­cise­ly the kind of thing that Canada’s air­waves should con­tin­ue to offer. It’s music (and Cana­di­an per­form­ers) that deserves to be in the lives of the peo­ple who live here,

The musi­cal life of Van­cou­ver is par­tic­u­lar­ly evis­cer­at­ed by the changes pro­posed.  If Art Music on CBC 2 and the orches­tra are gone, there will be noth­ing to take it’s place here. Unlike Toron­to or Mon­tréal, there are no com­mer­cial radio sta­tions that car­ry Art Music here.  The dis­band­ing of a major orches­tra sit­u­at­ed here, on top of silenc­ing of Art Music from our air­waves is a dou­ble-blow to the cul­tur­al life of this world-class city, so poised on great­ness as we pre­pare to host the world for the 2010 Olympics.  Should our radio be a bland pur­vey­or of pop cul­ture, while we now pre­tend to be a major play­er on the world’s stage?

Art Music (or, if you insist on call­ing it Clas­si­cal Music), is some­thing the chil­dren of Van­cou­ver should be able to get with­out hav­ing to pay a tick­et to see the sym­pho­ny. It should not be an elit­ist, snob­by treat that is only for the rich, who can afford the steep cost of tick­ets.  They should have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear it at no cost. Chal­leng­ing cul­tur­al expe­ri­ences, like Art Music, that enrich our lives and minds, like Edu­ca­tion and Health Care, should be a right of every Cana­di­an, and cer­tain­ly not just the ones liv­ing in the largest cities (and Van­cou­ver as well!) I believe that we are a bet­ter peo­ple with a shared cul­tur­al her­itage. Yes, there is oth­er music brought by oth­er cul­tures in this coun­try, but we all ben­e­fit from a radio chan­nel,  at least, just 1 radio chan­nel, that car­ries some of the great­est music ever writ­ten, and more than just a token 3 hours at mid-day, when chil­dren are in school, and work­ers are at work. In a tru­ly great coun­try, great art isn’t a priv­i­lege; it is for every­one, and should­n’t require them to fork over some cash just to be exposed or intro­duced to it.

The CBC already has a chan­nel ded­i­cat­ed to pop­u­lar music:  Radio 3. Please, main­tain that chan­nel, and put all of your cre­ative think­ing into it.  But this mis­guid­ed, focus-group dri­ven destruc­tion of some of Canada’s great­est cul­tur­al resources should halt­ed. It’s a tragedy that can be avert­ed, if you sim­ply lis­ten to the hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who I know are writ­ing you at this very moment, just like this new Cana­di­an.  They, and I, have the con­fi­dence in you as thought­ful and vision­ary lead­ers, to stop this dis­as­ter from hit­ting our lives in Cana­da.

Yours Sin­cere­ly,

David Druck­er

I’m not thrilled about that last sen­tence, but I have to admit that many who have com­ment­ed on this state of affairs have called it a dis­as­ter, or a cat­a­stro­phy, so I sup­pose those terms were ring­ing in my ears as I wrote it.

I did­n’t want this let­ter to be an angry mis­sive demand­ing their res­ig­na­tion. Some­how, that seems very un-Cana­di­an. This is a coun­try where peo­ple think twice before hit­ting a stranger (unless, of course, it’s in a hock­ey rink). I want­ed to offer these peo­ple a rea­son why the noble thing, the wise thing, and the thing they’d be ulti­mate­ly applaud­ed for, would be to reverse their pre­vi­ous deci­sion. I’d like to think that they’ll read it, but maybe I’m being too ide­al­is­tic. In any case, tomor­row is the march on the CBC offices in Van­cou­ver. We’ll meet at the Rob­son side of the Pub­lic Library at 10AM.  I’ll write about that tomor­row night.

Curi­ous­ly, tomor­row is also the day of Mas­sive Tech Expo, the event where I found my first job (and place to live) before we moved here, so I have a lot of good mem­o­ries (and per­haps, expec­ta­tions) regard­ing the day. Let’s hope the Mas­sive mojo is still at work.