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Woodcock, George.

Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre, c1985. 207pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-88894456-X. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Strange Bedfellows, the disturbing examination of the history of public sup- port for the arts in Canada, should be required reading for all those of us who profit, usually thoughtlessly, by the efforts and creativity of the artistic community. The difficulties faced by those committed to the insecure life of the artist, and the sacrifices routinely expected of them, would astonish and outrage any other productive group in Canada. Indeed, as the author points out, Canadian artists are as a class "the poorest people in the country except for old age pensioners and native people living on reservations (sic)."

Woodcock discusses the roles of the Canada Council and the various provincial arts councils giving them full credit for the important work they do, but points out as well the difficulties and shortfalls of the grants systems. He addresses the tax problems specific to the artist, using the well-reported and sensational Toni Onley case of 1983 as an extreme example.

Something must be done, if the Canadian artist's standard of living is to be raised above that of mere subistence. Woodcock examines the possibilities of Public Lending Rights, by which the artist would receive some compensation for use of one purchased work by many borrowers, tax breaks, and a "droit de suit" system for sharing the resale price of an art object with the artist. His is an angry but reasoned plea for justice for some of Canada's most valuable yet paradoxically undervalued citizens.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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