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Culture and the Arts

by Valerie Guillaume


Culture is something, that is very much taken for granted these days, and if you should ask some people, they will also, say, that they are also very a part of their culture, or has contributed to it, in some way or other. Which may also be a matter of conjecture, in some cases and should, also, in my opinion, be viewed objectively. What I have actually observed, in fact, is, that most people are involved, in the dominant culture and that those of their individual communities, are often ignored or rejected, as a result of this.

But recognizing and showing respect for one’s culture, though, is also one way of preserving it. It is also about becoming an active part of it, consciously, by also contributing, to its development, directly and possibly, also, its longevity as well. And this, of course, is also the direct role, that both arts and culture, has played in our society today. It is about the preservation of those things in our society, which has also, at the same time, the ability to also elevate us, from being mediocre to being civilized. Art in my opinion must also be enjoyable.

Although art can be an individual expression for some people, it can and should also be viewed, as the collective effort, on the part of the artists, of representing their communities, culture, and the world around them. For most artists, anyway, they are also able to take on the role of representative, of their individual communities, or culture, through their arts and in this way, also, their art can also be viewed not only as an individual expression, but also as a medium through which an entire community or culture is also recognized.
Art, whether it is being being produced individually, or collectively, through the efforts of those within those cultures, whose artistic ability has also served the dual purposes, of both individual expression and also to enliven their communities, can also be defined, in as many ways, as there are also people to express them.

Both arts and culture within the Canadian context, can also be difficult to define, for most people, using those terms exclusively, because it is not just any one thing, but many things, in fact. It is in reality, an admixture of the many different cultures that has also co-exists, that has, also, in some ways, blended together, so that it cannot, also, be purely defined as being of any one particular expression, or representing any one particular group or community. It has seemed to have also absorbed, some of the other cultures around it, though It has also managed to remained distinctive, in its own way, which I believed, is also inherent and also necessary to its survival.

All across the country, whether in Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver, the expression of arts and culture, in our society, such as seen in some of these festivals, such as Caribana, which is both artistic and cultural at the same, with its distinctive African and Caribbean influence, mainly, or others like the Chinese New Year festival, or, I may even include here, also, the jazz festival, to name just a few are all individual forms of expression for those communities and has both an artistic as well as a cultural element about them. Art of course, it is not only limited to those kinds of events, it is also expressed in many other forms, including writing, dance, visual art and dance.

All of these has also left an undeniable mark, on both the people and also the society around them. Whether those works are modern and innovative, or more traditional, they are all representative of the different forms of expressions, that we as human beings, has also been able to communicate, with others, about ourselves, individually and also as a group, and which has also, generally, contributed to the betterment of society.
There are of course many institutions, that has also endeavoured to preserved the artistic contributions within our culture, that should also be mentioned here as well. These has not only helped the artists, individually, but has also helped to preserve and to protect their work as well. Perhaps because they have also realized that those works are also enduring and should both be preserved and protected.

The Canada Council for the Arts and The National Library of Canada, are only just just a few, of some of the many institutions, that has also helped to both preserved and also to protect, arts and culture in our society.
Foundations and private individuals also gives financially, to the preservation of arts and culture in our society and these also goes even further to maintain the specific cultural identity, of individual communities, for future generations to come, that may other wise have been lost. Both arts and culture, has always been one way, of ensuring the survival of a specific culture, for a very long time. For as long as there has been recorded history. As for arts and culture within the Canadian context, maybe the one thing (and the only thing), that anyone seem to really agree upon, is that it is really a kaleidoscope, of the many different cultures that already exist in this society. Each representing a different aspect of it and also contributing to it individually.
It is in fact, all of the above and none of the above. Perhaps that statement is not entirely correct either, because some cultures, more than others, has been used, if not improperly, to also defined both the Canadian arts and culture. The arts or culture of Canada's First Nations People, for example, has been used to only defined Canadian arts and culture, when this is not entirely correct. It could also be the fact that they have also included, much use of the Canadian topography, wildlife, animal totems, and dance in their arts, such as in their storytelling, dances or visual arts, that are also distinctively Canadian.

In my opinion, though, when it comes to mention of arts or culture, for that matter, it cannot be said, that any one group or community, has contributed the most to it, or can even define it exclusively either. Everyone has contributed in some degree to the artistic and cultural dimensions of what is considered as the Canadian culture. Whether these are new or much older contributions, they all go to make up the kaleidoscope of the Canadian culture through the arts and culture of this society.
Who can live without art or culture really? Most people would find this to be quite unthinkable, perhaps even boring and quite possible also even bereft of life itself. Art in a sense is a representation of life. There are expressions of art everywhere you look and in everything. Everyone is an artist or at least most people are to some degree. And we all have some form of expression that is representative of how we think and feel about ourselves and our environment.

Arts should also not be defined only in terms of culture either, because it can also be intensely personal. It should also not be defined as being either being good or bad. This is a matter of interpretation only, because art is anything that you want it to be and should also be interpreted exactly that way. Artists, as a general rule are also very individualizing about their artistic expressions, but they will also work for the general good of their own culture or society in general.
No artists are really bad or good. It is just a matter of interpretation when it comes to their work. They should also, in my opinion, be handsomely rewarded for their efforts, as most of them are already.
Culture and the arts in my opinion, are also cognizant with each other and of our society as well. They coexist together, in a harmonious way, usually, that is also best exemplified in how that is also interpreted by the rest of society.
When a society reaches that state, it is also considered to be the most civilized, because the arts, as well as culture, is what brings people together, in most instances and the sharing of this with others, also provides for a more unified society in general. This is because what is actually produced, when these two elements of arts and culture, has come together, are also often best seen, as also, bringing out the best that is in all of us, as human beings.


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Valerie Guillaume (Valerie Guillaume)
Toronto, Ontario
Member since November 2009

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