Tonight the Polaris Prize, the “$20,000 prize for a full length Canadian album, judged solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre or record sales” will be awarded, and both the timing and the artist lineup are delicious (if unintended).
One of the bands whose artistic merit is being judged this evening is Holy Fuck, the Toronto electronica/prog/rock/whatever group which became a reluctant cause celebre when the Conservatives cited them in August as being the kind of cultural export that proper Canadians didn’t support. The fact that Holy Fuck was nominated for a Juno Award for their debut LP, titled simply “LP”, was apparently not relevant, nor was the critical praise the group receives for their improvisational live performances, or the international audiences that buy their records. Many of the other nominees are in the same boat, benefiting either from CanCon rules, federal and provincial arts funding bodies, and cultural export and travel grants, or some combination of all of the above.
The funding cuts to arts and culture that the Conservative government introduced just before the election have raised a lot of hackles, both within the arts and culture workforce and far beyond. With two weeks to go until the election, the Polaris Prize presentation tonight is going to be a politicized event no matter what. I’ll be interested to see how the judges, presenters, and nominees choose to engage the issue when they get up to that microphone tonight.
Click over the jump to hear Holy Fuck’s song “Super Inuit”.