An artist who blames the feds for kiboshing her tour is trying to take her art to Ottawa instead – to display it somewhere Prime Minister Stephen Harper can’t miss it.
If Franke James succeeds, “Dear Mr. Prime Minister, stop blacklisting environmental artists and scientists,” is the message Stephen Harper will see on a billboard in Ottawa.
James was set to show her art, which condemns the environmental effects of tarsands development, on a 20-country tour in Europe and Asia. The tour was organized by Nektarina, a Croatian non-profit group and funded by two private backers. But after Nektarina contacted Canada’s embassy in Croatia a few months ago it all fell apart.
On its blog, Nektarina said its request for $5,000 funding was denied by a Canadian Embassy official who said, “She (Franke James) speaks against the Canadian government.” The group was “patronized and even intimidated” in its dealings with the Canadian government, the post said.
James claims her tour was intentionally torpedoed and said she personally believes the government put behind-the-scenes pressure on her backers to withdraw their support.
“When that happened, I decided that what I’d like to do is put a message on billboards and bus shelters in Ottawa,” said James.
She turned to LoudSauce, a group that raises money through social media to buy ad space for messages about civic responsibility.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said little about James’ complaints in response to media inquiries.
“Ultimately, Canadian missions did not fund this artist’s European tour,” department spokesperson Jean-François Lacelle said in an email to the Toronto Star.
WITH FILES FROM Torstar News Service