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[Brief to the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences]*
To The Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts,
We of the Vancouver Branch of the Canadian Authors
For years we Canadians have been flooded with American moving pictures, American radio programs, American magazines, American books. Something should be done before the Canadian viewpoint is lost entirely. We have become unsure of anything Canadian in concept, just because it is Canadian and therefore unheralded and unknown.
The Canadian market for writers pays much less than the American market. This results in the best material being sent out of Canada to the United States, leaving only second grade material for Canadian consumption. At the same time, editors, while refusing to buy Canadian material, will purchase second grade American material for their publications. An editorial comment in a recent Canadian publication says, "Any Canadian writer who is worth his salt sells his material in the United States. Those who can't make the grade in the States hope to place their fiction with Canadian magazines. Most of it is pretty inferior stuff." This attitude is one of the reasons why so many Canadians leave Canada every year to seek fortunes elsewhere.
Canadian writers, as personalities, are almost unknown to most of the Canadian population. There can be no real interest in a person's works when that person is less than a shadow.
The best in Canadian letters is frequently buried or lost in the scuffle of making a living. Because there is no financial assistance in any way for struggling writers, quite often brilliant minds and great talent are lost to the world of literature and to our country, through the need for daily bread.
As a result of these facts, we believe there are two major tasks for the Commission to perform:
(1) Sell Canada to the Canadians. Every Canadian wants to be proud of his nationality, but at present it is a nebulous thing. Radio, screen and publications should be employed to tell about our wonderful country, our history, our heritage. If this one job is done thoroughly, we feel that many of the existing ills will cease to be. Soon Canadian writings will be demanded and proper recognition and remuneration will fall into place behind.
(2) Since this educational program will take time, something should be done to assist writers now. We would suggest the immediate establishment of funds for scholarships, subsidies, loans and worthwhile prizes, as much needed encouragement for those working toward a truly Canadian literature.
When the demand is created for more and better Canadian literature, we believe the ability to produce it will manifest itself.
To this end we hope that some type of educational program may be formulated which will not only bring to our citizens a new awareness of Canada with all its glorious facets, but awaken adults, as well as students, to a greater appreciation of all the Arts.
* From: Canadian Authors Association. Vancouver Branch. [Brief to the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences]. Vancouver : s.n., 1949. 2 leaves. By permission of the Privy Council Office.