Sun News TV host Krista Erickson took to the air yesterday and complained of being bullied by the arts community following her heated interview with internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer, Margie Gillis.
Erickson also said she believed the arts community bullies Conservative politicians into funding artistic projects that they do not believe in—showing a complete lack of understanding of the workings of the arm’s-length Canada Council for the Arts.
The comments came during a segment in which the host, aided by acting national director of the Canadian Taxpayers Association Derek Fildebrandt, picked a winner for the “Sunnies” award—the news network’s answer to the Governor General’s Arts Awards.
The winner of the Sunnies, selected by Fildebrandt and Erickson, was a viewer who sent in a video mocking Gillis’s dancing, in which he waved his arms around while wearing a pair of yellow oven mitts.
During the course of the segment, the following exchange between Erickson and Fildebrandt took place:
Krista Erickson: ...Craig Williams, you know him as oven mitts, friends. So this is his interpretation of the Margie Gillis interpretive dance. She is of course, the iconic interpretive dancer, there she is, who we had a very combative interview with. She is the recipient of $1.2 million in grants from the taxpayers over the last 13 years to subsidize this interpretive dance work that she does, as well as her school of dance.
Derek Fildebrandt: Oh, but she needs more, Krista.
KE: Well, whatever you do don’t ask her to justify the $1.2 million in taxpayers’ money that she has received, because you—
DF: That was good TV.
KE: Well, thank you my friend, but it comes with some consequence, and that is you will face the wrath of the arts community. Since that interview I have been inundated with hundreds of emails, phone calls, extremely hostile, threatening, calling me four-letter words that I cannot repeat. And they come from around the world. I’m hearing from people with the Julliard School of Dance. So there you go, I’m delighted to hear that the Julliard School of Dance is watching the Sun News Network, I didn’t even know they could get a signal there.
At the end of the segment, the following exchange also took place:
KE: What have you learned on our journey of enlightenment here on funding to the arts?
DF: I’ve learned you don’t want to be Krista Erickson if you’re taking on the art subsidy community. You know, this is an issue that actually gets people really heated up on both sides, but it’s not a discussion that we’ve really had adequately in Canada. It’s kind of boiled up here and there, but we haven’t had a sustained discussion about this. Sun has done a great job in focusing discussion on an important issue. We’re facing a massive deficit right now that is structural and we need to cut. And one of the very juiciest parts of the budget to be cutting is subsidies to any form of business, that includes the arts. So, you know, hats off to Sun for really shining the light on this.
KE: Well, we appreciate that. And I do want to share with you, I guess, my most salient point in terms of my observations and what I’ve learned from this journey of enlightenment, and I hearken back to something that you said to me at the very outset of our coverage on this issue. I said to you, you know, we know how a lot of Conservatives feel about funding to the arts. And not all the arts, but some things for instance, abstract art that is not mainstream, that is not commercially viable and so on. Why do they do it if they don’t believe in it?
And you said to me, “Krista, because they are bullied into funding it.” And you know something? I actually, I really believe that that is the case. Because I have now been the subject of that bullying, just for asking the questions, "Why do you deserve $1.2 million in taxpayers’ money?" And now I’m being mercilessly bullied, and so I mean, your analysis is bang on. Why are politicians doing this when they don’t believe in a lot of it? It’s because they’re facing the same bullying I have faced over the last two weeks and it’s just not worth it to raise the ire of these folks.