Culture Days is a celebration of over 7,000 events/activities in over 800 cities and towns across Canada September 28-30. In anticipation of the festival, organizers asked prominent Canadians to talk about culture and its meaning. Award-winning host and co-creator of CBC radio program Q, Jian Ghomeshi, had the following to say:
WHAT DOES THE TERM "CULTURE" MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY, HOW DO YOU DEFINE IT?
I think the word "culture" needs to be stretched as wide as it can without causing injury. Given that culture pervades almost every part of our lives, we do ourselves and our communities a disservice by making it synonymous with -- only -- the ballet, say, or a piece of art in a museum. Much the way I'd like to see an end to the elitist and unhelpful separation of arts into categories like "high art" and "pop culture" (where does Arcade Fire fit in? or a Cronenberg film?), defining culture as something peripheral is sometimes used as a way to engineer consent around moving away from public or government support. Culture is in the passenger seat of our society but driving it.
HOW HAS YOUR DEFINITION OF CULTURE SHAPED, INFLUENCED AND/OR ENHANCED YOUR CAREER/LIFE?
How has my definition influenced me? That's easy. My interest in a mash-up of culture probably comes from my own affections for everything from opera to punk rock and my background as a kid born into a Muslim family who grew up in a Jewish community in a (predominantly) Christian country. I feel like I am the kind of cultural blend that makes for a contemporary Canadian. To put words into practise, with Q we define culture as everything from great literature to amateur sports to new media to political ads to Anne Murray. (ok, especially Anne Murray.)
HOW WOULD YOU SAY CULTURE HELPS TO SHAPE AND/OR ENHANCE THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES?
Culture is who we are. It is our identity. There are local cultures across this diverse and fascinating land, there are founding languages and traditions, and there is also on a macro level, I believe, a distinctly Canadian culture. Without it we are faceless and uninteresting. Without our collective history of art, music, design, dance, languages, foods, poetry and plays (to name a few areas) -- and the "two solitudes" -- we have very little binding us. Without our new artists, creative class and cultural leaders we have few ways to determine our future path. It is our culture that makes me a proud Canadian. It is that culture that I believe we should be screaming from the rooftops to support, protect, and grow.