Silenced in Europe, Franke Gets Loud in Ottawa!
by Franke James
Franke goes to Ottawa. Pledge her LoudSauce Campaign: Help Franke James Fight the Blacklisting by the Canadian Government
[Update Nov.10, 2011: Please see the latest news about the Access to Information Documents and my Banned on the Hill essay.]
Yep. My European show is cancelled, thanks to interference from Canada’s Harper Government — which makes me mad. But I’m not going to let them silence me. To make sure my voice is heard, I’ve decided some grassroots, guerilla tactics are in order…
So, I’ve teamed up with LoudSauce to take my environmental message to the nation’s capital — and buy space on billboards and bus shelters in Ottawa. No government should be able to shut down peaceful, law-abiding artists and writers, especially when we live in a so-called democracy. Free speech and freedom of expression are at risk — while polluters get to pump CO2 into our air for free. We can’t let Harper get away with this anymore.
Support my LoudSauce campaign in Ottawa: Help Franke James Fight the Blacklisting by the Canadian Government
LoudSauce uses crowdfunding to buy media space for ideas that matter. Think billboards and bus shelters — except the ad space is put to good use — literally. Whatever you want to tell the world (subject to a few guidelines) you can do it with LoudSauce. (If people support your project.) Instead of using advertising to drive consumption, it’s about using those big outdoor billboards to inspire civic participation. How cool is that! Imagine if more billboards inspired us to create a better future — for ourselves and others. Could that raise awareness of social and environmental issues? I think so.
Are you curious how this billboard plan evolved? My original tour was supposed to launch in Berlin on August 30th, and then travel to art galleries in 20 cities — but all that was thrown out the window when one of the sponsors suddenly backed out on July 11th. So, if I gave up — the Harper Government would have achieved its objective to “Ban Franke James.” And that would be evil. Cue: the guerilla tactics….
Serendipity, Fate or a Miracle?
I happened to be in San Francisco when news of the blacklisting broke on July 25th. I had arranged to meet David Hodgson, a green friend from Twitter, at The Hub. Within five minutes of meeting David, he had already shared my blacklisting woes on Twitter and Google Plus. Then he pulled out his Digital Rolodex, and magic happened. He connected me with his network of social entrepreneurs, which included an introduction to Colin Mutchler, co-founder of LoudSauce.
It may surprise you to know that I love billboards: my first big show was on a 48 foot billboard. About twenty years ago, I looked up at the billboards (hand-painted back then) and wondered why they didn’t put art on them. With that dream, I set about finding a sponsor. Manufacturer’s Life sponsored the travelling show as their 100th birthday gift to the Canadian public. The billboard artshow was a fabulous success. It featured artists from coast-to-coast, including Jack Shadbolt, Mary Pratt, Yves Gaucher, Louis de Niverville — and me. (For info see my Bates College talk: Who are you going be?)
Bullied into Cancelling the Exhibition
Nektarina’s original goal for my art show was to educate and foster “debate among teens regarding climate change issues and to inspire creativity.” However, inadvertently the Croatian NGO was pulled into the crossfires of Canadian politics when they discovered that I was on the Canadian Government’s blacklist. They didn’t relish a political battle with Canada, but were willing to go forward to protect free speech.
But I was alarmed to discover the high price Nektarina was paying to defend me. They are suffering political and economic fallout that is risking their very survival. I’ve had a few sleepless nights, lately… When Nektarina and I made the tough decision to cancel the European tour, I knew I had to turn to my social networks to put a grassroots, guerilla plan into action. LoudSauce is part of that plan. And there’s more to come. Wherever you are in the world, I invite you to contact me with your suggestions.
Harper’s Blacklist Club has opened up new opportunities
It’s quite fascinating. Now that I’m a member of the growing, and not-very-exclusive Harper’s Blacklist Club, there are new opportunities to explore. My blacklisting has been making news in Canada – and increasingly around the world. Here’s a blog comment that recognizes what happens when the powers-that-be try to squelch artists…
“Allow me to congratulate you right now on your eventual triumph, since this is a struggle which our Prime Grinch is certain to lose. I will even consider thanking the Top Harpoon himself for drawing my attention to your wonderful work. In his laughable stab at censorship, Big-Eyes-Wide-Shut has honoured a comic tradition in which dour autocrats promote provocative art pro bono by trying in vain to suppress it. What fun we shall have watching His Stiffness try to wriggle out from under this one! It will also afford me great pleasure to draw attention to your work through my own personal channels. Your light-hearted touch in illustrating so deadly a topic brings credit to every good Canadian.” ~ Douglas Smith
Ironically, if the Canadian Government had just let my touring art show go ahead, you probably would not have heard about it. That’s because the educational goal of the art show (inspiring teens to make their own climate change art) doesn’t make headlines. When the show was originally conceived it was not political at all. Everything changed when I heard I had been blacklisted. That’s when I decided I better live up to my reputation and throw Fat Cat Canada and Dear Prime Minister into the mix – and show the full range of issues that I care about as a Canadian citizen.
Thank you to everyone who has tweeted, “liked” or G+’ed to help spread the word about my blacklisting. Your support has been amazing!
It’s clear from the outpouring of support — the 1600 votes on Care2 (big thanks to Cathryn Wellner for writing the letter) and the hundreds of people signing the Care2 petition — plus the many blog posts and comments left on my site, that this censorship issue has hit a nerve.
This isn’t what we think Canada is about. Aren’t our leaders supposed to be above partisan politics? Aren’t Canadian Embassies supposed to be there for all Canadians, of all colours and stripes? Not just the ones who wear Tory Blue!
Please pledge your support for my LoudSauce Billboard Campaign in Ottawa:
Stop Blacklisting Environmental Artists and Scientists in Canada
How can you help? Here are 5 ways:
- Please leave your comment below about this blacklisting.
- Do you have ideas for a virtual or low-cost guerilla art show? Please write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Share this blog post on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.
- Make a pledge on LoudSauce.