I mentioned earlier in the week that Franke James has found out that DFAIT has been actively blocking grants and appearances abroad. This included calling up a corporate sponsor to pull $75,000 in grant money or face losing millions in government contracts. The Tyee has taken up the story and done some digging. Geoff Dembicki got DFAIT on the line and they were kind enough to put the following on the record:
The federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), meanwhile, claimed James’ account “does not appear to be based on the facts” and denied any knowledge of meddling with her funding sources.
Fortunately this is not just James v. DFAIT. One of the parties to experience the pressure to drop James has come out publicly – Croatian NGO Nektarina. Nektarina has posted on its website a public complaint against the Canadian Government for directly interfering with its attempts to host Canadian cultural producers. Of particular interest are the following passages:
When Nektarina decided to present Franke’s artwork in a series of exhibitions in Europe and Central Asia, we felt confident of the support of Canada – Franke’s homeland. Regrettably, the Canadian Government has since declined support for the project, verbally explaining that “She (Franke James) speaks against the Canadian Government”. Nektarina Non Profit was deeply surprised and disappointed by the reaction of official Canada, yet we decided to carry on with the project.
They then go on to note:
In the past few months we have encountered many difficulties in organizing the exhibitions, usually connected to interventions of the Canadian Government or institutions under Canadian governmental control. We continued to look for ways to collaborate with the home land of the artist, although at times we felt patronized and even intimidated, as a small NGO trying to reach an understanding with a powerful state.
So DFAIT … care to explain?