Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What She Said

I'm back...and want to begin with thanking Stephanie, fellow knitter, writer and Canadian, for her blog post on the arts cuts proposed by our PM, Mr. Harper.

In my mid-fifties, I am a fledgling writer (see my essay in Lela Nargi's latest, Knitting Through It, page 61), and the mother of a recent University of Lethbridge BFA(Dramatic Arts) graduate. That's Fine Arts, Mr. Harper. The degree took him four-and-a-half years, and I footed the bill for about 35% of that (he worked and got an inheritance and scholarships too). Spent about $30,000 (I know, cheap compared to other countries' universities and to other programs in Canada)...or more, counting living expenses, books, etc. And Mart just completed his first dramatic lead as Dr. Herr Fritz Haber in a superb UL performance of Einstein's Gift -- favourably reviewed by the CBC, I'm told. I went to the Opening. Almost a full house. Standing O at the end, given a great cast of student- and recently-graduated actors.

By the way, the play was written by Vern Thiessen, an Edmonton playwrite...uh oh. Another Canadian artist... Further more, this was the first time royalties for this play were released to an amateur production...

I was a typical soccer mom till my son hit 13, and was captivated by the theatre. Thus began years of schlepping him across town to rehearsals for amateur and semi-pro productions at St. Peter's Players ("Anne of Green Gables", for starters. Gosh, another Canadian script based on yet another Canadian's novel of the same name. And just how many jobs in PEI and across Canadad has L.M. Montgomery created, albeit posthumously?) and Storybook Theatre in Calgary, plus summer day-camps at Storybook, Mount Royal College and Theatre Calgary. Then there were drama classes in Junior High and High School...

All without tax breaks for my time, gas mileage etc. He loved doing it; I worked backstage at St. Peter's Players, made costumes, dressed actors, put out props. His dad, grandma and I cheered from the cheap seats...

Now he works as a prep cook at a restaurant in Lethbridge to pay his bills while he pursues his art...and you've just decided he'll have less to pursue because you've cut funding to the arts.

Oh sure, you've offered tax credits to parents for lessons for kids -- but that doesn't help the young and not-so-young artist out there trying to make a go of it. Most artists aren't discovered in Hollywood fashion. And many -- like my son -- don't want a Hollywood career. They want to make it in the theatre or in the gallery, or on the concert stage or in the operatic realm in Canada. You know? The True North Strong and Free, eh?

So...What She Said.

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