Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Didn’t Expect This……..

For many of the last several years I have always had full time employment and my artwork was created during my time off. I would teach an art workshop for the youths about once a month or so on a Saturday afternoon. In 2005-06, I continued with my work while Joanne went back to college. After Jo’ graduated with honours and found a job that she liked, I started thinking that I would really like to advance my own ‘career’ as an artist.

During this time, I got an unusual phone call. It was from the Ontario Arts Council. They had heard – and I’m not really sure how – about my environmental art workshops and they thought that I would make a good jury member for a review panel. Of course, I accepted. A month later, I was staying in a hotel in downtown Toronto for a weeklong stay. Their were five others on this review panel and our job was to assess and evaluate close to one hundred applications that were applying for grant money to fund their art projects. I learned a lot.

Two months later, I sent in my own application. I received about 80% of the funds I had requested and soon a slightly scaled down ‘Art For Earth 2008-09’ was born. Most of the stories found in this blog are about these art workshops.

I never intended to build a career only on grant money, but I knew that I had to receive funding for a few programs so that I could continue to establish myself in my community.

I began to plan ahead. Last October I applied for funding for this coming summer’s art workshops. Last November I applied for funding for the 2009-10 school year. I figured that if I got funding for both of these programs that other opportunities would arise and my career would be on its way…………………….

Well, in January I found out that my summer program did not receive funding. Ooops! I was already struggling to pay the rent and suddenly my future looked rather gloomy. I began to search for full time employment. I also made the decision that I could not afford to gamble on my art career again. If I received funding for my fall art workshops, I would have to leave another full time job and again, further funding could be another risk. I called the OAC and asked to have my next application pulled from the pile.

Quite simply, I decided to go back to the way I was working before. Work full time – paint when I can – teach when I can. I’m getting close to forty years old and I need to be responsible for providing a decent living standard for my family.

A few weeks of job searching followed and then someone told me “Yes.”

I spent two weeks in a training course, which I passed with high marks and now I am a certified and licensed school bus driver.

My resume is one of the oddest that I could imagine – christmas tree pruner, shingler, gas station attendant, dish washer, disc jockey, security guard, night auditor, waiter, bartender, landscaper, snow shoveler, foreman, courier driver, teacher, farm labourer and on and on…….

I wonder what other skills I still have to learn before I’m an old man!!!!!


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