It’s going to be a year of significant challenges for lots of us in the arts community. (Notice, please, that I used the word “us” when I said arts community. WholeNote magazine may not be arts or culture in the way the Arts Councils use the words. But if phrases like labour of love and precariousness of livelihood are part and parcel of your notion of community arts, then count us among your fellow arts workers.) Now, where was I? Oh yes, significant challenges.

First, it is going to be a challenge to remain confident. “It’s not raining right now, but they say there’s this huge storm about to break. So, better hunker down. Do less. Give less. Save for that rainy day.”

Ever notice that they – i.e. the experts –have jobs, ... being experts. So they think the storm hasn’t hit yet. Well I have some news for them. Down here, in community arts land, it’s raining already! In fact, in community arts land, as the song says, it keeps rainin’ all the time.

So to those of you, hand in pocket, weighing up whether to give or save for a rainy day, I say give! In community arts land , stormy economic times are good planting weather.

An even bigger challenge for the arts in these times is how to avoid becoming the whipping boy for ugly spirited governments like some of the ones we tend to get. You know the scenario: “Of course we can still find money for the Canada Council so they can give it to some artist to make a meat dress and then film it as it turns maggoty. We’ll just take the money from the local food bank.” And zap! there we are again. The arts and culture scapegoat prancing around in the rain with a public opinion lightning rod tied to our tail.

Well, to those of you getting ready to launch a thunderbolt’s worth of righteous indignation if government dares to spend on “frills” in these times of uncertainty, I say give it a rest!
In community arts we make a dollar go further than any other sector of the economy. (I have experts to prove it!) Because when it rains we fill our barrels with hope.

Want to know who “we” are? Take a walk through our listings pages and see. And then, take your hands out of your pockets, with cash in them, and head on out! Now’s the time to keep local music alive.

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