The Life of an Ordinary Artist/Person by Katherine Sanders

Summer is over. Winter is on the way. There is yet another conservative minority government in power. Once again, people whom I did not vote for are running the country, although it’s not quite as bad as it could have been. I have just been rejected for yet another grant. If I’m lucky in the future there will still be grants to apply for. But right now I have to look for work. I have a pile of laundry to do. I have to clean my apartment.

I am one of those ordinary people who practice art. The kind Stephen Harper believes doesn’t exist. I am even from Alberta, originally. I grew up in Calgary, where all the theatres are named after oil companies. Culture is booming in Calgary right now, thanks not to the government but to the enormously rich oil companies. As more and more people move to the city to work in the oil & gas industry, the sponsorship departments of these companies ensure that there will be something for their employees to do. They also want to offset their bad reputations as planet destroyers and land rapers. So they give money to theatres, symphonies, dance companies, galleries, even individual artists. They help fund projects that would never happen if they relied solely on government support. They have funded the cultural revolution in Alberta.

Now, I am one of the biggest detractors of Alberta oil companies. And yet here I am praising them for the contributions they have made to culture in my former hometown. This is because, unlike Stephen Harper’s conservatives, they recognize that people can’t live without art. Compared to the elected leaders of this country, the oil companies are a godsend to the arts. This is bad.

But I am still an artist. I am an ordinary person, and my life gets more and more ordinary with every grant rejection. Every time I try unsuccessfully to get funding from the government to create my work, my life becomes a little bit more banal. I didn’t get the grant - now it’s time to look for catering work. I didn’t get that endowment - now I have to find a temp job. So I spend my time looking for ways to survive, rather than spending my time making this country a more interesting place to live. I can’t stop being an artist just because no-one will give me money to do it.

So what now? For me? Well, I have to go to the laundromat. While my clothes are spinning, maybe I can jot down a few ideas for my next project. Then I’ll go home and look on “” for a while, see if I can find something vaguely related to my passion, something that will pay me actual money. Then I’ll call my catering company and see if there are any gigs coming up. Then maybe I can squeeze in a bit of writing before bedtime. This is the life of the ordinary artist.

Katherine Sanders is a Toronto based actor and writer.

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