Hello again from Home!
Spring has reluctantly gotten out of bed. With disheveled hair and eyes half closed, she is trudging to the kitchen to pour a coffee and contemplate the long day ahead.
Spring’s To-Do list:
1. Remove snow from tennis court before Prez goes insane.
2. Heat lake water up enough that swimmers can venture in for at least five minutes before succumbing to hypothermia.
3. Open the Dairy Queen so that Princess may once again enjoy chocolate dipped cones.
Well, those are the priorities, as far as I’m concerned.
For me, spring is also the season of green. Green as in money. As in, grant money.
Let me back up here…
In the fall of 2011, I was invited to join the organizing committee for the Kootenay Literary Competition. I had been part of the competition in the past – as an entrant and then as a judge – so I was pleased to roll up my sleeves and help out behind the scenes. My learning curve was steep but apparently I made enough of an impression to be elected as Committee Chair before the end of the year. And despite a shoestring budget and a serious lack of time, planning and manpower, we pulled off a very successful event.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned from this endeavor, so far, perhaps the greatest is how woefully underfunded the arts are in this province. In 2009, the Liberal government slashed the arts budget by 81%. And the level of funding continues to drop.
Now you may be asking, “Who cares?”
Well, if you watch TV or movies; read books, newspapers or magazines; enjoy the latest fashions; hang some kind of decorations on your walls; listen to music; or have children with a flair for the creative, you should care. Art is all around you. This Coconut Chronicle is art…believe it or not. You may not realize how much art enriches your life but, trust me, it does. What a grey and sad world this would be without these myriad forms of human expression.
On Tuesday evening, I attended a special city council meeting. Over 50 community organizations were represented, and each had two minutes to plead their case for a chunk of the Columbia Basin Trust grant money pie. To give you an idea of what that pie looks like, there is a total of $126,445.23 of available grant money, (35% of that is allotted to arts, culture and heritage). To give you an idea of what the field of pie-seekers looks like, the amount of money being requested is over $265,000, (the arts, culture and heritage sector accounts for over $60,000 of that total).
Or, if you prefer a visual example, here’s a video of my speech at the council meeting:
I’m a writer not a mathematician but I had a friend consult some charts…
…and I can tell you that a lot of people will be going home pie-less.
The Kootenay Literary Competition committee has applied for three grants and we will know the fate of all by the end of May. The sad part is that, while I have practically broken my fingers from crossing them so hard, I also want all the other applicants to succeed as well. There are so many worthy projects out there, (such as the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival…yay!), it’s painful to see us all begging for crumbs.
But beg I will, damnit. A big part of the reason I have come as far with my writing as I have is because of the competitions I have entered. They forced me to set deadlines, to ruthlessly edit my work, and to bring my craft up to a higher level. Those prizes may not have been much, but they were something. They were at least some reward, some goal to aim for. If I can give that to other writers, I will. The Kootenays have been good to me and my little scribbles, and I intend to repay the favour.
So Spring, now that you’ve had a stiff cup of Joe, it’s time to get to work. Be kind and remember that you too are a work of art.
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
p.s. For those of you who are wondering, the manuscript is still out there, wandering the streets of NYC, looking for a home. So don’t uncross those fingers just yet!
p.p.s This is my 200th Chronicle! Well, my 200th Internet Chronicle, but a landmark nonetheless. HAPPY 200th COCONUT CHRONICLES!! And thanks to you die-hard Nutters out there who have stuck with me, and those gumballs that fall out of my cranium, for almost a decade. SMOOCHES!