The poor artist


Dana and I and about 500 other people really enjoyed the WWII Revue Saturday evening at Kincardine United Church. The 34 members of the Northland Barbershop Chorus of Sault Ste. Marie make great four-part harmony and the Howlin’ Dog Vintage Jazz Band of Kincardine sounded like it came from downtown TO or Montreal.

After the organizers said the event will raise $11,000 for Legion Branch 183 in Kincardine, two thoughts came to mind – the audience got quite a deal and artists are underpaid.

Steelback Brewery paid the bus fare and put the choir up for a couple of nights. Everything else, including the services of the choir and the band, was donated. Good for the musicians and the people and companies in the community for helping to raise money for the Legion.

Take away the contributions of Steelback and others in the area, and you would be lucky to have any of the $11,000 left. In short, if someone brought the two groups together and paid them to perform, a ticket would have to cost at least $75 per person, not the $20 people paid.

And I doubt if the church would have been packed Saturday evening if tickets were $75. Most people would pay a tradesman that amount for 2.5 hours work – but not an artist.

Work for the artistic types, whether they be musicians, writers, painters or photographers, is a labour of love. Why else would a choir endure two nine-hour bus rides and a weekend away from home to sing in Kincardine? Why else do painters, poets, novelists spend hours on projects that 99 per cent of the time don’t pay off. For every artist that actually makes a decent living, there are another 10,000 who work for peanuts.

Yet it is art that makes life so rich and livable. A good photograph, painting, poem, or story can capture your soul – something a light switch or pipe wrench will never do.

So here’s to the artists, even the lowly newspaper hack who could double or triple his money by becoming a public relations man.

Never say there is "nothing to do around here." Besides the above event on the weekend, on Friday evening there were junior and senior hockey games in Kincardine and Ripley respectively, the Walker House annual fall feast and a wine tasting. The Christmas Home tour was Saturday evening and Sunday and a Swiss Yodeling Choir was in Ripley Sunday. You could even visit Santa in Tiverton on Saturday.

It’s tough falling from grace.

I was speaking to my daughter in Regina on the phone last week and she mentioned that one of the Regina radio stations was laughing at Ontario because we’ve become a have-not province.

After poking fun at Toronto types, the spoof said for the "cost of a double double you could sponsor an Ontarian for the winter." The message was sponsored by Saskatchewan, a have province.

After 50 years and contributing $100-billion to the pot, Ontario is set to collect $347 million next year from Ottawa.

I’d say it’s about time we received some money in return. And I don’t remember anyone mocking Saskatchewan which, for years, was a have-not province .

Maybe they’re just jealous out west. We have the trees, milder winters and two NHL teams.

On the same topic, the reason Ontario has become a have-not province has a lot to do with the way they play politics in Ottawa.

Ontario might be going to get $347 million back from Ottawa, but Ontario taxpayers still pay $5.5-billion into the equalization fund. On the other hand, according to The Globe and Mail, a river of cash flows into Quebec - $8-billion this year from $4.8-billion in 2005-2006. That’s because of politics – the Harper government changed the equalization rules because it wanted to win more seats in Quebec. And the Harper government is not the first to play this game.

One thing about the newspaper business, every mistake you make is on display.

Our lead story last week, Kincardine hospital has a future, was continued on to page 2. The final line of the story disappeared and many readers phoned to see what they had missed.

The answer is four words: "we’re up to the challenge." Those words were the end of a Dr. Lisa Roth quote.

There certainly was a plethora of junk mail last Wednesday. If you can’t sell your product, give it away.