How hard is it for artists to make ends meet in Nelson?
According to an opinion piece by local sculptor Charlie Sivell published in the Star earlier this year, it can be pretty hard. In his article “Homelessness is not a career” he detailed his struggle to find suitable housing, let alone studio space.
“Trying to preserve a sense of self-worth and self-esteem during this prolonged process has been challenging, including being visible to the community and seen as apparently able-bodied yet unemployed. Had I been supported to do the work I had been successful at, things might have been very different,” he wrote.
“We need public forums where people such as myself can speak freely about our experience…We need to be welcomed to the table. We need the ideas brought forward to be used to make meaningful changes in our social system, and we need to be a part of making that change.”
Sivell’s missive caught a lot of people’s attention, and one of those people was the Nelson and District Arts Council’s Sydney Black. And now she’s hoping to work with other community members to ensure artists are being valued, encouraged and — most importantly — paid.
“I was having a conversation with Eleanor Stacey from the Civic Theatre, and we were trying to figure out what we should offer for Culture Days,” Black told the Star, noting they were originally thinking about an audition workshop or something in that vein.
Then they came across social media posts from local artists who were struggling with Nelson’s so-called “Paradise Tax”.
“We were talking about how Nelson prides itself on being the best little arts town, but I started thinking about what we as a community can do to support these artists that make this name for us.
“There are so many people who come here and live here and create here.”
But what are they supposed to do when the housing vacancy hovers below two percent?
“We live in this beautiful place where there are so many opportunities to create, but how many of those opportunities are paid? And how many places are there to display your work? To perform you craft? And what can the city be doing to better support the growth of the arts sector?”
Those questions, and others, will discussed during a community forum that will feature councillor Anna Purcell, Nelson CARES’ Jenny Robinson, representatives from the Cultural Development Committee and working artists such as Brian Kalbfleisch and Doug Leitch.
If you can think of any other questions, Black would like you to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will Johnson will be a part of the panel on Oct. 2. It runs from 1 to 2 p.m.