I’ve been watching the ongoing financial crisis with a kind of detached smugness. While my modest RSP savings have been significantly reduced, I can sleep at night because of my big fat government pension. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my 3.5% mortgage rate and filling up at 71 cents a litre. I work at a stable, well-managed, and well-funded institution and have viewed myself as recession-proof.
I forgot one important thing – I work in the arts.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve begun to feel a little uneasy. It’s possible, probably even likely, that the government will reduce funding for crown corporations in the coming weeks. If the economic uncertainty continues, my employer’s other revenue streams – parking, restaurants, ticket sales, fundraising – could also be negatively affected. In a perfect storm, things could get very bad, very quickly.
Earlier this week, Ballet BC made headlines when it suddenly announced it was laying off the entire company and staff. They hope to have the company up and running again in the spring, but nothing is certain. Some fear this could just the tip of the iceberg for arts organizations that already operate on razor-thin margins.
If things do go really poorly and I’m suddenly looking for work, my considerable experience as a 19th century military music interpreter will obviously be a big plus. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who can operate a 24-pound smooth-bore muzzle-loading gun whilst whistling British Grenadiers? I can also take comfort in the fact that I have two degrees in music performance, which has prepared me for a career in the food services industry. All I have to do is figure out how to say “Would you like fries with that?” en francais…