30 March 2012

Passion Portrait: Kim Russell

KIM RUSSELL- WRITER- Ask any artist if they chose their career or if their path was predetermined for them; and I’d wager a bet - their answer leans toward them following their destiny.  In my journey, I have faced numerous career choices and all too often I chose wrong.  I’ve been a recruiter, a real estate developer, an exporter, and a tax preparer.  I have a BA in theater and a Master in Business Administration.  In each profession I reached a moderate level of success, UNTIL, I hit a brick wall during the journey.   A familiar brick wall - one laced with boredom, resistance, a sense of nowhere else to go, sometimes failure and sometimes panic.  The brick wall that signaled a time for change!   So here I am – in my 50’s - turning to the arts for a career.  At a time when I should be rounding out my retirement nest egg, I’m beefing up my performance and writing portfolio.  At a time when I should be thinking just 15 years to go before hitting the retirement road in an RV - I’m planning the next five years around booking conferences, auditions, and playwriting competitions.   So why do I do this at this stage in my life?  I have no other choice.  The doors keep opening and the path seems solid, unfettered, and promising.  It is a risk.  But for the first time in my life I believe it is a well-calculated risk.  The arts are a-calling me – and I’m packed and ready.   Have you answered the call?  

08 March 2012

The Talent Drain

The literature competition, Canada Reads was on the CBC recently. The book debate show got on the topic of Canadian artists building careers, and sometimes finding fame, only once they've crossed the border south to the US. This got me thinking about all of those for whom that rung true: Justin Bieber, Ryan Gosling, Sandra Bullock, Steve Martin, Mike Meyers, and so many more. It’s not only huge stars; many friends and dancers I’ve worked with have left the country looking for, above all else, work. This issue is relevant for most types of artists.   I moved to Europe for a while. I wasn’t making the big bucks, but at least I did not need a second or even a third job - unrelated to my craft - to make ends meet. Canada is plagued by many symptoms for this talent ‘brain drain’ with a cocktail of reasons and excuses that lead to nowhere. I refuse to believe that we are any less talented than our neighbours to the south or our cousins across the Atlantic.   Then I came across an interview with actor Jay Baruchel. Having shot to stardom in Hollywood, he never forgot his roots. He still lives in Montreal and continues to make films here. He recently starred in the movie The Trotsky, a hilarious and proudly Montreal film that garnered stellar reviews. He explained why he chooses to continue making films here by saying: “ I without a doubt think that this is the best country that the world has come up with so far, so why wouldn't I want to make movies here?”   We can continue pointing fingers at where we think things have gone wrong. But the only thing that we can do to inspire any progress is to support our Canadian artists and the works of art that are still produced here. As artists, we create every day. So why not create a demand?

05 March 2012

Juggling…A Work in Progress!

You know you have an interesting job when extra training calls for…juggling classes. It may look simple, but it’s surprisingly difficult to achieve. Being our self-assured, yet perhaps a little naive selves, we were convinced that with our routine abilities to dissect movement, juggling could be learned by watching a few step-by-step YouTube videos. There's no need to say, we completely overestimated our talents. Thanks to a friend who kindly offered us a couple of classes, we may not have mastered the discipline completely, but we certainly acquired a new skill. Hats off to all you jugglers out there, especially you, Mr & Mrs fire/axe/knife juggler!

05 March 2012

Artmistice Under The Big Top!

The team was recently part of a major fundraising event inspired by the 1920’s vintage circus world. Appointed with the task of complementing this tremendous evening with a death-defying performance by our very own knife thrower, the cast included a strong man, a gypsy, a lion tamer, a magician, and variety of whimsical characters. Artmistice swung and soared in what was a very challenging, but incredibly enjoyable evening. Thanks to all who made this evening a success!