How do you spell ‘CARING’?

To Whom It May Concern:

I recently attended a fundraising event for PAL (Performing Arts Lodge) Halifax, held at Halifax’s World Trade & Convention Centre. I heard of the event by chance, and what caught my eye was that it was an excuse to get together with a group of interesting people and play Scrabble. Yes, Scrabble.

So, how do you spell ‘caring?’ When I sent off my money to attend the event, my first thought was that it would be fun. My second thought was that it seemed to be for a good cause. My third, fourth, and fifth thoughts were that I wish I’d been aware of them before, because I’d have supported them from the time of their formation, not quite a decade ago.

PAL Halifax is working to create a space for people who’ve historically given so very much to our community – and to whom I suspect many don’t give much thought beyond the latest performance/production/piece. People involved in the arts, whether they are actors, writers, technicians, painters, sculptors, musicians, or anything else you might name, generally don’t do these jobs for the huge salaries. Some people make a LOT of money in all of those disciplines; many more, however, do not. Most people who create art to charm, please, thrill, and provoke us do so because they simply love what they do. They could no more NOT do that than they could stop breathing.

What many do not realise is that even in Halifax, some of the very best we have must have more than one job, not to live richly but to live reasonably. Professional musicians and dancers are private teachers; others may create other sorts of art which they can sell. Technicians may work one day on a movie, and the next on a corporate team-building event. The person doing stunt work today might be the person serving you in retail or at a restaurant tomorrow. People are cobbling together a living in a way that allows them to do the thing they love to do most of all – and all of these things make our community richer.

Something common in this group is a certain amount of income uncertainty. The idea of a comfortable retirement, of a retirement fund or pension plan, is often impossible when simply living takes all that is earned. And here’s how we spell ‘caring.’ PAL Halifax, which is a member of PAL Canada, was created by a group of people involved in some way in performing arts to create a community – a tangible community, in a physical home – in which those very artists will not have to live near or at the poverty line in order to keep doing what they do. In the not-too-distant future, PAL Halifax will be able to provide housing in the heart of the city, where people in the arts and entertainment industry can live and support one another. PAL Halifax will provide residents with security, care and a sense of being personally valued. They will be well housed, and engaged in their community.

Perplexingly, there remains a perception that performers, artists, and entertainers somehow live an enriched type of existence – possibly because of a (misguided) perception that arts events are for the moneyed set. Throughout my life, I have appreciated art in all its forms and have taken advantage of dozens of opportunities every year to enjoy it and to share it with my daughter. It seems to me entirely appropriate to support PAL Halifax, because for all the arts and entertainment industry in Nova Scotia (and throughout Canada) has given me, I know that my support of PAL will enable me to give back, even if it’s really just a fraction of all the pleasure I’ve received.

The work done by those in the arts and entertainment field has spinoff effects throughout our community – from very young schoolchildren who are exposed to live theatre to very elderly people who now have time to enjoy the arts in a way that they might not have been able to do in younger years. Boilermakers and bankers, clerks and CEOs – we all benefit from arts in the community.

I couldn’t possibly have imagined that attending one fundraising event would have such a profound effect on my desire to support PAL’s efforts in an ongoing way, but it has. And I couldn’t be more pleased about it. PAL’s “Scrabble With the Stars” was a successful fundraiser, due to a lot of VERY hard work by some incredibly committed individuals. If you missed the event, you haven’t missed a chance to contact them yourself and find out more about what they do. Your community will benefit if you do.

Bobbi Zahra
Halifax, NS

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