Dear City of Ottawa,

I was impressed to read about your Inspiration Village initiative!  Your details were, indeed, inspiring:

Inspiration Village by the numbers

5071     Weight (lbs) of an empty 20’ sea container

880       Hours the event is open over 15-weeks, from May 20 to September 4

440       Hours of stage and common area programming

110       Consecutive days the event is open

41         Sea containers on York Street

28         Days it will take to load-in and construct

28         Staff required to operate the exhibits

24/7      Days each week the common areas are open to the public

15         Weeks the event is open to the public

8          Hours the event is open each day

1          VERY BIG EVENT!


I went to check your call for performers with great enthusiasm:


Inspiration Village is proud to present emerging artists, seasoned professionals, aboriginal and cultural artists, dance and arts groups as well as sport and educational organizations with an opportunity to share their talents and/or programs on the event stage (40’W x 14’D x 8’H) or in a large open space at one end of the Village.  Time slots are available between 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, 7 days a week. There is no charge for groups to participate.

… wait, what?  What’s that last line?  That’s hilarious!  Of course there’s no charge for performers to perform. I mean, you built this giant thing, sunk lots of money in it, promised visitors hundreds (!) of hours of entertainment, and you feel the need to declare that you won’t charge the very performers who’ll turn the space from interesting to memorable.

Ha ha ha ha!  You’re hilarious, Ottawa.  I love you.

Wait, what’s this line?

“Please note: While there is no compensation available for performers, we invite those interested to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to participate in this monumental event, promote your talent, gain national exposure and be part of something special.”

… … Wait.  No.  You’re not being funny.

You’re being serious.

You’re telling performers that you need them. That they’ll make this memorable. But that you don’t value their skills. That it doesn’t matter who comes forward BECAUSE THE SPACE IS SO FREAKING COOL, WHY WOULDN’T PERFORMERS JUST WANT TO PERFORM IN IT! That this space is so damn amazing already, why does it matter how good the performances themselves are???

It’s Canada’s 150th. Bring on the starving artists dying of exposure for public display!

Dear Ottawa. I love you. I really do. But performers are people too, like painters and builders and shipping container hunters. We work at our skills and we need to eat.

How much did those containers cost you?

Isn’t your awesome, expensive space worth that final touch? Isn’t it worth it to show artists that their work is valued, because their work turns a space that’s good for a stroll into a space that’s nice to stop in, to take in, to gaze at and even perhaps be amazed by? Or are you hoping to not select your shows? To not make sure each act is worth being looked at, and then to just blame any complaints on the “free” performances?

I keep thinking it has to be one or the other, but I love you and therefore shall give you the benefit of the doubt. You screwed up. You got confused. We all do, at some point. You can still make it right.

You built a beautiful space, Ottawa. Now show how much you care about it by paying your skilled and amazing performers.



* Edited to remove poor pre-caffeine math.