Why Saskatchewan?

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - MUSIC - Evie Koop Sawatzky

Peo­ple ask me, “why aren’t you in New York?” It’s flat­ter­ing, but also mod­er­ately dis­turb­ing. As if a New York or Toronto-based artist is some­how more im­por­tant or valu­able than an artist who has made the choice to base them­selves in Saskatchewan.

I get it. Those who can’t do teach, right? And those who can’t make it live in Saskatchewan?

Well first of all, yes, I do teach. And I am pretty dang good at it! And I don’t use lan­guage like that very of­ten. It is with great pride that I see stu­dents at­tach their in­ner pas­sion to their voice. It is with awe that I re­call the dozen stu­dents who couldn’t match pitches… at all. Pa­tience and ded­i­ca­tion from teacher, par­ents and stu­dents changed that and opened doors for them around the world. In Saskatchewan, I have taught folk, rock and coun­try record­ing artists, ac­tors, dancers, and mu­si­cal theatre artists.

My world is big, through my stu­dents and pro­fes­sional con­nec­tions and through the RuBarb au­di­ence. We reg­u­larly have guests from across Canada and the north­ern United States. It was ex­cit­ing to wel­come our first in­ter­na­tional bus tour to the first ever RuBarb Sum­mer Theatre Fest.

I am a artist who has de­cided against all odds to try and make a liv­ing in mu­sic and drama in Saskatchewan. For me, I teach pri­vate and group lessons be­cause it means I can con­tinue to earn enough money to stay in Saskatchewan. Even though I run a theatre com­pany, I don’t get to act in every show. So be­tween the con­tracts to di­rect, act, chore­o­graph and teach, I am able to pull in a mod­est amount of money which for now will keep me in the arts and out of a nine-to-five desk job.

Every day is a strug­gle to make ends meet and every day I re­con­nect with my pur­pose: to serve Saskatchewan by mak­ing the arts scene more vi­brant.

In case you were won­der­ing, artists don’t do it to make money. We do it be­cause we NEED to share, com­fort and en­cour­age. We see shapes and hear shapes that rep­re­sent what it means to be hu­man. What it means to live right now and right here.

I have no prob­lem with peo­ple who move away from Saskatchewan. I moved to Toronto a few years ago and in my fu­ture I will likely move again. I know all across Canada there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to work and col­lab­o­rate with peo­ple who just like me are pas­sion­ate about their com­mu­ni­ties.

But I came back to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to give back and cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren and youth like me who had lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties to study Mu­si­cal Theatre.

I came back for the other Saskatchewan artists (both lo­cal and ex-pats) who needed more op­por­tu­ni­ties to work pro­fes­sion­ally in the prov­ince they love.

The fu­ture of Saskatchewan is what we are build­ing right now. En­cour­age the ar­ti­sans and mu­si­cians who make your com­mu­ni­ties vi­brant. They cre­ate events that build civic pride and stim­u­late not only tourism dol­lars but lo­cal spend­ing as well.

Let’s be in­no­va­tive to­gether; busi­nesses, char­i­ties, non-prof­its, sports, recre­ation and cul­ture.

We must col­lab­o­rate and work to­gether in non-tra­di­tional ways to re­vi­tal­ize our com­mu­ni­ties and en­sure that the next gen­er­a­tion sees our way of liv­ing as part of their story.

Artists tell sto­ries. Your story and mine. May our sto­ries live on and in­spire great­ness in ev­ery­one who shares their pas­sion in ser­vice of this beau­ti­ful stage - Saskatchewan.

Every day is a strug­gle to make ends meet and every day I re­con­nect with my pur­pose: to serve Saskatchewan by mak­ing the arts scene more vi­brant.

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