“The AFC keeps artists working”
– Jennifer Krukowski
In many ways, it had started out as a profitable year. I had received a promotion at my job with a theatre company. I had been the recipient of an award that provided education and mentorship for emerging female screenwriters. I was learning new skills as an associate producer and script supervisor on a short film. I had booked a few acting jobs. However, at the same time, I had some unforeseen expenses associated with moving to a new home in need of urgent repairs undisclosed by my landlord. I also had to travel out of province for a work opportunity that ended up eating into my monthly living expenses when I learned at the last minute that the travel fees I was assured would be covered would have to come out of my pocket instead. I was living in an apartment that was physically incapable of being wired for the Internet, and when I wasn’t home I was frequently working on location with no wireless access, so my phone data bill went through the roof simply by keeping up with e-mails. This all resulted in some bills that were well outside my budget and escalated very quickly.
Although I was expecting funds to come in from all of the work I had been doing, there was enough of a delay on the payment that I was facing serious financial consequences. My phone service was going to be disconnected, and as a freelancer, being reachable at all hours is the only way to keep working. I had no savings, and with nothing left after emptying my accounts for expenses affiliated with moving to a new apartment and travelling for work, I was scared of losing my phone service. I was scared of what would happen if I fell too far behind on my hydro bills. I was scared of having to choose between paying for transit to get to work, or eating. I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my landlord where I could ask him to hold off a few days on cashing my rent cheque. My banking institution did not appreciate the irony when I tried to explain that I was waiting on a cheque for a commercial of theirs that I had acted in. I didn’t need much, and I knew that my situation was on the upswing, but I needed to buy some time.
I wasn’t sure if I qualified for assistance from The AFC because I do so many different types of jobs in the arts and culture sector, but when I submitted an application, I immediately received a response from someone who helped me to strengthen my application in order to clarify my situation. I got the impression right away that they sincerely wanted to help me and to understand my situation. I was also offered some advice and strategies on how to manage my finances and make the most out of the support that I was requesting.
Within two weeks of submitting my application, I had received the financial assistance in the exact amount that I needed to bridge the gap between crisis and relief. I kept my phone connected, I paid my rent, I got myself to work and to auditions, and I ate — without having to compromise on any of these necessities. If I hadn’t been able to do those things in that brief but harrowing window of time, the consequences would have been nearly impossible to recover from. The modest sum that I requested made a world of difference to me and I truly don’t know what would have happened if these funds had not come through.
Even as a working artist, it is hard to say how much you will be paid and how often, or where the work will take you, or what it will cost to get you there — regardless of how much it might pay down the road. Even when you are making ends meet, those ends are sometimes a lot farther apart than you can prepare for. The AFC keeps artists working. It keeps us in a position to say “yes” to career opportunities when they come along. I am eternally grateful for The AFC’s support and intend to pay it forward someday.