Marie Christine Perreault just launched a new website Depann’Art to match actors with clients looking for help with jobs like pet sitting, gardening, painting, caring for an elderly parent, catering and repairing computers.
"Actors are creative people, she says. "Some members have developed nice abilities. I just have to convince them they are marketable."
The website launched Nov. 26 with 60 actors already signed up. They’ve paid $50 a year to post a profile and list of tasks they’re willing to do.
The service is free for clients looking for help.
Perreault says times are hard in the acting business.
"These days, it’s very difficult to be an artist. The government is cutting everywhere. No money, no jobs. Producers are crying like hell. So I had this idea about helping my friends earn extra money."
Perreault used her own home decorating skills to get the site up and running, offering help decorating a kitchen in exchange for web development.
According to Service Canada statistics for 2006-2011, the average salary for an actor in Quebec is $26,177, but almost half make less than $20,000 a year.
Only 18.9 per cent of actors made more than $50,000 a year.
Actor Marie Josée Bélanger signed up to Dépann’Art and was thrilled to find a job the next day painting an apartment.
Bélanger juggles catering, waitressing, and now home renovation.
"As an artist, it's hard to have a full-time job and stay focused on your main career. So I decided to give [Dépann’Art] a try and see if it could work for me.”
Her client, theatre producer Eric Lapointe, said he knows how hard it can be for people in the artistic community to make ends meet.
"Artists have the reputation [as hard workers]. They are disciplined. They can do many things and, because I work in technical production, I decided to employ some artist to do it. It helped myself and it's a plan to help them too.”
Dépann’Art is open to anyone with a UDA or ACTRA membership. Perreault hopes the website will help actors find part-time work and create a new kind of community support for our performers.