Pursuing any kind of career is hard (unless you’re Bruce Wayne). Because of my interesting life, I know many interesting people (yay ME) from all industries scattered across the globe. Some of my best friends are medical-types, educators, health-related people, business savvy wizards, nine to fivers and of course creative types.
Each industry has its ladder to climb and no ladder is less challenging than any other.
But sometimes I wonder, if the Arts industry actually has a ladder? Maybe its more of greased up lightning rod you’re trying to climb? Or maybe where the ladder is supposed to be, there’s actually just an empty space with an artwork tag that says “Ladder” and four creative types (one in tattered jeans and some kind of slouchy headwear) are standing around describing how “post modern” and “eclectic” the ladder is. And just like in the Emperors new clothes you nod and agree and leap in the space it theoretically should be, only to fall flat on your face.
Are we still following?
Good. Lets move on.
I’ve had some experience trying to get a foothold on that elusive ladder…probably I’ve had more experience discussing how I should probably try and look for that ladder. Bitching about not being an academy award winning screenplay writer when I haven’t written a screenplay since 2010, and wondering why there are people younger than me who are more famous.
It’s a tough industry. I know a lot of talented creative people who gave up on their dreams to try for different careers. I know many creative people struggling to make what they love a priority and a full time gig, while busting their arses doing something else to pay the bills.
My Mother is a perfect example of someone in the latter category. Two nights ago she opened her new Directorial offering “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” which is completely sold out and pretty much was when the tickets first went on sale. She has had rave reviews and write ups. She is a Theatre DAHHLING in Hong Kong, and yet she, and her extremely talented cast and crew, are doing the play more for love than any other reason. There just isn’t money in it.
For the amount of time (and talent) that these men and women poor into a project, it would be nice to think that they could make the leap from teachers and bankers and general managers (who act and sing and direct on the side) to full-blown Artists or Creatives or whatever you want to call yourself.
But the truth is, that funding in the arts and for creative enterprises is limited no matter where you go. Part of the reason I didn’t go back to Australia, and have decided to stay in North America, is the possibility and opportunities here. I was fortunate enough to work on a TV show when I was finishing my masters in Sydney, however the opportunity of a second season for that show dried up because of the way the Television industry operates down there. It is simply too expensive to make home-grown products. Most episodes and series are imported from the states as it is cheaper.
Lots of my young, energetic creative friends have moved to LA or New York to try and break into industries there where the market is bigger. And what a shame that they do. The UK, Australia, Hong Kong…these countries are losing some great talent to places that seem like Creative Mecca’s.
That’s not to say that there aren’t people battling it out on home ground, doing what they love, trying to see what happens. Some guys I worked with on the previously mentioned TV show, used crowd-funding to get some cash together to make a reality of a creative project of theirs “The Weatherman” which is going ahead in the next few months. But I know that for them it has been an uphill battle. I read some of their scripts while we would wait around like goons, and it is really funny, great stuff. Why shouldn’t it be made? And why shouldn’t they reap the benefits?
The Arts and Entertainment industry is often hard because it’s so competitive. It seems as though people are sometimes reluctant to help one another get that crucial foot in the door. It seems like once you’re in, you’re in, but that door is like the room of requirement at Hogwarts. You have to chant and chant what you want and hope that it materializes.
There is an element of being in the right place at the right time, of knowing the right people, of working hard, but for some it isn’t that easy. It is a difficult struggle to keep going, keep interning, keep writing, keep putting on shows, trekking to auditions practising, learning, all while trying to live everyday.
SO what am I getting at?
I guess I’m saying we all need to support the arts more. Go to plays, see up-and-coming bands, read each others work and give encouragement and feedback. And I guess I’m trying to say, keep going. If you are a creative person and thats what you want to do with your life, then go for it. Maybe things won’t turn out exactly as planned…Hey! That’s life and its a part of the journey, but Mama says:
If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.
So stick that up your ladder and deal with it!