As a result of the past year and the tragic repercussions on the arts there have been two significant changes regarding artists and entrepreneurship, the artists who are becoming entrepreneurs and the artists who are now running themselves as a business. Both seem to be a direct result of either the live space of which they work or perform closing, or the lack of exposure and funds for people to appreciate their art.
The fine arts have taken a huge hit especially being one of the most under supported sectors globally. I personally am an exception to the rule in my space being employed by a German state theatre, I still have a contract and a salary but many do not. The reality most have faced is go home and keep up the good work until we can hire you again. In an already oversaturated sector with severely lacking opportunities even pre-pandemic, I see it being many years before we can see the kind of employment we used to.
Regarding my point of artists running themselves as a business being pretty self explanatory as to why, whether part of a large company or freelance you are the CEO of you. However this is a notion that few individuals have realised in the past, it took a pandemic to launch artists into the realisation that you are or what you produce as an artist are your product or service and should be treated as such.
Whether that’s networking and building industry connections or marketing and pitching yourself. For a long while it has no longer been enough to just be good at what you do or even exceptional, you need to be smart at what you do, thinking strategically about where you place yourself and when. This being all the more important now that the richly dense Curriculum Vitae’s are now all unemployed and back on the market.
Exploring the artists becoming entrepreneurs, as an artist myself the reason I spanned into business in recent years was to combat the early retirement I will inevitably face due to the physical nature of classical ballet resulting in unemployment.
The benefits of which are astronomical for an artist, going to university at 35 is not the only way to gain new skills and a new career path not to mention the flexibility and freedom in your location and your ability to turn down exploitative jobs.
If the worlds top artists are having to pack up shop from the big cities in which they reside and move home to their families, it begs the question why in such flippant industries one would have all their eggs in one basket to begin with. The term ‘struggling artist’ didn’t come from nowhere and the need for residual income is one that artists are no stranger to. I came to the conclusion very early on that being a waitress was not the only way i could support myself financially during my off season.
Although starting a business in the current state of affairs globally is contradictory to the economic environment that one would usually choose to, artists’ creativity, resilience and tenacity lends them perfectly with Entrepreneurship.
The life lessons gained from being in a highly competitive profession with little help from such a young age rewards you with experience and maturity that places you well beyond your years and artists generally have the creative foresight to translate that to other challenges they might be facing. Equally there are very few setbacks or criticisms that would be as bad or as personal as what they have already taken on the chin therefore their resilience will never come into question.
Let’s see if they are here to stay or perhaps it has just been to fill a void for their otherwise incapacitated creative outlets.