Creating for a living but only little. How can I find the help to grow and not die? 

Convener(s): Jennifer E Jordan

Participants: Tom, Wendy, Amy, Mark, other drifters whose names I did not grab (sorry about that!)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:


To not die physically

  • When starting out, you generally cannot rely on your creative art to support you. You do need another job!! This does not have to be unrelated though. Sign up to Arts Jobs mailing list, try teaching workshops in your field, surf the web!
  • Contact your local arts council. Even if they can’t give you money at the particular time you are contacting them, they will often give you advice.
  • Have a look at festivals & cabaret evenings, sometimes they can pay just a little.

To not die artistically

  • Don’t stop! One problem many people seem to be facing is the fear of skills you have learnt and your creative energy withering. We all seem to be crying out for a supportive artistic community, an outlet to keep playing and sharing and testing. There are people who seem to be setting these sorts of things up such as War Horse Theatre Works and Residence. Meeting up regularly with other artists to play with them or to them and just a general support network being generated in your local area is the best way to keep your creative flame alive. If nothing like this seems to exist where you are, set something up! But most of all do not stop, as things will fade with time.
  • Go out and find people a bit different form you and work with them for a bit. Get new perspectives and don’t get stuck in your own rut.
  • We need a safe space to play in and we need to be ready to fail in this safe space with supportive people. The only way of doing this though is through communication. We need to talk to people and make links, otherwise we will never know there are other people out there who also want this community and would make an effort to make it happen.
  • There seems to be a lot of talking about big issues. We need to address things one step at a time and actively. Instead of talking, do something! Take a risk, talk to someone, be cheeky, try something you think might work but weren’t sure enough about to do. You can improve your situation by looking at the next step, instead of the whole problem. And actions speak louder than words.
  • Something that seems to have come across through all the discussions I have attended is the need for socialising and interaction with other artists. We are social beings and flourish greatly just from being in the same building as other people who are working. 

Getting out there

  • Attend events as much as you can. Get your face seen. You need to be visible and have a presence in your local area. Don’t allow yourself to get apathetic or lazy. Staying in watching TV won’t get you anywhere. Doing nothing does nothing. Doing something does something, even if it’s not what you meant to do.
  • Shmoozing is rubbish. Talk to people, but just be yourself. Everyone out there is a person doing a job just like you and there’s no reason to be scared of them.
  • Talk to people and do be cheeky. Ask or you will never get. If you are irritating someone they will let you know, but it’s surprising what can happen. If someone says ‘no’, you are no worse off than before you asked, you are just in the same place. If they say ‘yes’, you’ve moved and grown just a little bit! Either way you are alive and making sure people know you’re alive, so there’s no worry about ceasing to exist. But you need to keep it going. Again, the motto is: DON’T STOP!

Being little and needing help

  • This creative work is such a huge overpowering thing in our lives, but sometimes when it is put into the grand scheme of life or 20 people turn up to a show you’ve worked on for a year we all feel very very small. Which is weird…We aren’t as supported in our work as lawyers, which is why we need to create our own support by networking and starting up community groups etc.
  • There are development agencies set up and funded to help emerging artists. Find out where your nearest one is and use them! You are the reason they exist and you are the people they want to help.
  • Contact other theatre companies or venues and ask for a chat. They might say yes. There is a lot of generosity within this area and people normally do want to help, as it means you value their opinion. Flattery might get you somewhere! You are asking them because you think they are all knowledgeable and stuff. People like feeling knowledgeable J
  • Keep in touch with people you’ve met this weekend. They are all devoted and/or disgruntled, like you and will probably be willing to have a rant or listen to one or help depending on your situation. We have a common goal and just knowing that other people exist who have come along this weekend is a big comfort. None of us are alone, and we shouldn’t ostracize ourselves but make links to help us remember how ‘not alone’ we are.