Earning money v making theatre. How do we do both?

Liz Hague, 1 July 2012

Fran Harvard, Jesse Meadows, Hannah Drake, Alison Farina, Shane, Ali Campbell, Andy Burden, Roland Oliver

If making theatre has involved lots of profit share and voluntary work can you still continue this and have a family?

Living with parents can help but the possibility of having a family and buying a house drifts away. There has to be compromise, but do you compromise your family life or your theatre. Can you make theatre if you are not able to give 100% of yourself?

Noticed at this point that there were only women in this discussion group - it was suggested that men were less concerned with this issue. Do women feel it is their responsibility/issue when it comes to combining family and theatre?

Can we split ourselves 3 ways, making theatre/earning money/family life? Or will we compromise all 3 by doing this?

In other industries people train and then expect a job which can sustain them. Why in theatre do we expect to make no money and why do we accept it? We accept a life of juggling. Is this because we gain such job satisfaction from the arts?

Is theatre considered less important because it does not last? It is ephemeral?

Because we are always told the arts are not important? Because it doesn't affect enough people? Or simply due to lack of funds?

Could 6 years of working in profit share etc.. be likened to the 6 years training you may do to become a doctor?

(Note: men joined the conversation and disagreed with earlier statement!) People feeling lucky if they make their money through theatre. Are there too many theatre people who don't own their own houses? Do they care? Do we accept that we earn less than others because we love what we do? In some countries artists get a yearly wage to be a practitioner even though they might not be working full time.

The theatre world needs to think of itself as an industry and do more to help new people join. More government schemes like young directors. But the age old problem of population increase makes this difficult.

As a freelancer you can only take on freelance contracts. If you combine different jobs, will you ever be successful at any of them? You need to be honest. You need to commit.

Jobs constantly start and finish in the theatre world which can cause anxiety but also we must see the joys of flexibility. As a mother, I only received statutory maternity pay but now there is no one telling me when I have to go back to work. Yes I have to find this work myself but I have choices to work 2 days a week? Evenings only? No early mornings? Working in the arts may not present you with a straight career trajectory, a ladder to climb but we like to think of it more as a labyrinth to twist and turn through.


Theatre, family, money, expectations, acceptance, earning, freelancing, combining, theatre