Paula Varjack, 25 January 2015

I am exploring this question as research for show I am developing. If you are

interested in other questions around this theme, or want to be part of my research,

please check out my development blog


I felt like this topic was present in the themes of many other sessions around money

and the arts. This was great as it meant it could build on conversations that had

happened through out the weekend.

The session became very dynamic as many different people at different career stages

and aspects of the industry dropped in. Somehow we still seemed to share similar

sentiments. It got particularly animated towards the end as we began to discuss long

term aims of financial stability, which was also the theme of an earlier session.

the conversation. started around the idea of funding schemes for “emerging” artists

If you are looking for funding as an “emerging” artist most schemes are designed for

people under age thirty, rather than taking account of the amount of time one has

been making work.

This is problematic if you are like two of the participants aged 30 and emerging. One

participant who is studying performance at the age of thirty expressed concerns of

how to build a career for herself as an artist when because of her age she didn't fit into

the category for those seeing emerging work.

A participant who was a producer spoke of how her role was completely related to

whether she was able to fundraise, so had a direct relation to value of her work. She

also said she didn't understand why performers self produce, as not having a producer

puts considerable strain on the production creatively, and also affects how and if funds

are raised or successfully applied for. It is another role for a reason.

another participant who is part of an established company, spoke of how a turning

point for her company had been when they found a producer for their work. this was

after a year of being a company. The company then was new and had no track record

although the director and writer were established in their careers independently.

She had found their producer via an ad in arts jobs, specifying that their fee would

depend on funding for the project. She then built a successful and long term

relationship with the producer. She advised emerging practitioners and companies to

do the same. Either through arts council arts jobs and/or stage one.

She said you did not need to find a producer with a track record necessarily as even

an arts graduate or performer with an interest in producing could be a great support

that one could mentor through taking on producer tasks, and build skills to be more


I expressed concern that having self produced and with previous experience of

producing in film, that someone with no experience may not be so helpful and perhaps

create more work. The participant then made the case that like any mentoring, initially

someone may need more guidance but with time would need less and less and be

more of a support.

The participant who is studying mentioned how building this kind of relationship with a

mentor could foster loyalty for a long term working relationship.

The participant who is a producer said that if you had experience producing and were

not ready to fully hand over the reigns to someone else, it was very important when

you advertise to say you are seeking an associate or co-producer and credit as such.

This was to make it clear how the role would be shared.

One participant was visiting from the Netherlands, she is a theatre maker and drama

teacher. She said when she graduated from drama school she did a lot of work for

free, because she was new to the field and needed to get experience. She soon

stopped this realising it was unsustainable.

We compared the process of applying for funding in the U.k. to applying for funding in

the netherlands. She raised an interesting point that often as practitioners we are too

focused on local and national funding, forgetting about EU funding, and international

programming at theatres and festivals across europe (for example the Netherlands)

She wrote a list which I will add later.

Several people joined at this point. One participant who had been an actor and now

works in theatre, alongside facilitating and work for equity. We started to unpick the

idea of “value” related to making a living. This also led to an idea of “value” being

related to validation. He raised a great question

“How much is it about the money I get, and about which body is giving the money?”

This was a new thought I had not considered. He said for example you might not feel

great about getting funding for BP even if it was a sizable ammount. This raised the

point that it was more about the stamp of approval from a body deemed relevant.

Another participant then went further into the subject of this stamp of approval. The

arts council logo on a flyer would not mean much to a producer, programmer or

audience member. The thing industry would pay attention to is what venue was

programming the show, while an audience member would maybe be more interested

in if they had heard about the company or perfomer through television or radio, or if an

art going crowd, also because of a relationship to a venue.

this then led to a conversation about how our sense of value as artists relates to being

programmed by a venue we are interested in. One participant said that she used to

take it personally when certain venues would not program her work, but has gotten

over that and recognizes it as a question of programmers taste. she advised other

artist to do the same.

one producer spoke of a venue that had a good relationship with a company who had

scratched a piece in the venue. The producer had thought the venue would put some

money into the final production. the venue programmed the piece but did not offer any

financial support. The producer admitted that she felt slighted by this. that if the venue

believed so much in the work and the company, why would they not even give a small

sum of money?

I then spoke of in-kind funding being potentially of a higher value in london as

rehearsal space for example was so expensive.. i questioned if this was a similar issue

in the regions and an artist in newcastle said that rehearsal space was also expensive.

maybe everywhere in the uk it is the same. ( anyone reading this want to comment?)

however she said her company spent the first years doing a lot of fund raising and

match funding alongside in kind support.

There was then a conversation of who gets funding and why, and how some felt that

there were many companies, practiioners, and works that were not thought to be of

great artistic merit, but got funding because either the applicants were good at

application writing or because they ticked the right boxes. this led some to feel that

having funding was no real sign of artistic merit of the artist or project.

One participant ran an annual festival that regularly receives funding for ticking

diversity boxes, however he stressed that though they do continue to get funding,

there is a cap on how much they can apply for and they are told as much. this means

the festival cannot expand how it programs work.

There was then talk about the role of equity and how many felt it was a powerless

entity in that it could not enforce or regulate what people in the field are paid.

as the conversation came to a close we spoke about the notion of what you do for a

living becoming more and more connected to your sense of identity. That what you do

is who you are. However we saw this as tricky with our field, and in this time for two


The artistic act also being a compulsion (and undervalued as a craft) there will always

be people who work for little or no money, there will always be venues/producers who

expect artists to work for little or no money.

the current economic landscape means that people across all sectors are having a

hard time finding work. it is not simply the case that you study your passion, work hard

and get a job in it any more, in every industry. this was likened by one as the failure of


unfortunately there was also a sense that getting paid for what you do was a way to

prove to our parents or other doubters of creative practice that what we do was a

profession and not a hobby.

on the positive side one participant said, that if you are struggling to survive as an

artist/receive funding, monetise your craft, the thing to do is identify why you are not

successful in applications, what boxes you are not ticking, where in your skillset

(logistics, production rather than creative) are you lacking and how can you improve or

even better, WHO can you get to support you in those areas.

I will end the report with one statement by a participant that really resonated

“I don't want to get famous. I just want to make a living. I want to be brave enough to

have a family. I don't want to live off the state”

many people came through the session. here' s the ones i managed to get names


Rob Calvatos

David Cottis

Olivia A

Frances Ritkin


art, Money, value, fees, Fundin, #Illshowyoumine, #illshowyoumine, Fees, Value,

money, ART, Art, ART, economics, Economics