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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Exposure versus Exposing (or why can't I buy bread with exposure...?)

Roxana Haines - 16 January 2017

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EXPOSURE (the session)
Called by Roxana Haines with Ben, Emma and then later Naomi and Josh.

I called this session because it had previously made me very angry. It had only occurred to me once I was in the D&D12 room though that I was still angry, and that this subject was still alive inside me. Just because now I've stopped accepting ‘exposure’ as a good enough term for me to do work for other people for free, doesn't mean I'm not still passionate about it, nor does it mean that I'm okay that other people are potentially being exposed by it.

First I was joined by Ben and Emma (one a recent graduate and one still at university) and we spoke about exposure as something transactional, something with value that is exchanged. We all agree that this takes two forms: when it is fair, and when it is not.

Ben commented that to participate in the arts fresh out of uni you're inevitably going to face these kinds of exchanges in opportunity. But he also said that all this really requires is ‘hope and optimism’. And that we're lucky if we participate in an equal exchange.

There are equal exchanges, where the exposure offered is in equal measurement - one hour stewarding in exchange for watching a one hour show - or of a similar agreement… The value of what's on offer is equal for both the ‘giver’ and the ‘receiver’ in the exchange.

But there are many examples where we take advantage of ourselves or let organisations do this to us because that's what we think happens. Because that's how it is, and we still believe that there's something greater at the end of it for us by working 20 hour days for no pay or reward or even sometimes gratitude.

This is pretty much the point where Ben and Emma become bees and I hope glide to pollenate these thoughts in other conversations. I'm left with my own company, in my own smaller community admist the buzz of the larger community of D&D. I have space and time to address this issue that is still clearly alive in me. Thank you D&D.

I want to know why in the worse situations (when this exchange is unequal) why does this thought of exposure still sound more appealing than staying at home in bed?

Because the value in the latter is small. Really though?
The chances are you're an artist who's been busting a gut for that last few months (okay, okay, years) and that you're exhausted. You deserve the time to stop and breathe. So sure, maybe we're programmed to believe that the value of rest is small because we're HASHTAG addicted to theatre, or because we glorify being busy, but the chances are your body and mind will thank you for a morning off and a cup of tea in bed. (HASHTAG selflove).

(TBC…)
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