Feb
06

Starving Artists

On Sunday January 28th in the Arts Section of the Chicago Tribune the first of a two part series ran on how much actors and musicians get paid.  I was very disheartened to read freelance writer, Nina Metz’s, article. As a creative writer, an artist herself, I guess I expected her take to be more positive then opening with ” No one one works in theater to get rich. Every performer understands this going in.”

Why is it such a forgone conclusion that it is impossible to make a decent living wage doing something creative that you love? 

Perhaps the rules of how we, as artists, view the arts first needs to change, for others to see us differently. 

While the economic realities of theater and music and the venues actors and musicians perform in might dictate lower wages, hardly do either musicians or actors need to depend on these solely as either the measure of their artistic worth or to pay their rent. 

The article, by Nina Metz went on, in my opinion, to disgrace some fine actors by revealing how they could barely afford to exist in Chicago, while many of them are performing in Chicago’s major performing venues like The Goodman Theater, Steppenwolf and Second City.  How she could write this article and not offer a bright beacon of light to those who have developed artistically and found creative and financial success on their own paths in their own way, while still retained their love for theater and music, is something she should be ashamed of not representing.

If we keep reinforcing through our words that the arts are full of starving artists, then guess what?

Pretty soon the arts will die from anorexia. Choose to place a higher value on creativity and you will attract those that will pay a higher price for it. Corporate America is championing creativity as the path to growth, profits and start up success according to writers like Richard Florida. Why can’t artists, and creative writers like Nina Metz, feel the same way about what we as artists are capable of achieving? 

It may not be at The Goodman, Steppenwolf or Second City, but if you use your creativity and gifts, and creatively build a life on your terms, financial success CAN follow. No one ever got rich working a J.O.B; and that is what The Goodman, Steppenwolf and Second City represent. After-all these venues are their creators creative vision, and those they hire will never profit immensely from it. No different then any big corporation anywhere in the world. That’s why those who take risks, and apply their creativity, inside the artistic world or outside of it in corporate america, reap the benefit. 

This series in The Tribune could have been a much more valuable insightful interesting series, both for artists, and for the general public who pays to experience what artists have to offer.

  • She said nobody goes in to get RICH. I believe many can and do make a decent living, but RICH?

  • I think creative artistry should be able to create more than comfort but wealth! The application of creativity is what creates wealth and artistic artistry should have, in my opinion, a leg up on developing highly innovative creative models of wealth. But we need to teach artists to have vision and the skill sets to create this kind of model…

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