No Artists Need Apply – The reality of jobs in the Arts

Making a living as an artist can be hard. I remember a conversation with journalist Donald Clarke many years ago about this. In his inimitable way he made the comment “You don’t see many ads in the paper do you? You know, Wanted: Novelist. No Magical Realists need apply”.  The truth is that there are no jobs for artists. Never have been and probably never will be. Artists make stuff: stories, sounds, shapes, performances. If that stuff has perceived value for somebody else then they can make a living from it. If it doesn’t then they can’t. It’s that simple. The argument that the arts needs more funding ignores the fact that the funding bodies are essentially customers. They will give money for that which they perceive has value in terms of their personal and institutional needs and preferences. The greatest challenge facing many artists is accepting that if they want their work to be sustainable and financially rewarding they have to sell it. They have to find a way of creating work that others perceive as valuable without compromising their own values. Like it or not, the artist is in business.

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