I think about this all the time….what would it be like to stop working in the arts?
I think about how hard it would be to transition away from the industry that I love and in which I have pursued graduate study. I think about how much I would miss artists and arts administrators, who have been my colleagues for so many years. It would break my heart to leave the arts behind, after working for so many years to support amazing theater artists and dancers and storytellers through my producing work and artists who participated in the professional development activities at my (second to) last job. They were the reason to do this work, them and the creative work they do. I love theater, dance, public art, performance, documentary film…so many different forms that I deeply care about and would love to continue to help to create (or create for the first time).
And then I think, but you are all the same people and organizations that have frustrated me for so long, and whose values don’t always align with mine. I think about the long hours, the low pay, the lack of opportunity for advancement and recognition. The thanklessness. The yelling. The crying. The manipulation. The personal attacks. The burnout.
Then I start to worry:
- I worry about how hard it is to convince people that your skills are transferable
- I worry that I will hate working outside the arts (I have in the past had an “arts-adjacent” day job that was uninspiring at best)
- I worry that I will lose my drive and commitment to the non-profit sector and to service, which has always been a major motivator for me
- I worry that I can’t get on board with for profit companies, and my lack of commitment would be too painfully clear
- I worry that it could be the same, or worse, is the corporate world, but without the mission to fall back on as a motivator
It has become clear to me that I probably need to stay in the arts and find the right place to work! It’s not The Arts that are irreparably broken, though there are certainly systematic problems with human resources, management and leadership that need to be addressed.
I have had a couple of very bad experiences, and that this should not indicate a pattern, but rather a pattern of bad luck. I am attracted to smaller organization and attracted to trying to make sense of chaos, this clearly leads me to troubled organizations and people. I love avant-garde work so it makes sense that this would invite a certain amount of craziness. The odds are higher than they are for someone working as an actuary, or a gardener, or even a producer of tamer theater.
I probably need to work somewhere a little bigger, but not too big. A little less experimental, but not too staid. Let’s hope I can find that place, or that they can find me!