Boris Says Retrain? Why A Creative Career Is Never An Either/Or Commitment

If you’re living in the UK (or even Ireland) there’s no way you’ve missed the recent advice from the Tory government.

If you’re an artist, you should step into this post-covid world by retraining in a new industry.

How do you know what industry would be right for you? The government website has a handy quiz you can take to find out EXACTLY which would be right for you - how considerate.

Apparently, I’m suited to being a magistrate, film critic or payroll officer. Who knew!

Quite rightly, there’s been a fair amount of backlash over this. What message does this send to the creative industries? That we’re unviable, unnecessary and a drain on the country's resources?

What baffles most people who actually work in these industries - artists, like you and me - is that we know this is total bullsh*t. In fact, the creative industries rake in more for the UK economy now than agriculture according to an Arts Council England 2019 study.

And yet, we are consistently told by this government (and possibly our parents, grandparents, teachers and friends) that we should do something ‘sensible’ instead.

On the flipside, we artists bust our little hearts out creating, building, sharing, performing in the hope that we can, despite the odds, carve out a viable career doing what we love and what we know makes this crazy world make sense.

We often tell ourselves that we have ‘2 years to make it’ or that ‘we’re can only call ourselves a professional if we earn ALL your income from our art’. This sets up a very unhelpful ‘all or nothing’ perspective on our own creativity.

But I want to offer a different perspective.

What if a career in the arts really doesn’t (and never did) mean choosing to either be a ‘successful’ artist or a ‘sensible’ member of society? What if a career in the arts was more flexible, responsive and integrated than that?

You see, in reality, artists and people working in the creative industries have already mastered a career model that MOST ‘normal’ people are now having to adopt: a ‘portfolio career’.

The days of a secure, dependable and permanent job are a distant memory in many sectors. If the future is anything like the last decade, the most sustainable and ‘sensible’ strategy is to have more than one source of income, and more than one professional role.

So, I say retrain if you want to - I am a firm believer in lifelong learning - but don’t let yourself (or the government) fool you into thinking that this would ever mean turning your back on your career as an artist.

You ARE an artist, no matter what else you do.

You CAN make a sustainable income in the arts and this CAN sit alongside other professional roles simultaneously if need be.

This is not an either/or choice - it’s about adapting and responding in ways that support you.

And in doing so, we can all support each other.

I don’t think i’ll be retraining to become a magistrate, and the idea of forging a career as a film critic feels pretty exhausting. For now, I’ll keep providing resources, experiences and support for women in music.

But I’m open to a portfolio of directions in 2020 and beyond… and none of them will ever stop me being a creative artist.

PS: If THIS is the time you want to finally start recording your music (even if you’re retraining in cyber) check out my FREE 3-Step Guide to Sound Treating your Recording Space >>

You never know, it just might help you also forge your new career in broadcast journalism...

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