This week has seen another blow. Less money going around means scratching and hustling is getting harder, the shoulders heavier, the pocket lighter. Things are precarious, teetering on the edge and like many working in the arts the pressure is beating down, a force pushing hard, trying to squash me into the ground. Making a living in the arts, (and I’m not talking about those in salaried positions) is really difficult. It takes guts, effort, stubbornness and an innate contrariness to get up every morning and make work, make space, make time to think, create, reflect and play. To do it time and time again and say, “no, I’m not giving up”, “no, I’m not going to stop”,” I can’t”, “not for you, not for anybody”. And then there comes a point when you realise you can’t stop.
Sometimes I feel that art making/living is propelling me through my life, an outside force over which I have little control. Hurtling me through space while I spend my time hoping it’ll stop, I’ll stop – just for a minute to catch my breath, “please, please let me stop” – at a standstill. That would be nice. A standstill. Where I’d watch everything go by me. For a change. But no I can’t. You see that’s the problem, I want to affect change, I must, I want to jump in, I must, it’s a compulsion, I must say my piece, make my mark on it, feel present, in the moment for a moment.
But it’s hard with taxes to pay, bills, rent, food, baby clothes. Somehow you have to make it work cursed as you are to eternally push your rock up the mountain like Sisyphus. I always tell people that the Celtic Tiger never really affected me. But now I realise that that’s not entirely true. Sure, I didn’t get the house, go on loads of holidays and I can still put all the clothes that fit me into a small paper bag but those around me have been greatly affected – the punters I relied on to come to the gigs, the shows, the events. They’ve now gone, nowhere to be seen, at home watching telly while the well is drying up. Venue owners can’t afford the risk, punters can’t pay for the ticket and the performers, designers, agents, managers and producers, etc (there’s alot of them out there) are left with nothing. The margins are tight and only getting tighter. So what to do in that narrow margin in which we eke out our living? What do we do as the air is sucked out and the light grows dimmer? The only thing we can do. Find a rich vein to mine; for new ideas, new ways of doing things, making, we must act, be part of the inevitability of change, shape it, mould it and create something new. And feel thankful for the small moments when things seem to slow down and you can catch your breath.
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