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Between You and Me

Except for a lucky few, it’s hard to make a living in the arts world. But if not for fame or profit, why do so many people choose a life in the arts? Myles, a struggling (if not starving) actor, explains what’s in it for him.

I live two lives. By day I work as a sales assistant or ‘consultant’ for a rather large company that produces some wonderful products. By night however, I have been many things… a chained patient in the dim cells of a bygone French mental institution, a Machiavellian nobleman driven by ambition, an Australian soldier caught in the grips of a fearful wheat-induced trip. People often ask what it is I do for work. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a jack of all trades, but my profession is split fairly evenly between the creative world of performance and the service world of retail IT (another kind of performance, some might say). In fewer words, I’m an actor.

A short phrase, easy to say. For many years I wasn’t quite sure whether I lived up to it. Surely one has to be doing the thing they say they are for it to be true. Yet for many people in the Arts, doing that thing, whether it be acting, music or dance, is difficult. Often arts practitioners are working less than admirable jobs and receiving less than ideal income so that they can keep themselves available for work. The real work that they constantly seek to do — the work that defines them. Not only is the work hard to come by, the practice of that art is crucial and time consuming. Despite the difficulties, there are thousands of other people who crave a creative life, who earnestly study an art with bright eyes and hopeful hearts that their life may be like the people’s on stage or screen that inspire them to chase their dreams. For the lucky few the dream becomes real, but for the rest of us, we just keep carrying on.

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