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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why It's Hard in the Arts

The New York Times had a fascinating article on the state of humanities in the middle class. Basically it is terrible. Writers, musicians, filmmakers, painters are in bad shape. It begins early in college when you decide to major in the humanities. Your starting salary is around 31k while someone in business is around 56k. And from there we go down hill. If you decide to become a writer lets say the odds you will make a living are very against you. So you decide to become a teacher or a professor.

Teaching in high school is all encompassing and so that leaves no time to write. Teaching in college is now an adjunct world. So you make no money. The few get tenure. So you take a low paying job you don't do well at because your heart is not in it. Compared to your business counterpart who likes making money and does much better. But you are an imposter looking for employment in a world that does not offer it.

I know that when I started out I worked sales jobs because they allowed me to write. I always got fired because they smelled a rat after a while and I moved on. The comparison to sports is apt here. Sports are subsidized in our country in a very large way through universities and cities and states. It is very acceptable to build stadiums and give Universities grants for sports. Try that with the arts and a mantra of 'get a job' rings in your ears. It is no wonder it is hard to survive say as a writer or an actor when the one percent rule is generous at best. A small group of people make all the money.

The article ends with saying  society needs the humanities and we should support our artists. I could not agree more but I don't see that happening...but at least someone wrote about it.

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Books by William Hazelgrove