Working in the arts – the day job!


Working in the arts really does have massive ups and downs. You can be performing on stage in front of 2,000 people one night and literally the following day be back in your day job washing dishes to pay the bills.

So many people have messaged us about doubting their own talent, saying that they have given up on their dream because it can never happen and feeling like they have failed – an opinion exasperated by the fact they now have a very unglamorous day job.

The stereotype of the aspiring actress, working nights in a restaurant is well-known. What is less known is that many of today’s leading men and women have to take on such work in between shows. And it’s REALLY hard. The world of musical theatre is tough. Not helped by the fact many of the general public can’t appreciate that it is possible to be highly talented and work in Starbucks. The culture of Britain’s Got Talent has given the idea that such talent hanging around behind the counter of Gregg’s is a rarity and must be plucked out of obscurity. But it really is not. Amazing talent surrounds us every day and should never be underestimated.
For example in 2007, internationally acclaimed virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell went and played in a D.C Metro Station. See for yourself how much interest people paid him:ΒΒ Money wise he earnt $32 for his 45 minute performance.

For four and half years I worked for the Wales Millennium Centre which is an incredible theatre in Wales. I have some very memorable times and something that I will never forget is the incredible talent that existed amongst the theatre staff. On any given night the front of house team alone consisted of writers, actors, singers, comedians and musicians. Some of who, have gone on to be very successful in their fields whilst others are waiting patiently for their next opportunity.

Every night whilst working as a Front of House Manager, part of my job was to go down to the stage and give clearance for the show to start. As I did that, I never felt so far away from my dream – being stood literally a few feet away from where the performance was taking place and yet having had no part in the creative process of that show.

All of us have had to or continue to hold down second jobs and pursue our dreams as and when we can – but this in no way makes anyone less talented. Luck has so much to do with it but hardwork gives you the best possible chance. Never ever doubt that you are good enough and give it everything you have. It is never to late and you can do it!


36 thoughts on “Working in the arts – the day job!

  1. Thought-provoking blog – thanks for writing and sharing. Hope you don’t mind, I shared it on the forum and asked the question ‘what is most important, talent or hard work?’ Look forward to your next installment.

  2. Brilliant and very thought-provoking. I think many artists would have a tale or two to tell if they were asked, and I have the utmost respect for anyone who will give anything a try to earn a crust to enable them to pursue a dream. Anyone fortunate enough to know you two will be given the best opportunity to soar, but it will be hard work and if they are prepared to put in the effort then they will get the reward, and well deserved too πŸ™‚ xx

  3. Really enjoyed reading the blog, and found it very informative. I now understand how you and other performers seem to give your time to people like myself, who are so curious as to how you are where you are today. I have only been a twitter user for a short time, and never in my wildest dreams, would I have thought that such talented people would reply to me.
    Thank you, and everybody who entertains me, and thank you for your hard work and dedication.x

  4. You never cease to amaze me. How we take things for granted! I love d reading this blog, so educational. I know the industry is so hard and competitive. I was with a musical theater group when I was a child up until my teenage years. The thrill and excitement it gives you is unbelievable!! Now I get a thrill and excitement going to the theater. Thanks again

  5. I am embarking on my dream of being a singer but you got to pay the bills and speculate to accumulate to get demos, photos etc done – but it will be worth it in the end! Great blog thanks.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really found it very moving. I admire anyone with the courage to follow a dream. Just think of how much talent we could have missed if some of today’s artists had given up. Please keep on striving and hopefully luck and hard work will be with you.

    • I often think about that and just how many people are out there who just never gave it a go. I am sure there are many people out there who could equal the brightest of stars but for through a number of circumstances it just never happened. Thank you very much πŸ™‚

  7. For a senior in university preparing to graduate, this is an enlightening read. It’s a great reminder that following one’s passion is worth all the hard work along the way. Thanks for an honest and encouraging post!

  8. Makes we want to put on my “Mommy Hat”…most of these wonderful artist’s are either my own son’s age or younger…I can’t help wanting to make it “okay”, but since I can’t, I’ll continue to support them by purchasing their albums, or singles…no better feeling than knowing you’re in some small way supporting the future of great music!

  9. An inspiring piece to both educate and inspire! Thank you for sharing this with those of us who struggle to pursue a dream in the midst of a poor economic reality.

  10. I was just thinking about this the other day. I’m currently volunteering at Opera on Sydney Harbour and a lot of the “behind the scenes” staff are aspiring or actual performers. I wondered about the Opera Australia chorus too – I think they are all on contract and I imagine have to audition for each opera. Yes, they’ve made it up there with some of the best, but I bet in order to survive this is not the only way they earn money. If I get a chance I will ask.

    As for you and Laura, Dan, you continue to amaze me. I wish I had half your energy and commitment! If anyone is looking for inspiration on how to succeed with hard work and determination, then they would do well to take it from you two! You deserve all the support you receive and more. I wish you both success in everything you do. xx

    • Thanks Joan πŸ™‚ it is so lovely to have your support.

      When I worked at Wales Millennium Centre I used to know a lot of the members of Welsh National Opera. So would be on full time contracts, others were paid for a few shows a year and others were on as and when contracts. It is so so true that just by being part of an amazing company like that the next week you could be out looking for work. It is one of the things about the arts that people very rarely think about.

      Thanks again for your lovely comments.

      Speak to you very soon, take care of yourself xx

  11. Pingback: Working in the arts – the day job! | The Ramblings of a Scottish Aussie

  12. Loved this post and it really resonated with me. As an actress and writer just starting out you’re pretty much expected to work for free while earning a living somewhere else, mostly outside the industry which is disheartening. It’s sad when people give up on their dreams and I know people who have done just that in order to work a dead end job to make ends meet.

    • So so true! it’s sad that people give up often at the first sign of trouble. Just by sticking with it you have outdone 99% of the people who want a career in the arts. It is one of the hardest careers in the World but you can make a success of it. I wish you all the very best for the future and thanks for reading x

  13. A very good post. I sit in the seat thinking about how many talented people have toiled to entertain me, right down to people who show you were to sit, or sell the programs.
    I never check to see who is in the starring role, as I think that the standard in the West End is so high, I leave the theatre buzzing anyway.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, and helping to put the pieces into the jigsaw. It really is helpful.

    I really love Mario Lanza, and have done since being a little girl:)

  14. Really like the blog, as it is like an insight as to how you think.
    I really agree about making a day for somebody by being encouraging, I think that Richard Burton did a lovely thing in taking time for Kevin Costner, he really could have just turned away, but didn’t.

    I have had a piano from the age of 6, he was called George also, and I can’t read music. I find it hard to learn, as I tend to look at music as resembling maths:( So I think that you have done brilliantly to persevere. I don’t think that Elton John can read music either, and doesn’t do too bad.

    I think that you both have the magic touch, and I am so glad for that, as it has kept me entertained for hours.
    Glad that George has found a place in your heart, good music never dies.x

    • Thanks Ann πŸ™‚ Richard certainly didn’t need to do what he did and maybe Kevin wouldn’t have bothered pursuing his dream with that. Amazing you had a piano named George as well. Reading music is a pain but you might be shocked to know that not many professional singers read the notes. Follow dots for going up and down but not actually being able to read x

  15. I think that we can sometimes live in a bubble, and forget to look outside of it.
    There is a big beautiful world out there, that can influence everything that we do.
    Your weekend sounds like you had a nice diversion from work, though I doubt if you ever switch off totally. To enjoy the work that you do, must be reward in itself. Keep on enjoying your work:)
    As I enjoy the results:) Thank you.

  16. Loving this Dan, as it is like my past mirrored.

    I had a portable record player, which I would take to school at 6am, the caretaker would let me sit in the library, as he lit the school boiler. The LP I took with me was ‘Mario Lanza’s Greatest Hits.:)
    I think that my favourite track was ‘Beloved’. See I remembered not to forget.:) Thanks for the memory jog:)

    • I cannot tell you how much I love Beloved πŸ™‚ the hours I spent listening to that. Really very special memories! memories jogs every now and again are always good. Speak soon xx

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