Being an artist under a Coalition Government

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Sometimes, I like to talk to young professional friends about what a career in theatre is like. It’s illuminating to share experiences with them, and hear what their own career conditions are like. They talk about occasionally frustrating workmates, unimpressive pay at first, but a sense of ascension. Building up. Gaining more recognition with more experience.

 

When I tell them about a career in the arts, their response tends to be a mixture of envy and shock. Envy that we have a career where we can wear what we want, express our selves, be iconoclastic, create new things. Shock around the lack of progression, our state of being at the mercy of knee-jerk political whims, and most gravely, about the financial recognition.

 

There is particular shock around the idea of unpaid work. That we might work for months on a project, the amount of hours equivalent to a full time job, but those hours stolen from gaps where we should be sleeping, exercising, or seeing our loved ones. They are shocked to hear we might take away a few hundred dollars – if we’re lucky – from an experience like that. These friends come and see our work and are impressed by the display of deepening skill, a firmer sense of expression, and a burgeoning talent, all done in stolen hours where those who work a 9-6 might choose to pursue other things. We’re lucky this is our passion. But the fact also hurts us.

 

This week, I found out that a show I’ve been waiting to produce in Melbourne since I moved here is being canned. The company can’t afford it. They promised us the slot; they’ve now retracted that promise. If you’re wondering what it feels like: it’s like being dumped. The same erosion of self-esteem, the same fear of never getting back up again, the same flatness, depression, and creative numbness.

 

It is a great privilege to have your job be your passion, but it is utterly annihilating when your job exists in a climate and country that does not value your work. It makes you wonder if you have wasted your life. It is a truly awful feeling.

 

I am lucky to work in the youth arts sector, in addition to the independent theatre sector. Youth Arts is one of the few places that has reasonable funding. This doesn’t apply across the board. The current funding model from national bodies like Australia Council for the Arts have rewarded some companies and cut the funding of others, entirely at the discretion of the Arts Minister. I cherish the work I’ve been able to do in youth arts environments: helping young people tell stories, writing them plays that they can perform and deepen their skills by doing, and giving voice to the beauty of their difference. I would never have been able to do this work without my experience in the independent theatre sector. Similarly, if I ever ascend up the hypothetical escalator into the plush (but just as jittery) environs of main stage theatre, it would be my independent experience that has made me worthy of the job.

 

The Liberal Government is enacting a kneecapping of the independent sector in a way that ensures there will be no future artists of quality. If there are any left after the recent demolition, they will only be the ones who can afford to fund their own ascension. The rest of us will have given up. Found less-creative less-passionate jobs, but ones that reward us for our hard-earned work ethic, problem-solving capacity, and teamwork.

 

Funding the independent arts sector is the only way to ensure that we have artists who can graduate to main stage theatres. Imagine an Education Minister who closes down all schools and wonders why university applicants can’t read.

 

Please show that you stand with the arts this election. You can sign this petition, you can speak to your local Member of Parliament about this, or you can vote out the Coalition Government on July 2nd. You can share this post with people who might want to know more about these issues, and spread the word outside my bubble of arts people.

Thank you for reading.

Buffets

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You know those topics that you just assume you’ve written about at least once per year in the last 5.5 years of having a glamorous “Hot or Not” blog?

You know that feeling when you sift through said 5.5 years of archives and realise you have NEVER actually written about that thing? The feeling is shock and a need to remedy things, stat.

You know how sifting through archives allows you to start making thematic connections between the sorts of things you tend to write about, and in particular, the things you tend to (this blog, after all, being called Would Jess Like It) like?

I have found a pattern and it is: DOGS and FOOD.

Today’s post will be focused on food. Right now, food is at the forefront of my mind, because I am still recovering from a food incident that happened almost a week ago, and that incident is called: “two all-you-can-eat buffets in the space of 14 hours”.

 

Let’s rewind. For my 30th birthday this year, my beautiful friends (who know exactly what sort of things I like and dislike) got me a present that Jess Would Like. It combined all my favourite things: plush naps, abundant food, floral room fragrances, and strong women pulverising my muscles. That’s right: it was a 5 star hotel and spa voucher for a deluxe room, an incredible deep tissue massage from a woman with no mercy, and – not just one, but TWO – buffet meals.

I timed this birthday present with my boyfriend’s birthday to lessen the blow of no longer being nominally two years older than him, which was my favourite fact about our relationship to drop at social engagements and dog parks.

We had a 7.30pm dinner buffet and a 9.30am breakfast buffet, and I am still recovering. The whole situation reminded me of an important fact: you don’t get better at buffets. If you’re a true buffet enthusiast, they slay you every time. You lumber out of the restaurant groaning and belching, and then have to lie down for the next hour watching repeats of Will & Grace and realising that it’s not actually as progressive a show as you would think.

All that said, I’m definitely getting more skilful at buffets. I have a process for them, implemented via years of trial and error, and with input from my buffet senseis, Dad and Skye. So I thought, even if it’s inevitable that you’ll leave the buffet a hot mess, here’s my list of tips of getting the most out of it, to make the next week of recovery at least worth it:

 

  1. Start with the hot foods. As Des Bellamy once said, “don’t waste space on muesli”.

 

  1. Try new things. Who knew you liked congee with maple syrup until you tried it?

 

  1. If someone is offering you a cooked-fresh thing, always take it over the “simmering in a bain marie for hours” thing.

 

  1. Get triple the hash browns you think you need.

 

  1. Don’t take your time. If you pause too long between courses, your stomach will realise it’s full, and then it’s all over.

 

  1. Fill your pockets. Of course you need three types of artisanal mustard to take back home and a bag of nashi pears. Remember Marge Simpson in the Gummy Venus episode? Wear that sort of coat.

 

Please feel free to add any tips I might have forgotten. Let’s make this the canon of gluttony! Thanks for enabling me once again, beautiful friends!