Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 132: Clubbie or Surfer?

Two articles caught my eye in the Sydney Morning Herald this week. The first was in Monday’s Heckler column. Heckler is a back page 400 word piece set aside for reader’s who have something on their mind that they’d like to say. This Monday’s was entitled “A dream job? Wake up!”.

I can’t reprint the entire article here, but the jist of it was that the 24 year-old author was bemoaning how she’d been encouraged to “follow her dreams”, decribing how she went down an “artier, fartier” path at university, whilst her peers decided to study ”law/economics/science and medicine” and were, as a consequence now “putting deposits on houses, taking extravagant overseas holidays and getting promotions.” The writer, in the article, contemplates whether the time has come to “go corporate”?

The second article that drew my attention was in yesterday’s Arts & Entertainment section, under the heading “Why you’ll never make a living as an artist.” Here’s one or two of the choicest moments from that piece which was quoting a newly published report by Macquarie University economist, David Throsby on the earnings of the artistic members of the Australian community:

“...the income gap between artists and the genral workforce has widened.”

“More than half the country’s artists are earning less than $10,000 a year from their art, with WRITERS, painters and dancers doing it toughest.”

“Arts BUREAUCRATS and ADMINISTRATORS have a higher and more secure income than artists.”

There’s plenty more where that came from but I don’t want to depress you. As I packed boxes today, in the job that provides my main source of income these days - warehouse work - I listened to a podcast of an interview with the great British Dame of crime, the ninety year-old author Phyllis (P.D.) James, being asked about her recent scathing attack on the Head of the BBC for the way that the broadcaster’s staff are fattened much fatter than the programme-makers of radio and television; I must lay my hands on a transcript of that interview.....I’m always up for an attack on the administrators by a feisty and eloquent nonagenerian writer.

A son and daughter of friends of mine have for a long time been displaying a prowess, capacity and love of artistic pursuits and both seem to be aiming their lives that way. Sam, the 19 year-old, has just this year embarked on a three year fine arts degree at Sydney’s COFA (College of Fine Arts) and his 16 year-old sister, Cloudy, already displaying a great skill behind the camera (the picture above is the Hungry Screenwriter and his photographer friend) has a blogspot of her photography which can be found at .

Why I mention these two (apart from the fact that they too are both paid-up members of the great fraternity of artists), is because one, the other or both, provided me with some of the greatest writer’s/artist’s fuel that I’ve ever been given. Both Sam and Cloudy are rabid surfers and once returned from the beach having experienced a telling off or dressing-down at the hands of a surf-lifesaver club member who had threatened to confiscate their boards. Firstly, let me just say that the Surf Life Savers do a great job, but the point of this story was about the ongoing run-ins between “clubbies” and “surfers” and the clubbies overstepping of their authority, threatening to take someone’s board away from them. The moral of the story for me was this: “...make your choice; when it comes down to it, are you a clubbie or a surfer?”

I know, I know, I know, it sounds like I’m taking some sort of artistic moral high ground here, intimating that those who “do” are more worthier members of society that those who “manage” (hold the purse strings/believe they have the power to "take boards away") which I don’t mean to do; please, just humour my little rant, pat me on the head and offer me a handful of cashews. If you’re a clubbie then that’s your choice, your prerogative (someone’s got to do it).

Yesterday, I fronted up to my accountant to go over my tax return and was stunned to learn that a very modest sum of money would be coming my way, enough to maybe get me back to the UK for the first time in four years (a generous friend is frequent-flying me home, my funds not extending to the cost of a ticket) but today, I am afeared of that possibility disappearing as two of my teeth have flared up; whenever I walk through my dentist’s door I always lose every cent I have in my pocket.....England may have to wait a little longer.

Should I have “gone corporate”? I did for nineteen years, but now, teeth or no teeth, trip or no trip, I am as free as my surfing friends and NO F**KER is taking my board away....just let them try!

Day #132 Tip: Have vision
One more quote from the second of the two articles in yesterday’s Herald “The pursuit of an artistic vision, rarely a bankable salary, characterises the ambitions of Australia’s artists.....”

We are in the final straight of a Federal election campaign, here in Australia, where an absence of vision and progressive thinking on the part of our leaders has been all-too apparent, it’s hard to distinguish one from t’other and even harder to get inspired by much that they have to say.

Please, think big, dream big, aim big, take risks, make mistakes: no one can guarantee that it will work out, but, to quote one of France’s greatest literary figures and biggest thinkers, Victor Hugo:

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.

God is awake.” He didn't mention anything about "going corporate"....maybe Victor wasn't "across that"?

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