Guest Blog-From Writer Gemma Murray 

The arts is a place of performance, creativity, imagination and storytelling. A space for ideas and freedom – chosen by those with the creative minds to build a world on a page or tell a tale with their bodies. However, this thinking outside the box, people often struggle to prove themselves. 

The unemployment rate for actors, calculated by the actor’s equality association is at 90% and a separate study shows that an estimated 52% of every 10,000 scriptwriters are unemployed. The statistics speak for themselves, proving that this certainly isn’t an industry with high success rates, it is though, an industry with possibly the highest rates of passion for the job than any other. This combination of rejection for the art that you love, can lead to an unsurprising rise in mental health problems, affecting those working in creative industries. 

The arts is a place of expression and this is undeniably wonderful for the positivity and mental health of those who flourish in the industry – the passion to create and speak to the world in a safe place, for people to show themselves, their ideas and soul and in turn, give a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. But what happens when this art is rejected? When your passion is turned down and feels underappreciated? The feasibility, need and relevance of the arts are things that have undoubtedly been in question in the media and when creative passions are queried, this sense of self is too. Perhaps a root of this mental health crisis stems from a lack of appreciation on a larger scale, the argument of the extra-curricular nature of the arts is an angle that cannot be ignored. There is difficulty, in choosing a job, that most people see as a hobby and the constant justification to both the world and yourself, of your passion’s importance. 

Dancer Phoebe elaborates further:

‘In many schools at the moment subjects such as dance are being cut from the curriculum, which leaves dance to serve the only purpose its left with – extra curricular activities. We need to stop thinking of subjects in terms of outcome. The outcome of maths is not can you do algebra, but it is the process itself that is important. This is the same with the arts. The arts should not be valued in terms of your outcome at the end of the subject, did you produce an art work and did you achieve a correct/final answer? It should be valued in terms of its process as a disciplinary subject. That being – what it teaches you along the way, the skills you develop, how this can be applied in things other than the one subject you are specialising in. Art is important for everyone. Art teaches you how to be open minded, it teaches you values, subjectiveness and objectiveness, to think of things on a deeper level, to question and to establish your own opinion. Its important for social integration, communication, bonding and inspiration, which of course is always relevant. Where would children and even adults be without books and colouring pencils? ‘ 

The mental health of artists is something that we must not ignore – the struggle for recognition and high level of stress when this is received. Supporting our artists is something that must not be bypassed and seeking help may be far easier if this was an issue addressed, something that ‘ArtsMinds’ is championing. With a study estimating that symptoms of anxiety are ten time higher and depression 5 times higher within the arts, ‘ArtsMinds’ is a place to safely speak and gain help for mental health problems within the industry – as ArtsMinds say themselves,  life can be the hardest act of all. 

Offering help to performers, writers and artists is something that I feel is particularly important. I myself have suffered from anxiety all my life, and writing, scripting and art are all things that have allowed me not to suffer this in vain, being able to transform my overthinking worrying brain, into scripts and art. Another, rather relevant quote for you ‘No artist sees thing as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.’ (Oscar Wilde)  The place of creativity, freedom, art and love should not be one of loneliness in the inevitable times of rejection , and so perhaps it is time to ask. Ask you friends how they are, do not presume their happiness. Question their coping mechanisms and encourage them without prompt. The arts is a safe and glorious space for championing the wonders of the brain, and so perhaps, give a second thought to those wonderous brains when they are not creating.

If you feel as though you would like some help , please do not be ashamed! This is such a common feeling , and help is not as scary as you may think (trust me, I have asked, and the world, much to my surprise, did not collapse around me).

 http://www.artsminds.co.uk/
@_GemmaMurray 

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Always Remember What Motivates You In The Arts 

We all need a reminder sometimes, of just what makes us tick, that drives us to want to succeed at what we are working on.

The Art? Fear of failure? Pride?

In an ideal world it would always be about the Art. But, in truth we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to the point, where we as creatives, worry about everything. Of course we don’t intend to put pressure on ourselves, but when we worry about what we perceive to be others expectations of us, we do.

We need to focus on what we are doing and our path, but this is easier said than done. Constantly, we see what others have achieved and we start to question our own achievements, rather than being proud of ourselves and what we aim for in the future. Why should it take others to validate us to give us self worth? Of course it’s a lovely feeling to get praise now and again, but it’s NOT the most important thing in the world.

Think of all the reasons why you love what you do..I know it’s a simple philosophy and the best part is it works. Write them down and then read the list, you will be amazed at how many wonderful points you have. This can unlock your consciousness and remind you of all the amazing reasons you enjoy a career in the Arts. 

Be bold and be kind 🎭

Guest Blog-From Theatrefullstop Founder Lucy Basaba

I was honoured when I was asked by Fran to contribute an article to her blog. We met last year when she very bravely trusted me to direct a recording of a monologue she had written. From that very moment a friendship blossomed, and it has been great to see how Fran has grown as a theatre maker, founding her own theatre company.

I am the founder and editor of a theatre website called Theatrefullstop. Theatrefullstop started life as a lone blogger writing her thoughts on the latest theatre happenings in the Fringe theatre scene. I’d read a few reviews prior to writing my very first however had been brought up to think that theatre reviewing wasn’t something that I was entitled to do. What I’ve learned along the years is that this is not the case. If you have the passion for theatre, you already have that unique perspective, your own voice. Theatrefullstop started in July 2013 and celebrates 4 years this year. In that time I’ve been able to build a small but dedicated reviewing team. Team members have left, whether that be to pursue careers in the arts or have returned to their native countries, however we all still keep in contact, with members returning and contributing occasionally.

In 2015 we won the Young Person Recognition Award at the UK Blog Awards and that was a fantastic confidence boost as we were being celebrated for something that had been created out of a passion for theatre. Fast forward to 2017 and this year has already witnessed the first Pub Theatre Festival; a festival giving emerging theatre makers the platform to showcase their work at an established pub theatre venue. It was a lot of fun organising the festival (and a lot of work too) and it was great to watch the 14 companies chosen. This year will also witness the first Theatre and Technology Awards; an initiative celebrating the artistry and creativity happening technologically both on stage and off. There are 11 categories and voting is now open so please vote if you can!

What’s been great about theatre blogging is the people I have met along the way. I started off writing and now I’ve found that another passion of mine is organising events. In terms of advice that I can give in terms of starting up a blog; use a blog platform such as WordPress and don’t pressure yourself into writing a lot of reviews in a short space of time. See a show a month, a show a week if you’re up to it and before you know it you’ve built up a portfolio of reviews. Once you’re comfortable with that and figured out a routine, you can focus on a variation of content such as interviews, videos, features etc.

To find out more on Theatrefullstop here: http://www.theatrefullstop.com/

Relax and Replenish…Make Time For You

Sometimes, you feel that you have come to a point where you are lethargic, frazzled and extremely tired, in both mind as well as body and start to panic. I can’t be tired, I have so much to write, rehearse, promote..

Sound familiar? I have a feeling it does. We all feel we have to be on auto-pilot in the Arts as every second counts. It is not the end of the world, to take time to relax and do absolutely nothing, for at least a couple of hours. Trust me, I know it will feel odd, when it seems you should be sorting out everything under the sun, but it is VITAL to make time for you.

Here are three ideas on how to unwind and relax:

1. Read or listen to an audio book you have been meaning to, for what seems like forever.

2. Listen to music, in fact listen to your playlists that make you smile.

3. Pamper session– I am talking the three F’s- a facial, favourite food and favourite film.

Hope this has helped inspire you to have some well earned you-time, please never feel guilty for putting yourself first once in a while. 

Remember, being kind extends to yourself, as well as others.

None Of Us Are “Perfect” In The Arts

It has been said a thousand times Don’t compare yourself to others, but still we do it. We have a glimpse on social media, of how well that person we haven’t seen in years is doing and we crumple. It’s natural, we look at ourselves and start over analysing- picking apart who we are. 

That’s the problem. Sometimes we forget that who we are (who none of us are) will never be our self imposed ideal of perfection. There is no way of clicking fingers and making life the way we want it, we have to work hard and above all enjoy the life we have. 

So what if we haven’t had our new play get the feedback we think it deserves or have that role in that new musical?! Occasionally, we get to places too early and other times our time-keeping doesn’t go to plan. Don’t tear yourself apart, it’s just life, it happens.

Our apparent physical ‘imperfections’ we see in ourselves, don’t go away because someone tells you that you’re beautiful, we all know that. We need to embrace who we are and see that these are what make us who we are, they are quirks that make us stand out from the crowd, let’s be proud of that.

No-one is perfect in this world let alone the Arts, so let’s treat ourselves with the kindness, we endeavour to show others. Starting today!

Be Bold, Fearless And Creative

I haven’t written an article on Frantastic View for a little while and I have definitely missed it (hopefully you might have too?!). As well as missing writing on my blog, I decided to restart writing articles, as the comments and messages from you my readers, about my articles and my career, show that in some small way I can inspire. This makes me overjoyed, that I make a difference, as everyone who says I inspire or have given advice that has helped them, makes me very happy indeed. In the Arts industry, we should all be helping each other, kindness is vital, along with being supportive. 

With this sentiment, I have chosen the three words of advice in the Arts, (along with kindness, which is a given).

Bold

Yes, if you want to create something but have absolutely no idea what you are doing…REMEMBER none of us do most of the time. None of us have all the answers, so never feel embarrassed to ask advice, or have a long research and development period. Approach that creative, you want to work with, take that risk, the worst they can say is no, right?

Fearless

Unless you try you will never know, who likes what if’s? I can’t imagine anyone does, so don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from performing that role or writing that play. Believe in yourself, or what you can achieve, it can seem an alien concept sometimes, but when we do, great things can happen.

Creative

Just simply be you.

What The Term “A Living” Means In The Arts 

The main thing in life is to be happy. The phrase ‘a living’ refers to what most of us do to earn money, but it also means so much to us in the arts. Our work is our life, it’s the way we live, a part of us, like an organ in our body. This life brings us joy.

We are happy as artists, when we are being creative and watching our working take shape. To be able to make a sustainable living is to which we all aspire, whether it’s through all our creative avenues, or just one or two to support other projects, such as a new play we are writing or acting in a Fringe work, that is not paying a substantial fee. 

Living means every moment of a creatives life is full with ideas, content and projects we want to develop. This is not an exaggeration ( OK perhaps a little one), but our life is definitely so much more than 9-5 and we don’t just earn, we live it! 

And as always, have a lovely week and don’t forget to smile!

Regrets Of What We Didn’t Do…

We all know that feeling..What if I had said how I feel? What if I had attended that audition? What if, What if and What if?!

To be very direct, we have two choices:

Let these regrets fester or do something about them.
Ok, this sounds a lot simpler than it actually is, as the reality of both can be terrifying. We need to do something about them, which again comes down to to two choices:

Let go..or say/do what we wished we had, before we had regrets.

This mainly comes from inner strength. This is a strength you didn’t know you had, but one that drives you to do what will make YOU happy. Whether it’s setting up your own theatre company, saying sorry to someone who means a great deal to you, or making a romantic deceleration, these are all things that could make you happy, so what do you have to lose? Pride? Ego? Reputation? So what?! Life is too short to make decisions based on what could go wrong, think what could go right. Please bare this in mind, if something means a lot to you, then it’s worth pursuing and especially if it will benefit others too.

As always, remember to be kind to others as well as yourself!

Belief vs Flattery: Life As A Female Creative

As Artists we are vulnerable. The ones who deny that, are not telling the whole truth. We want praise, to feel validated as a creative and that what we believe in, has resonated with others too. Someone says I want to work with you, we get excited. We must work together..this gets the heart racing. Only problem with this, is the fact, in most instances, these people who speak these words are not entirely as they seem.

Perhaps opportunists is a strong word, but as a female creative we meet these often, some so cleverly disguised, they could give chameleons a run for their money. These are usually men in the industry who try to use their status to reel in women they find attractive, with promises of “collaborating” although their definition is less honourable than the dictionary definition. 

Of course, this scenario happens in many different careers and not just to women, but the arts I feel, we need to speak out more about our lives as female creatives, to create a sense of unity.

My advice to make sure you do not get reeled in by these wolves, in a pug outfit, is trust your intuition, be cautious and if something doesn’t feel right….it’s not. You will know when someone genuinely believes in you, they will act with integrity and never sleazy behaviour.

Remember you have gifts, respect them and yourself. Surround yourself with those who respect you and never be patronised. Always.

A Smile Masks A Thousand Words In The Arts

Make a cup of tea, start your day and then it starts…the smile. The smile that masks a thousand words, that are unsaid. The smile that everyone thinks you are so lucky to be wearing. Why wouldn’t you be? You do a job you love, you aren’t constricted by one with set hours, life is a peach..isn’t it?

It’s when that giant crane digs up the earth, it finds underneath the foundations of that smile we all us on tap as performers, writers, creatives. We use it as a mechanism, to keep us going and keeping up appearances, a sort of Hyacinth Bucket surburbia style. We will say we don’t do this, but ultimately we all do it.

We need to be open with each other, that we all don’t have the perfect life we seem to so often radiate, not by a mile, not even close. It is almost as if it we feel weak or a failure, to admit when things aren’t tickety boo. In the Arts, let’s be open and listen to others, make us realise we are all in this together, for better or worse and need to help each other out.

Why don’t we tell each other how we are feeling…deal?