Many students see the performing arts as a way to relax and express themselves, but others see it as a way to make a living. The National Endowment for the Arts estimates that arts and cultural production within the US was responsible for 4.5% of the country's GDP in 2017. With such a vibrant industry, there's always room for new artists, right? In reality, performing arts is a highly competitive field. Since art is open to interpretation, there's no single skill that appeals to every person in the world. Your art carries with it your style, as unique as a signature on your work. How do you know if the audience will enjoy your flavor of artistic production? Let's examine what it takes to choose the performing arts as a career.
More Than Just Performers
A common misconception is that work in the performing arts is all about the performers, but that isn't strictly true. The management of a group or theatre or even a circus are all professions within the performing arts. Behind every successful stage-performance is a theater manager. Other lesser-known personnel include set designers, costumers, and wardrobe experts, and makeup artists, each of which don't get out in front of the lights but still contribute to each show significantly. If you want to enter performing arts as a career but aren't much into showing off on stage, these careers are just as impactful, although far less visible.
Don't Expect to Get a Job With An Arts Degree Immediately
It may sound like a discouraging statement, but you can take it two ways. On the one hand, an engineer or scientist with a degree can come out of college and land a job immediately. An arts degree won't land you a job immediately, but it will allow you to appreciate how people see the arts. That in itself is a freeing prospect, and it should inform your next decision. Instead of trying to become another starving artist working for beans, contemplate forging your own path. Vice argues that while your arts degree won't get you a job, that doesn't mean they're worthless. Understanding the arts offers you a unique perspective into the human condition. To build your own path using your arts degree, use it as a mirror to show the rest of humanity what makes them human.
Play to Your Strengths
Are you a musician or a dancer? How about a scriptwriter? If you have a natural talent in an area, trying to avoid that area might relegate you to competing with others who are better equipped. No student at the Heather Wayne Performing Arts school would dream of replacing their passion with something else. Why would you? If you've decided to do performing arts, you will need every advantage you have to show that you are worth looking at or listening to. Don't short-change yourself by not tapping into your natural talent.
Meet People and Forge Connections
The arts community is just that - a community. Every person you meet or talk to has their own contacts that they can introduce you to. Don't make the mistake that everyone is friendly since the community can be quite competitive. But don't miss the opportunity to meet and talk to as many people as possible. Don't worry about if they like you or not, just be yourself. Your art will shine through to those who look for it.