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Intro to Finance for Creatives

Welcome to my foray into writing about my experience of trying to merge business and finance with being an actor, or more broadly a "creative".

One of the big shocks any drama graduate will experience when leaving drama school is the sudden requirement of being a 'business person', of understanding how finance and entrepreneurship work as you navigate trying to become a successful, working artist. That was certainly what it was like for me.

However, I was luckier than most in having scored the parental jackpot. My mother is an artist and my father is an entrepreneur who runs his own company offering financial training services. So, I have grown up learning to express myself creatively as well as how to (theoretically) manage my money and being encouraged to think like an entrepreneur. I also have this incredible 'father' resource to draw on when it comes to understanding finance.

One of the things I always struggled with was the notion of the 'starving artist' and thinking of the life of the actor who is working four or five different jobs at minimum wage just to try and survive whilst dashing to auditions. This is currently where I am. Perhaps its just me, but I feel like there must be a better way of doing things. Surely there is a way we can develop a 'business model', figure out how to make it a profitable business, figure out a way to construct a life that includes spending more time on our art than in survival jobs without having to hit the proverbial jackpot and gain a series regular role on the next Greys Anatomy. Then again, who's to say that someone hasn't already figured this out! All that remains is for me to find them and copy them.

It is acknowledged that there are actors who experience a certain amount of success because they come from a wealthy background and are able to spend time working on the craft and getting out to auditions whilst others may take a longer time to do it because they have to find a way to pay the bills at the same time which eats into the time they need to develop their craft. It is by no means obvious that either person will achieve financial success. Just because you come from money doesn't mean you will necessarily be good at managing it later on, just as the fact that coming from a less financially privileged background means that you can't make a financial success of yourself in the future. Clearly, it is a necessary skill for all actors and creatives in general to learn about what it takes to run a business and how they could do it effectively.

That is what I feel for myself at least and so I wanted to start writing about my journey of learning about finance and sharing what I discover as I attempt to apply business to acting. I hope that it is useful for other actors and creatives who also feel that there's something amiss in this story of the 'starving artist'.


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