The congratulations still streaming in, I’m actually starting to believe it now.
It is a weird process… or it was for me…
Having given up my salary and my proper job, I was highly motivated to get this right. And with plenty of help from pretty much everyone I know that has had anything to do with the arts council, I filled in the form. It took about three weeks. People would suggest I talk to other people who might be able to help, either with publicity and marketing, or installation or finance, or support in kind. I sent out emails, met people for coffee and a natter. Loads of people read and re-read different parts of the form. The calculator was hammered to make the numbers work. Eventually, when I pressed send, I was absolutely confident that this application could be no better. I didn’t even have that post-exam stress type thing. All the way through the five weeks I waited. I knew that my application was a good one. Problem is, there is only so much money, and some people will get it, and some people won’t. All you can do is the best you can. Mine was a stonkin’ application… but I’m sure all the others were too!
Anyway. They said yes. (actually, I would love to know why… what was the thing that made it a yes…?) I will be getting the money. For a year’s work…and the effects of it will be felt far beyond, and will be spread about as far as I can – they will get their money’s worth from me!
The week before the yes came in, I was talking to my friend Dan, who will be supporting my songwriting, recording, producing and everything music related for this project. He will get a chunk of the money too of course, but what he said last week will stay with me. He said it was a great project and he wanted to work with me on it anyway, and that we’d work something out. What this little snippet of conversation did was set my head in the right place. So when the letter arrived, I knew that Dan was my partner in crime, that he was in it for the love of it too. Oh we all need money of course, but to go into this knowing he’d have had a part in it anyway (less hours, longer period of time, and way more DIY and barter going on I’m sure!) is just mind-blowing. A real emotional, creative commitment to it. I don’t know if he realises how great that is… yeah… he probably does… he’s probably been on the receiving end.
The project is due to start at the beginning of January officially. What I/we do now is plan. I would like one of the songs, already part written, sketch/demo recorded, to be part of the launch, maybe an open studio thing, start us off with a bang! (oh do come, there will be cake!)
I have a laminated wall chart with stickers and coloured pens. I have a notebook, an online diary, and I have a spreadsheet to build. I have a folder. I’ve set up the blog. I will open another bank account to work from. This is the Proper Job I have wanted all my life.
(There’s a thing I want to insert here about PAYING ARTISTS… The money isn’t just about living is it? It’s about being appreciated for your skills, talent, aptitude for a given profession. Differentiation in percentages granted for pay rises aren’t fair… why should politicians get 30% and nurses get 1%? We want people who choose to care for us in our most vulnerable times, to be in it for the love, not just the money, we need them to have a natural aptitude for that work. We don’t want our politicians to just be in it for the money either, we want them to be our voice, to represent us, to see that as a vitally important, underpinning aspect of the job, not in it for the expenses claims and the self-awarded 30% pay increase. I know some people find the “need” for artists a bit more nebulous, but the principle is the same, appreciate people for who they are, aptitude, talent, natural ability, whatever you want to call it. Pay a proper wage to people who work for it, whatever the job is… society finds use for it all, because society IS us! Obvious!)
There are times when working as an artist feels self-indulgent. But all the time, up until this year, I have been something else… mostly in education of some sort or another. My creative skills are not just used -then or now- just for my own pleasure… this isn’t masturbation. It is at last, now, an acknowledgement of who I am. My own creativity is as important as the creativity of those children and adults I have taught over the years. How can I have told them over and over throughout those last 35 (ish) years that I value their different ways of thinking and creative contribution to our society as they grow, without now being an example to them, and valuing my own?