It started when I was 15 and sitting in front of the school’s careers advisor. When asked, what I wanted to do with my life, I replied, ‘work in theatre.’ The reply from the career’s advisor was that I should rethink arts and entertainment and look at options for a ‘real job,’ It is a reply and a stigma I have come up against many times since.
I always knew that a career in arts and entertainment would make me happy. From the first moment I sat in the audience of a west end theatre, to the first gig I went to, I have always embraced and understood the magic that a great live event can create. I challenge anyone to not be able to recall a great concert they attended or a brilliant piece of theatre or film that made them laugh or cry. However, a perception exists that if you have a job (or run a business) that centres on providing services for people’s leisure time, it is a leisure pursuit for you too. Not a professional career that takes many years of training. When I tell people I run an entertainment’s company, I have lost count of the amount of people that ask me what my other job is, or presume the company is a hobby whilst raising my children.
The ‘creative sector’ which includes live entertainment, music, events, theatre, performance, and the arts generates around £110 billion annually (based on DCMS figures) for the UK economy. Yet unlike other industries, it has been given no timeline or guidelines for when live events, festivals and performances can restart after the Covid-19 shutdown.
The implication that arts and entertainment’s professionals should retrain as the industry is ‘unviable’ echoes back to my careers advisors’ words so many years ago. Working in the entertainment’s industry is a real job and involves a huge eco system. The effects of the pandemic can be felt all the way down the supply chain.
I would be lying if I said running an entertainment’s company during a pandemic has been easy and I would be lying if I said there were not occasions when I considered throwing in the towel or shed a few tears. However, what I have learned is that people need the arts, and they need entertainment. Our customers were crying out for Covid compliant ways to celebrate special occasions and we intend to keep providing them.
Because this is my real job!