I spend my days living in two worlds. One being a world of possibility and artistic creation where I am constantly reminded of the best in humanity. This world, to me, is known as La La Land. The second world is full of challenges, realism and competition. This is the real world. I can't exist in one without the other. What is known as The Arts, in whatever form it comes in, is changing. Cinema that was made for the “big screen” is now watched in the palm of your hand. Theatre is performed to living rooms across the world rather than only to an audience in the same room. Music is no longer a commodity but a service to be subscribe to. These are the ways in which The Arts are changing, but the purpose of art never will. The purpose of art is to inspire, challenge, provoke, inform and entertain. These core values are still at the forefront of why artists continue to create and put themselves on the line.
A film that so beautifully captures what it means to be an Artist was recently released and is doing astoundingly well this awards season. You can gather which film I am talking about from the title of this blog post. While listening to the nostalgic soundtrack, I’ve been thinking about what it is about this film that has spoken to me and many others. No, it is not just that it features incredibly good looking people (although they are amazingly talented in it). No, it’s the fact that the story seems to depict where I am at in my career and where many others currently find themselves or have been in the past. One scene feels particularly reminiscent of where my career is at; the female protagonist, an aspiring actress in Hollywood, sits in a coffee shop typing an email, inviting industry professionals to a one-woman show she has written. As I type this, I myself am sitting in a coffee shop with people streaming by around me, unaware of the thoughts going on in my mind. On many occasions I have sat here writing what are considered “passion projects”, hoping to one day look back on this place as where it all began.
Passion. That is the one thing that keeps me going in The Arts. Passion for wanting to share my ideas, my perspective of the world and create some positivity in a time of such negativity. Another moment in the film that relates is when the aspiring actress is on the phone to her mother, sharing the news of her latest project.
“No, Mom. I’m not getting paid. I’m paying to do this.”
All too often I am asked the question, “So, are you working?” The answer should immediately be “Yes!” However, the question they’re really asking is “Do you have a regular job where you are getting paid a salary?” Maybe I’m overly sensitive on the subject and am reading too much into things, but it gets quite exhausting after awhile having to defend what you do with your life. Many people think of The Arts as a luxury. As a field of work where artists bum their way through life, always taking and never contributing their fair share to society. What they don’t realise is those who identify as artists spend most of their life in poverty and dealing with harsh critique of their work and themselves personally; often one in the same. All for the purpose of inspiring, challenging, provoking, informing and entertaining. Just think, if you were to remove all artistic recreation from your life, what would be left?
As a woman living with disability, I at times face additional obstacles in getting my voice heard. Whether it be that I am not taken seriously, cannot take advantage of the same opportunities as others or that my perspective may mean less to others. If I wasn’t able to live part of my life in La La Land, this all may overwhelm me. Thankfully, after watching films or listening to music or reading literature that inspires, challenges, provokes, informs or entertains me, I leave with a renewed passion for wanting to share my voice and unique perspective of the world. In my mind, that is what makes me an Artist.