17th May 2021
The Global Media Site for Entertainment.

Support the Arts Side Hustles #BeAnArtsHero

arts side hustles
By Melissa Bondar

One thing I’ve talked about a lot here over the years are side hustles, and it turns out the arts community are pretty phenomenal at it.

If you’re looking for inspiration for things you could do as side hustles or looking for unique ways to support arts workers, here are some side hustles (some of which have grown so big they’re really full on businesses) from people who usually work in the arts.

For my readers who don’t work in the arts, you might be unaware that 62% of the events industry is out of work and there is nowhere else in this field they are trained in for these folks to look for work. This industry employed a lot of highly skilled, but super specialized, people with some of those skills not exactly translating in other fields.

94% of arts workers have lost some revenue this year, with the average income loss coming out to $23,500.

So while many have picked up temp jobs and entry level retail, customer service, waitressing-type jobs to make ends meet, that’s a pretty major pay cut for many folks (despite how much we all joke that it’s a struggle to make ends meet in the arts – after a certain threshold, and especially backstage and in technical areas, it’s not).

The Brookings Institute did an economic report estimating the effect of COVID on unemployment and the economy and they predict a total loss of 2.7 million jobs and $150 billion in sale of goods and services total in the US. That’s the number for every job in every sector.

The estimated portion of that number that will belong to the arts and events industry is 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales. That’s literally just over half the total of the unemployed population and a little under a third of the total loss in sales.

You may have seen the hashtag #wemakeevents or the phrase #RedAlert along with pictures of buildings being lit up red. It started in the UK where their unemployment setup actually left a lot of event workers out of their public assistance schemes. However, with the end of the additional pandemic relief help in the US, we’ve picked up the torch here to spread the word too.

You may have seen a bunch of buildings lit up red when you drove around on September 1st, and that’s why. It’s to bring attention to this massive industry that is crumbling (you can follow yet another hashtag for specifically American updates on this – #BeAnArtsHero).

On the plus sides, there are the very beginnings of stirrings of hope for some events. Actors Equity has approved a handful of venues. Theme parks are reopening. There are open air offerings (which in the more northern states won’t be able to happen all winter). Other countries are doing vastly better than us and are more fully reopened, which is great for those of us that tour – once other countries start allowing Americans in again.

So there is some small hope that by this time next year, this will all just be a nightmare in the past. In the meantime, below are some tangible ways you can support some of the folks trying to make the most of this strange time.

One Million Cards

This is actually my friend Juliana’s site. She has gotten very into photography the last few years and has a dream to create one million unique cards. You can read about her goal on her website, and if you’ve been catching up on some letter writing, purchase a few of her unique cards.

(Or if you’re like, who would I write to? Adopt a senior pen pal. Here’s one retirement home looking for pen pals.)

Scenery Bags

Maybe one of the best known stage manager turned hustler companies is Scenery Bags. These bags are made of recycled curtains and drops from various performances. The company has also branched out to some jewelry made out of recycled flooring also from a variety of performances. Even better, when you purchase one of these items, you help support sending kids to the theater through their partnership with TDF (when there is theatre again to send them to).

Adane Art

This performer I worked with a few summers ago makes a variety of crafts including homemade cards and jewelry. Her projects are very varied. I’ve seen wall art, coasters, and more. I particularly like her holiday cards.

Management Experience

This fun Etsy shop has lots of cool theatre-themed stickers to pick from. If you are a stage manager or there is one in your life, these are seriously some of the best themed items I’ve seen geared towards our kind in a long time.

Backroom Finds

This stage manager has been focusing on her website where she sells the vintage sewing patterns and clothing. There is a wide variety of sewing companies and decades represented in her finds. If the sewing bug has bit you during quarantine, check out her site to find a pattern and fabric for your next project.


This cute Etsy store features a variety of homemade goods by a scenic designer and costume designer. They sell masks, stickers, earrings and charms. While many have a strong theatre-themed bent, there are also some fun, random designs too.

Lesbian Earrings by Liv

Whatever your sexual proclivity, Liv makes awesome jewelry for all using recycled sources. The products are constantly changing based off of what they manage to find to create new wearable works of art.

The Bundle Game

If you’re looking for something super unique, these personalized games (created by an actress and her sister) are really cool. A little on the pricey side but the uniqueness of them really is very intriguing (I have honestly considered this as a gift for my dad for Christmas in years when I was a little more flush).

Dirty Deeds Soap

This artistic director has a nifty soap company. They also stock a large amount of shaving and beard grooming supply options, which is nice to keep in mind as the holidays creep closer and closer and all the theaters remain closed and all the arts workers still don’t have their jobs back.

The Punny Pachyderm

This shop features masks and totes made by a stage manager. Personally, I love the Snailed It tote. There are lots of cool designs to check out.

Onesie Industries

This company, run by a former Ringling co-worker, sells crazy patterned onesies for adults. Absolutely perfect for social distancing at home in – especially as we get back into the colder months. Their main market is actually companies looking for a unique pick-me-up for their employees. As their website says, “sure, t-shirt, hoodies, and socks are cool. But you know what’s even cooler? The team gift that no one else has – a handmade onesie from Onesie Industries.” Just a heads up, they are very pricey.

Also by Melissa Bondar:

How to Communicate Like a Buddhist: A Review

My Zoom Stage Manager Experiment

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