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Financial Stability in the Arts amidst the Coronavirus

financial stability
By Melissa Bondar

I have been thinking a lot this week about how some of my career choices feel more like a miracle than something I managed to do on my own. I started stage managing full time in 2008, which many of you may remember as a very bad year, followed by a few more bad years of terrible economy and recession. Nonetheless, I rode them all out with a really decent job on a cruise ship.

I’ve spent a lot of the last two weeks watching darn near every single one of my theater friends’ jobs close, one after another, with little to no warning.

I’ve watched it in a quiet state of horror that many of you can probably relate to, well aware that at every single other juncture of my life, that would’ve been me… except for the sheer dumb luck (or someone upstairs looking out for me), that I am teaching at a university for the first semester ever as this happens.

Even cruise ships are shut down.

Anyway, I feel overwhelmed with blessings right now. I have a well stocked emergency fund. I have a job that just shifted right online (money wise – work wise, yeah, it’s been as crazy as that seems). I have a side hustle that is entirely online. I even have good state health insurance for the first time ever.

So as I’ve been counting these blessings, it seems like there is some responsibility within them too. Is that just me?

I feel like there’s a responsibility to stock up properly at the grocery store but not to hoard.

I feel like there’s also a responsibility to check on what friends or neighbors may need and just pick it up for them, especially if it’s only a few items, and just give it to them. No repayment necessary. I can totally swing an extra $15-20 or so on my grocery bill right now. It’s not like I’m going out with friends this weekend, right? Then deposit the items on their doorstep, go back to your car, and safely text them that the items are there.

Speaking of not going out with friends this weekend, in our amazing arts community, there is still a ton of stuff going on online.

Now is the time to really pay attention to things like virtual tip jars, Patreon donations, etc. and use them. If I listen to a friend’s band on Facebook live, there is absolutely no reason not to donate $5 to them.

Some theaters have put their performance online. A few are even performing them on live feeds. Find these theaters. Buy tickets. The theaters are all hardcore in a bad way right now.

Ask your freelancing friends what they do on the side. A lot of them do coachings, have online shops, do online side hustles. Support the heck out of them. An actress in a show I worked on five years ago makes really cute cards. I thought, why not stock up now?

A lot of my musician friends are offering lessons online. If you’ve been meaning to brush the dust off that piano or pick back up some instrument you have sitting in the attic, now is a great time. You not only get to take up a fun hobby, you likely become a piece of income for that instructor that really matters right now.

Clearly, I can’t buy everything and support everything, but I can make more of an effort and actively push some of my budget into doing that. I also might know where to find a free version of something someone else is charging a few dollars for right now, but I pick the thing that costs a few dollars to support the person behind it.

I know this isn’t a reality for everyone. Like I said, darn near everyone I’ve worked with in the last 10 years is out of work right now. But there are a lot of us, who amidst all the legitimate craziness and fear happening right now, who are not worried about our incomes.

And the thing is, I think when everything starts to fall apart, one of the best ways to start to feel in control again is to start helping.

We can’t magically become healthcare workers, but we can buy a scented candle from a pal’s side hustle that may be the difference between whether they can buy groceries this week or not.

#squadgoals – figure out how to be a helper, if you can.

And a final thing I’ve come up with, is that if you are a totally unemployed arts worker and you’re interested in writing a guest post for brokeGIRLrich about any aspect of your life and your money (the effects of Coronavirus, side hustles you’re working on, side hustles you’ve done, how you budget, how you built or didn’t build an emergency fund, pretty much anything money related), I can pay $30 a post.

I’ve decided to just turn the blog income into this project for the time being, so if I have more demand than I have blog income, I’ll just start a waiting list and as more income comes in, I’ll notify you. Email [email protected] if you’re interested.

Stay safe and wash your hands, ya’ll.

Published in Collaboration with brokeGIRLrich

brokegirlrich TheatreArtLife

Also on by Melissa Bondar:

Gig Cancellations due to Coronavirus: Survival Tips for Freelancers

The Financial Benefits of Touring in Entertainment

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