In this blog I will explore alternative ways people can work in the arts sector without being an artist. My name is Thane Pullan. People know me as a comedian but I like being behind the scenes more.
The disability community needs artists to be visible but it is also worthwhile having us in the background. This can also be a good way for people to be involved in whatever their artform without being particularly skilled at it.
For example, I like music but have not found time to learn electronic music production. I am a programmer and web developer so I have been working on an event listing site for concerts, it has been under construction for about four years LOL. I'll eventually learn music production but having a website will also allow me to interview musicians just like I have done for my local comedy site.
You can also do similar by reviewing events and if you get a following it is possible to make it a job even if it is part-time. A perk of doing this is writing off expenses such as event tickets but this also requires real work to grow an audience. If you cannot do this yourself you may want to hit up existing media companies offering to review events or interview artists.
Advocating for your cause
If advocacy is your thing, you can use the reviews to inject information about accessibility. However, this is not appropriate if you are just reviewing one venue. I mentioned before that I am a web developer and I have injected accessibility information in the venue system of my event listing software. My point is that it is possible to use a background position to advocate for your cause and the extra attention may be helpful.
If you prefer to be visible but don't have any stage or acting skills consider becoming an extra. This is another great way to be involved in an art without having the top-level skill.
Getting back to my love of music: recently I appeared in the filming of a music video and this was a small way I could be involved in the music industry while also increasing visibility of people with disabilities.
I have mentioned a few happy consequences in this blog post: for example, the accessibility features in my software and being visible in a music video. I feel that I should point out that these things were not the primary reason for the projects but even so I believe that there is some benefit to society in doing them. You could do similar in the form of subtle advocacy, depending on the project.
Persistence is the key
I will say that rejection and disappointment is part of doing this but the key is persistence. If you are passionate about an art find an angle that you could realistically do then work towards it. It doesn't matter if your angle is being an assistant, promoter or reviewer; there are probably opportunities that exist in your desired field.
If you eventually want to do the art itself, it's possible that getting involved in the industry in other ways will help you gain the knowledge to assist with your aspirations.
I do a bit of everything but I can say that as I dip in and out of projects I am able to find select opportunities to be in the fields that interest me.
I hate to say "If I can do this so can you" but it really does apply. You just have to strategise and be persistent although, of course, nothing is guaranteed.