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Home » Why Must Artists Be Poor? by Hadi Eldebek (Full Transcript)

Why Must Artists Be Poor? by Hadi Eldebek (Full Transcript)

Hadi Eldebek

Hadi Eldebek – TRANSCRIPT

I come from a family of five brothers, all scientists and engineers. A few years ago, I sent them the following email: “Dear brothers, I hope this message finds you well. I am emailing to let you know that I’m dropping out of my master’s program in engineering to pursue a career as a full-time musician. All that I ask from you is not to worry about me.”

Brother number one replied. He was encouraging but a bit skeptical. He said, “I wish you the best of luck. You’re going to need it.”

Brother number two was a little bit more skeptical. He said, “Don’t do it! This will be the worst mistake of your life. Find a real career.”

Well, the rest of my brothers were so enthusiastic about my decision, they didn’t even respond.I know that the skepticism coming from my brothers is out of care and concern for me. They were worried. They thought it would be difficult to make it as an artist, that it will be a challenge. And you know what? They were right. It is such a challenge to be a full-time artist. I have so many friends who need to have a second job as a plan B in order to pay for the bills, except that plan B sometimes becomes their plan A. And it’s not just my friends and I who experience this. The US Census Bureau states that only 10 percent of art school graduates end up working as full-time artists. The other 90 percent, they change careers, they work in marketing, sales, education and other fields.

But this is not news, right? We almost expect the artist to be a struggling artist. But why should we expect that? I read an article in the “Huffington Post” saying that four years ago, the European Union began the world’s largest ever arts funding initiative. Creative Europe will give 2.4 billion dollars to over 300,000 artists. In contrast, the US budget for our National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single funder for the arts across the United States, is merely 146 million dollars. To put things into perspective, the US budget for the military marching bands alone is almost twice as much as the entire NEA.

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