CMU School of Drama

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Love or Money: How About Both?

AMERICAN THEATRE: Art has always been done more for love than money. Actor Hilary Swank revealed in an October 2016 interview with Chelsea Handler that she was paid no more than $3,000 for her Oscar-winning role in Boys Don’t Cry. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) minimum to receive health insurance then was $5,000, which meant she had an Academy Award but no health insurance.


Helena Hewitt said...

Of course, artists tend to go into their chosen field because they are passionate about the work but they are still doing a job that they should be compensated for. This myth of the starving artist who suffers for their work seems to allow companies to pay them as little as possible and for those artists to feel like that is normal and expected. It seems sometimes given that a theatre artist, particularly an actor, working below a certain level will have to take a second job to make the bills. Survival jobs. You shouldn't have to work a second job just to survive. I think this comes back to the arts not being taken seriously as a profession. The arts are seen as a hobby, an extracurricular activity. We are telling artists that we don’t really need their work, it is something extra that they should be willing to do just ‘cause. But creating theatre is real work, difficult work. And if an organization is not going to properly compensate its artists then it shouldn’t expect long hours and dedication from them.

Vanessa Ramon said...

Everyone who works in the entertainment business is indeed familiar with the idea that artists are always starving. I mean, I don't think any of us went into this business to make money, but maybe that is the problem. none of us expected it, so we just accept it. I haven't really taken the acceptable amount of time to really ponder the fact that many well working, veteran artists don't get paid nearly as much as any expert should. I am so glad to hear that there are people like Steven Boyer out there that are trying to make this change. I can understand this situation from both sides. the theatres barely make enough money back to pay the artists and technicians anything and yet we want more. I think the article mentions that there are a lot of union rules that help, but some are holding the pay wages back. Theatre is a truly ever changing artform, and I think that are unions should change to fit that.

Madeleine Wester said...

It is definitely a struggle to determine what actions are worth taking when only a small tangible reward can be given. Many artists struggle to live comfortably, but are genuinely happy with the contributions they make to society. While I would like to believe that I can be the same, it is hard living without security, especially in a society that puts so much emphasis on having money and staying secure. However, it is nice to see that there are efforts to fix this problem. It almost seems that there is an implication that certain occupations are actually worth more to society as a whole and that is problematic for many individuals who are happy doing seemingly pointless jobs. If we consider these jobs to have any worth at all, we should not rate them and give wages accordingly. This obviously oversimplifies the solution to the problem, but the problem remains and the work being done to combat it is significant.