The negative stigma associated with creative careers

In today’s day and age it seems like all anybody cares about is how much money they bring home at the end of the year. Because of this, fields like medicine, computer science and finance are reeling in a larger pool of applicants than in previous decades. But what about arts based careers? Don’t we still need musicians and actors and writers?

Tonight at a press conference at MSU S.J. “Frog” Forgey from the Lansing-based music group Frog and the Beeftones talked about the negative stigma automatically associated with musicians in particular.

“I’ve been working for more than 40 years and I still get talked down to by the 22 year old guy in the bar,” Forgey said. “The public’s perception of musicians in the United States is what needs to change, not the kind of music people listen to or what artists they like.”

Forgey went on to contrast how musicians are treated in America compared to in Europe. He described that in European culture musical artists are glorified and thought of as high up in society. To me this seems like exactly what we do with athletes, but I can’t come up with much of a logical claim as to why. It’s difficult to make it all the way to the pros in any sport, but isn’t it just as challenging to become a household name or have multiple songs on the radio that everyone seems to know all the lyrics to?

The U.S. News published an article in January containing a projection for the best jobs in America for the year of 2104. Jada Graves ranked technology as the industry that is most likely to have the largest amount of open, well paying jobs. Health care, business, social services and construction follow, and the only thing found under the creative subheading projects that “for this industry, no news is good news.”

To take it further, zero of the listed top 10 jobs include an arts background. The number one spot is held by the position of software developer, followed by computer systems analyst, dentist, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, registered nurse, physical therapist, physician, web developer and dental hygienist.

It all comes down to the fact that to be a photographer or musician or a dancer or have a career based in the arts at all, you have to be willing to take risks. Everyone always talks about how passion is a key component to being successful in any unstable career and I couldn’t agree more. The average writer or musician may not have the best salary, but for some that isn’t the most important aspect of their jobs.

“If I was in it for the money I wouldn’t be a musician, I would have become a plumber,” Forgey said. “I keep my sanity because of music. Really. I think I’d be a lot more of an unhappier person without it. I love it.”

At the end of the day, the negative machismo associated with musicians and other professionals with arts related careers may be associated with lower pay, but I would like to see that change. Though the future may seem bleak for those with arts backgrounds there is still something to be said for their persistence and dedication to their careers and passions that should not be degraded.

3 Responses to “The negative stigma associated with creative careers” »

Jada says:
Aug 06, 2014

This article is completely spot-on about how people in America perceive careers in the arts. People underestimate the arts and the positive effect they have.

Kennedy Carman says:
Aug 06, 2014

This article really hits home. I remember having to choose careers in math class in eighth grade to figure out how to live with different salaries and incomes. The art based careers were frowned upon because they weren’t “realistic enough.” This made me realize that at the end of the day it’s not all about the paycheck.

Valeria Rigobon says:
Dec 07, 2016

I think this is such a thoughtfully written article! I stumbled across this while doing a little research about the stigma against music students and musicians that seems to prevail a bit in some parts of the US. I decided to observe this at my own school, Florida State University (FSU), after I came back to school from a volunteer experience in Lima, Peru this past summer. While I was there working as music teacher, I noticed some major stigma towards the idea of pursuing music for more than just extracurricular fun and into a professional/academic field. I was perplexed by the perspectives I learned about while I was there and I’ve been trying to understand how some of those negative views may be similar to the perceptions about music students here at my university. In the time since you’ve written this article, have your views changed at all? Let me know when you get the chance, and again, thanks so much for sharing this article! (I included a link to the first blog I wrote about exploring the issue of stigma against music students, but the rest of my project about music education in Peru is also accessible from that link!)

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