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January 06, 2010


Ann Oleinik

Well, to be fair, there isn't necessarily more art now in the past. "Amateur" artists have been creating and interpreting the world way longer than the idea of the "artist" even existed in our society. Rather, technology has made it easier for anybody to share and make money off of their work - and this is an evolutionary process that has been going on for hundreds of years.

Really, if you want to live off of your art, you have to be ready to adapt to the changing marketplace. And you're right, scarcity is part of it.


I'm a bit irritated by the concept of "amateur" vs. "professional". What does that mean? Because I don't have an equity theater home does that make me an amateur, even if I have a degree in theater? I make my living off of computer programming, but write 2-3 plays a year. So far I've made about $600 total off of my plays, but have had over 20 productions. Does that make me an amateur?

Most of the people I know who live off the arts have made serious sacrifices. They make very little money. Don't have families, etc. What about that situation is professional?

Is this just conservatism? Are we just propping up a broken system out of tradition and calling it the "professional theater" so people don't notice that it doesn't work and paying far too much for far too little? Is "professional theater" just a brand name used to justify high ticket prices?



I think everybody's definition of a professional is different. I define it as someone who makes their living from a particular trade. So a professional writer makes her living writing (plays, novels, whatever).

Being a professional isn't about skill level. I know some very skilled amateurs and some very unskilled professionals, it's about whether or not you choose to use those skills to make a living.

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