A week in the life and wallet of two playwrights
Disagree very much with the person who wrote in saying financial support is out of the ordinary - at least in industry towns like NYC, it's very much the norm and sadly expected. I have friends who have horror stories about trying to get paid for contract theatre work in NYC and encountering directors there who were shocked they actually needed the paychecks to survive - the assumption was that people had familial financial backing. It's gross but speaks to how impossible it is to survive on this work without that safety net.
I appreciate the work of the editor/s on these columns, the way they press to get more details and a fuller picture. I'm betting, contrary to what that one person emailed, that support from family/partners is far more common than we realize because it's not something that's always obvious, or even consistent. The editor is right: such support often makes it possible to continue limping along, staying on the dance floor til the last, as the second column suggests, eating ramen and earning little or nothing for your work until something finally breaks through. Isn't that essentially the lifestyle the grant process perpetuates?
Here's a perspective to consider: family support can be inconsistent, conditional, and even, in extreme cases, a form of financial abuse. I know there are artists out there who have emotionally supportive families who can also provide financial support, and sometimes those artists become tides that lift the boats around them and help grow their artistic community. While I've been envious of such support myself, I do realize there are positives to having that money coming into our arts communities.
But another side of that is financial support that comes from a manipulative/controlling family member, support that is inconsistent, conditional, and ultimately drains the receiver more than it helps. Sometimes someone who seems to have family money available to them is doing the gig-economy hustle because they need to get out from under the control of a manipulative family member. What may look like free money to outsiders might actually cost more than an artist is willing to pay in the long run. Just some ramen noodles for thought.