Why a blog?

Why did I decide to write this blog? I guess because I have worked as an artist for a while now, in many different contexts, and I have never read a blog like this and I have never really heard a conversation around class and privilege in the art world – not in any real sense anyway. I wanted to write this blog because I am sure others experience the same things I do, and we should discuss them openly. I also feel like the obstacles and difficulties relating to class in the art world are often small and might seem in-significant as they happen, but over time they accumulate. I was hoping this would be a record of these small actions and how they build up over time.
So, here’s the first story
Like most artists, I have a lot going on. I have a job to support myself, I am doing a part time PhD (self funded), I am making and promoting my art with all that involves of writing proposals, looking for opportunities and posting regularly on social media…
I got involved in a project a couple of months ago. I am usually upfront with my situation, how much time I can contribute and that I need to fit some things around my paying work. Despite this, there seemed to be a lot of demands on my time when I was at work, and there also seemed to be a certain demand for me to be available when other people where, to reply immediately to emails, texts etc. I didn’t think much of it – projects often have a phase when they get very intense and I assumed it would calm down after a few weeks.
I was asked to make some time to meet with the gallery involved and happily shared my diary with the rest of the team. To give a bit of context, my job is a lovely place to work and I have a really understanding and supportive, BUT it’s not a temp job, or even a job with flexi time. I need to be there, on time, for 8 hours a day. I need a job where I can have a dependable income (however small it is) and that comes with a certain rigidity, in my case anyway. I use most of my holiday days to go to university or events or exhibitions I am taking part in.
This time, however, I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to make a afternoon free in the next week, and that the only time the gallery was available was when I was due to work. This seems like a small thing, I know. And maybe it is. But it caused a undue level of stress – I wondered how I would get this time off work – it was to short notice, and it was a busy week when they needed me there. Should I call in sick maybe? Or lie, make up an excuse? Would I get kicked off the project if I said no? And I kept thinking BUT I TOLD YOU THIS. I told you about my time, that I work, and that I can’t get off work at really short notice. Yet apparently no one paid attention.
In the end, I left the project for other reasons, and luckily never had to try to negotiate with either work or the gallery. And the relief of that is what I remember the most of that experience.
This might seem a small thing, and something people of all different backgrounds have to negotiate, and maybe that’s true. I only have my own experience to draw on. But as I said, I am hoping this blog will highlight instances like this and their accumulation, and how that might have a relation to class, background and privilege.

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