The Evil Imp

Pan Handling


One of the often missed services that Arts Council England provides is something called the Arts Jobs List. It’s basically an old school email bulletin. Subscribers to the list get an email when somebody, somewhere posts information to the list and it is, remarkably, free of spam.

What it is not free of is a never ending stream of people offering work in the fields of design, photography and film making (amongst others) but these people have yet to find a budget to pay for said work so instead you, the aforementioned photographer, filmmaker or designer, will be thrilled to learn that this “job” is, in fact, nothing more than a fantastic opportunity to augment your threadbare portfolio.

Here in TheLab™ we are very familiar with the word “opportunity” in relation to the dance profession. Professional dancers are often presented with tremendous “opportunities” of one sort or another but rarely does this “opportunity” provide the dancer with the “opportunity” to pay their rent, eat out, buy a car or “have a life!”

Let’s make one thing clear. Working for nothing, when you are asked to do so, is not an “opportunity” for the person doing the work it’s an “opportunity” for the person asking to get something for nothing. The person asking wants to take advantage of someone else’s skills with the faint promise of………. we’re not even sure what these people are promising to be honest.

Look at it this way. Do you imagine that an accountant would do your tax returns for free and see it as an “opportunity” to enhance their form filling and receipt sorting skills? Would the postman deliver some mail for you in the hope of augmenting their walking and carrying a heavy bag portfolio?

Altruism is rooted in volunteering. If a suitably skilled individual or organisation offers you their services for free then it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity for them to show their selfless good grace toward others by providing a service or services that may otherwise be out of reach.

When people put out “job” advertisements stating that all they are going to do is take something from you and further compound their arrogance by suggesting that by simply working for them you are being afforded all the compensation you will ever need you begin to realise just how far some sections of the arts community have become detached from the real world.

There are many in the arts who are endlessly giving. Stop insulting them by asking for everything and offering nothing in return. That goes for the entire industry, not just ACE’s email list!