Sonia Said: Money, Money, Money...

By Sonia Hadj Said

...must be funny in a business world.

I learned that first at university when interviewing my postgraduate officer. He told me that Arts and Humanities are the worst-funded sectors with students almost never being able to secure any sponsors for their creative courses. As far as this might be a universal truth, one has to wonder, where does it actually come from? There is not much money in the creative sectors while business, law, technology, science, IT - go in there and you can sleep easy. That is if you know anything about it. I have already heard many suggestions that I "change my interest" or "specialise in finance", but there seems to be no understanding of what that actually means. A creative person can't just turn around and decide to pursue jobs that promise financial stability. And believe me, I tried. Most journalistic paid jobs touch upon finance, business, B2B (yes, let's make it all sound even less human) while actual newspapers and magazines have become sacred places you would die to get into.

It's difficult to explain to your interviewer why you want the job. It's because it's paid. Because you've already done your fair share of unpaid experience. Because you studied it. Because you don't want to be a customer service assistant forever. But then there it goes: what interests you in finance? Literally, absolutely nothing. Business? Naah. I went from one interview to another, all of which were places looking for journalists, only to end up with obscure analytical documents I would need to write a story on. Right now I try to ask if they are looking for someone with journalistic experience and who is willing to learn about the industry. The answer always is "knowledge in the industry is desirable, but not essential." And yet, when you are given a text you don't really understand and have 40 minutes to write a news story out of it the whole "fake it till you make it" attitude seems just stupid. In the end, it's easier to find someone who knows all the stuff they need to know and happen to write okay. There you are, a creative, trying to push your way into a job with money, because your own world, sadly, doesn't have any.


"Arts and Humanities are the worst-funded sectors"


Again, I know it's not news, but also wondering, when will it stop? Because while it's wonderful to watch the Golden Globes and Oprah Winfrey's speech of the year, nothing ever changes for artists. Movie stars are artists who succeeded on a massive scale and we should be grateful for what they have been doing with their power in the last year, but there are so many more of us and it seems, not many seats left. In the meantime, tech start-ups (had to do some research for another interview) are funded for millions and millions every day. I mean it's the kind of money I can't even begin to imagine, and technology probably needs it, and all the start-ups deserve it, but here is just a little thought that has been bothering me lately: when are we going to start living in a world that truly appreciates art? Politics have done nothing but bring wars. Technology is speeding ahead of us, producing a robot citizen of Saudi Arabia, Sophia, with more rights than actual women citizens. Art is theatre and humans. Art fights with evil through books, music and cinema. Art is pure because it is created out of sheer passion. So why are people who stick to it those who are the most punished?

In The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter's Introduction, Maurice Samuels wrote that: "In the early decades of the nineteenth century in France, a more democratic educational system and rising literacy, coupled with an entrenched gerontocracy blocking career routes in administration and business, pushed increasing numbers of young men into the literary and artistic professions." Is that what we have been doing since the nineteenth century? Pushing ourselves into professions we're not passionate about because that's where money is, or that's just what is available? Back then it was the creative areas, now it's the modern world of business and technology. And in all of this: how are we going to find our own seat?