WildnFree can’t just bang on about a new song after reading the distressing results of world-first research report Working In The Australian Entertainment Industry. No, she cannot.
Conducted by Entertainment Assist in partnership with Melbourne’s own Victoria University, the research project takes a seriously hard look at the wellbeing of those Australians who work, create and perform in the entertainment industry. In the executive summary, the reports authors state plainly on page number one:
“These findings strongly suggest the entertainment and cultural industry is in severe distress.”
Goddamn it. If even musicians, artists, writers, dancers, actors and everyone else are fucked, we’re all fucked. To really understand the world of your favourite Aussie artists, make sure you read the report. It strips away all the gloss and glamour and exposes some distressing truths. Like this one:
Culture: Contrary to previous anecdotal evidence that the creative industry is a site where the collective is a supportive environment – that is, like a family who take care of each other — in depth interviews revealed a toxic, bruising work environment, extremely competitive, evidence of bullying, sexual assault, sexism and racism which is ignored or dealt with inadequately. (p2)
Sounds like the average Australian workplace, but it’s distressing just the same.
And this one:
Suicidality: Suicidality, including suicide ideation, suicide planning and suicide attempts are extremely high for those in the entertainment and creative industries compared to the general population. Suicide ideation is 6 times greater, suicide planning is more than 4 times greater, and suicide attempts are more than double the general population. (p4) In light of the loss of Fergus Miller after a battle with depression, this finding is even more terribly and shockingly pertinent.
On page 167, Entertainment Assist offers the following conclusions: “However, those in the creative industries in Australia must negotiate their survival, and allow their creative achievements to flourish whilst under the serious pressures shown in this report – for example, work insecurity, financial pressure, mental health issues, drug and alcohol use, suicidal behaviour and lack of social support. It may well be that there is no choice to be taken, as many of the participants reported their work was the ‘purpose of their lives’, they could not do any other kind of work, and their work was ‘who they were’.”
Which is all sadly wonderful. We need artists and songwriters and musicians and writers and courageous people who pursue their deepest passions and dreams, despite the overwhelming pressure to conform to the 9-5 slave ethic.
But, can we please find a way to support each other? Instead of drowning under anxiety (AKA fear), depression (AKA despair) and drug use (AKA pain relief), and suffering through the relentlessly ill-informed suggestions to “seek support from (underfunded and utterly inadequate) services”, can’t we just be kinder, more welcoming, more forgiving, more inclusive, more connected and more loving? Can we stop fucking each other over? Can we stop friending each other on Facebook and actually talk to each other?
WildnFree herself is fed up with the almost exclusively digital nature of her connections to the entertainment industry, and rues experiencing the weird, blank indifference of too many industry Facebook friends bumped into at random gigs. Can we be actual friends? Otherwise, it’s all too cruel and unbearable.
WildnFree thinks mental health is in need of a decent second wave feminism moment. Let’s wake up, the personal is political. Ask yourself – why are we all depressed? Why are we all anxious? Why are we all suicidal? Why do courageous artists suffer so much? Why are we all so fucked up?
Who benefits? Could it be the banks? The corporations? The 1%?
Start asking those questions and we all may end up feeling less shit, less isolated, less alone, less unwell and hopefully, far more powerful and in control of our own creative potential.
No songs tonight. Just read the report and send love, support and understanding to your favourite musos. Looks like they need it.