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3 Myths About Artists and Social Workers Making Money- and the Importance of Knowing Our Worth

65874640_720575448377251_8649302378744381440_nLike many creatives, I have multiple career interests, gifts, and talents. Instead of succumbing to the pressure to fit myself into a single box, I have allowed my heart, spirit, and interests to guide me, and the path has been sweet.  Let me be clear-it’s been rocky at times, but the path has been sweet. As a professional artist,  I have built my art practice upon a foundational career in Social Work: a profession whose core values are service, social justice, recognizing the dignity and worth of others, integrity, competence and elevating the importance of human relationships. Artists center their work from creativity, a desire to contribute to the greater world, and from a need to express themselves beyond words. As a textile artist, I recognize that our patriarchal society sometimes devalues the work of women, which is relationship-centered, “emotional” and often service-oriented. Many artists, social workers, and women succumb to the myth that we should not make money-that the act of helping/creating is enough. Let’s talk about a few of those  many myths:

Myth No.1- Artists, human service workers, women should place service above making money. It’s the altruistic thing to do.

Some feel the more impoverished and unpopular an artist is, the better their work will be. Working in obscurity is often seen as a badge of honor. We rally and cheer underground artists who struggle and barely survive before “making it big”. Many human service, and social justice and advocates believe service and sacrifice are their own rewards. I’ve heard some of my friends and colleagues in these fields state that asking for more in terms of compensation is being greedy. These are limiting beliefs. Having enough money is important in creative and service work. We need money to keep our lights on, to keep a roof over our heada…to purchase the supplies and resources we need to do our best work.  Money purchases another season to create, to make change, provides fuel to help us stay in the fight. It also provides time which gives us more freedom of choice.

Myth No. 2- I’m lucky to be an artist, or I am more fortunate than many of those I help; therefore I don’t deserve to make a lot of money.

Just because we have the ability to work according to our passions does not preclude being adequately paid. People in all sorts of professions-lawyers, doctors, architects, also feel fortunate to do meaningful work. Artists, social workers, human service workers are excellent managers excelling in a myriad of executive tasks. Consider all the planning, designing, and delivery of projects and programs on timelines. In the for-profit sector, these are all considered executive tasks.

Myth No. 3- If I keep my financial life vague, secret, and if I pay no attention to my numbers my situation will eventually change for the better.

You have made great art. You have created strong programs, you have sacrificed for the greater good against great financial odds, no matter how you found a way to do it. But here’s the thing- the more you know about yourself and your finances, the more you can bring the resources you need to your life and work. A small amount of regular attention, pertinent information and strategies will transform our financial lives. Having a Personal Financial Success Plan accesses resources and allows us to get face to face with our numbers. This is an integral part of our personal and financial transformation.

So, let’s put the myths to bed. Once we clear away the negative influences and the naysaying voices (including our own) and get up close and personal with our real numbers we can negotiate better, and bring more support to the work that is so meaningful to us.

Having a Personal Financial Success Plan (PFSS) not only helps us individually, but it helps advance our professions as a whole. The more of us who know and can explain what our work is worth, what our time and needs actually cost- the better the chance all of us have to be paid according to our value.

If you would like to share comments about this blog post, or for more information about having a Personal Financial Success Plan, kindly email me at artist@seesunya.online





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