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Rebecca Kennedy pulls her hair out as she tries to get a job in the Arts in Ireland.

 I recently applied for a job. Nothing new there, I apply for at least four jobs a week. But…this one was different. It was the kind of job that only came about once every blue moon. The kind of job you would commit to and spend the rest of your life with. The kind of job that you would try and be a better person for just because you knew it deserved nothing less. Yes, ladies and gentlemen I applied for a job in the Arts. An assistant job in the Arts but the Arts none the less. Oh and I wanted it badly. So when the reasonable time to let candidates know they were being shortlisted rolled around and I heard nothing the familiar sense of unease set in.  Had my application been missed? Had my cover letter sounded too needy? Had I forgotten to put my name on the application…..again?


It’s a vicious and yet all-too-familiar cycle. I prepare, research, and conduct imaginary interviews with myself in the bath (which I do very well in). And then I hear nothing. But that’s what you get when you work in the Arts, elusive jobs and constant dead-ends. And I hate to sound like a hateful ex, but the job wasn’t that magnificent anyway. Sure the salary was passable but it could hardly be considered decent….anywhere outside of Romania.  But this is also something you have to accept when you work in the Arts. The majority of your life will be spent just below the poverty line. Joseph Chilton Pearse once wrote, “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”  Well I now remark that you are wrong Mr. Pearse. To live the creative life, we must lose our fear of ever being financially stable.

Throughout my entire time spent within the Arts I have always held other jobs. Right now I work part-time in soul destroying fast food chain. It’s menial, physically straining and humiliating. But then minimum wage slavery just wouldn’t be the same without taking abuse from drunken cow-eyed costumers, would it? While I attended art school I bartended in one of the roughest pubs in England.  But it all seemed worth it. One day I would work within my field with passionate colleagues.  One day I would be in an environment that treasured creative thinkers and rewarded hard work. One day I would not have to utter the words……would you like fries with that?

But I keep struggling on. We keep struggling on. The Creative Arts might have suffered remarkable damage during the recession but that didn’t mean the Irish artists flocked elsewhere. We are still here. Clinging to what remains of artistic Ireland. This fact nearly caused me stroke-like symptoms when I rang to enquire, had the assistants job been filled?  No it hadn’t, as it turned out. The application deadline had been extended due to a flood of applicants. “Over one thousand” teased an overly cheery secretary while I struggled with heart palpitations at the other end of the phone. One thousand candidates or in other words….one thousand competitors.

The Arts may be a cruel mistress but she appears to have many lovers.


Rebecca Kennedy is a recent graduate of the Kidwelly School of Art.  She is currently trying to find work within the Arts, which is proving to be tremendously difficult.  She says she writes because she has too much to say and no one to listen to her.

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