The top athletes get picked for Rep teams…but what happens to the most talented young artists? They are often met with family encouragement to go get a real job.
And with stats like the ones just teased out by NZ On Air and Creative NZ it is no wonder. Artists earn pretty much half of what normal workers earn and the pay gap widens if you are a female artist.
So well-meaning adults often try to steer their kids into something practical. And our communities lose out because some of our most promising talents ends up in jobs that rob their potential.
Mandi Lynn the founder of Every Body is a Treasure Trust knows this experience first hand. She was a talented young artist who won awards for her work from seven years of age. But her family really wanted her to make sure she could look after herself and encouraged her to go to nursing school. She did and worked as an obstetrical nurse until she was in her mid-thirties and then found that she was suffering from depression. “My belly was full. But not my soul.” So she took a risk and opened her own photography studio in 2009 as a single mother. “I didn’t want my kid to learn from me how to give up on his dreams. I wanted him to see what it looked like to go for it.” And she did. She is now a film director and a previous winner of New Zealand’s Creative Photographer of the year.
Her studio is thriving. In 2018 she used funds from it to start a charity that focuses on youth mental wellness and creative resilience.
Last term with help from Auckland Airport trust she started a program for young creatives called the HeArtivists at Manurewa Highschool.
“It happened a bit by accident. I was there doing a photoshoot at Manurewa High of the Rewa Allstars girls. It was there that I met Rosie, one of the dancers, who also wanted to be a film director. I asked her why and she said that she was sick of seeing stories told about the kids of South Auckland that only showed one side. She wanted to tell the beautiful stories that she saw. I had to help her after hearing that. “
The South Auckland HeArtivists program is designed to support young artists with social conscience. She is now looking for local adult artists, youth workers, teachers, and parents to train to be mentors and facilitators in the program. “The adult program helps the community to look at their own biases about what is possible for creative kid and to put on their own oxygen mask first. Often people shut down their creative kids for the best of reasons, this is a way to see a new way to support the kids.”
The course is fee free and only requires the commitment to pay it forward into the community. There is space for 20 artists in the pilot round.