Control what you can

The week in Creative Money - 22 July, 2021

Creative Money aims to have an open conversation about finances in the creative industries. 

It was founded in July, 2020 in an attempt to address a frustrating lack of relatable financial guidance for creative workers and is written by me, Matt Parker, a music journalist and lecturer.

Hello! It seems there’s a lot of worry in the creative industries right now. Everywhere I look I seem to see musicians wavering over tour dates, freelancers getting shafted or theatre workers fretting about the ping that could halt a production.

Even as I was pulling together the news round-up for this newsletter, it struck me that it is not the most positive selection of stories.

It is completely understandable that we’re feeling like this currently and, like everything, it’s not going to get better quickly. In thinking about what might actually prove helpful to people at this point, I remembered Stephen Covey’s concept of circles of concern and influence.

You might know it already and think it’s self-help mumbo jumbo or you might, like me, find it helpful.

The circle of concern as Covey defines it, contains the things that are currently worrying you. For instance: family, health, getting pinged, work issues, paying rent, the climate crisis, the entirety of the UK government. I’ll let you draw up your own list.

Covey says: “As we look at that list, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about.”

He says you can group these latter things within your ‘circle of influence’.

People tend to find they can deal with their worries better if they focus on the circle of influence. It shows us the areas in which we can take some form of action and therefore exercise direct or indirect control over our own circumstances. This creates a kind of positive momentum.

Conversely, if we spend too much time thinking about the circle of concern, our ability to influence things in our own lives shrinks. We become more controlled by those worries and don’t accomplish much (me, when I’m reading news apps).

Money and work are no exceptions to this rule. I dread to think how many hours I spent stress-reading news about existential threats to journalism and my future income, before I started a pension or emergency fund.

The same goes for the time spent envying other writers’ juicy commissions instead of writing pitches and sending emails (still happening).

By being proactive in the areas we can control, we feel better, make a genuine difference to our lives and start to fret less about things that are outside of our circle of influence.

It seems obvious but in the heat of the moment we often forget this stuff. There’s plenty of concerns and uncertainty amid the creative industries and beyond right now, but there’s always some areas over which you can assert some influence. Focus on those things now and you’ll thank yourself later.

Until next time,


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What do you need to know this week?

  1. “I find it really insulting when people expect me to work for free” – Otegha Uwagba lays bare the inequities of the creative industry (It’s Nice That)

  2. How to take a more ethical approach to your personal finances (i)

  3. Mortgages refused for self-employed who took Covid grants (BBC)

  4. Are you ‘under-pensioned’? A growing number of women are, here’s what you can do about it (Glamour)

  5. For U.K. Bands, Touring Europe Is Now a Highway to Brexit Hell (NYT)

And finally, recent Twitter faves…

Funding and development opportunities for UK creative workers

Liverpool Without Walls outdoor events grants

Liverpool-based organisations can bid for grants of up to £20,000, to help them deliver outdoor arts and creative events which will encourage audiences back in to the city, showcase new talent and support Liverpool’s reputation as a city renowned for staging performances and festivals. Deadline: 25 July, 2021

Creative England Female Founders Scale Up

For ambitious female founders of screen-based companies. The programme will equip female entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence to scale their business and form a cohort of female business leaders across the regions. Deadline: 30 July, 2021

Summer Summit camping retreat for LGBTQIA+ artists

An opportunity for a group of UK-based, early-career artists to explore queer performance practice via a paid rural residential retreat in September. Includes a free weekend of workshops, travel contribution and £70 per day honorarium fee. Deadline: 30 July, 2021

BRITS apprentice scheme

The BRITs Apprentice Scheme is back for a third round and is now recruiting for ten apprentices to take up fifteen-month paid placements with independent record labels and music companies. Deadline: 31 July, 2021

SICK! Festival micro commissions

A fund of £6,000 for 1-3 projects by early career artists in Greater Manchester/the North West. Invites applications from artists whose work crosses boundaries between performance, visual art, literature, film, music and digital practices. Deadline: 2 August, 2021

The South London Gallery Postgraduate Residency

A six-month live-in residency that enables the production of a new body of work and a rare opportunity for an early-career artist to exhibit within an internationally renowned institution, includes £4,000 artists fee and a £3,500 production budget. Deadline: 2 August, 2021

NETWORK@LFF (London Film Festival) 2021

Will support 12 trailblazing UK-based writers, directors and producers with an intensive programme of masterclasses, screenings, events and industry insights. Includes accreditation for the duration of the festival. Deadline: 2 August, 2021

George Blunden Public Art Prize

The winning artist will be commissioned to create public art for five of Stonewater’s developments and awarded the prize of £75,000 for their creativity, project management and scoping out the pieces. Deadline: 6 August, 2021

PRS Foundation Sustaining Creativity Fund

Designed for Black music creators experiencing hardship from loss of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Offers grant support of £750 to allow creators to spend time writing, recording, collaborating, innovating and making creative plans. Deadline: 10 August, 2021

Saffron Artist Development Project

Scheme looking to support six black women and non-binary music creators based in South West England on a programme of personal development, centred around a paid commission from MSCTY. Deadline: 25 August, 2021

BBC Sounds Audio Lab

Amplifying next generation podcast creatives. Giving six audio creatives the funding and support to make the next podcast everyone needs to hear. Includes funding, training/mentoring, marketing and promotion. Deadline: 29 August, 2021

NYCGB Young Composers scheme

Supports composers in the early stages of their career, who are committed to developing as professional composers for vocal ensembles. Offers residential courses, workshops, peer and professional mentoring, digital releases and performance showcases, plus £500 innovation grant. Deadline: 31 August, 2021

Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award

A free open call across the UK we are seeking to discover 10 outstanding artists whose work demonstrates a strong and original voice, and is of exceptional artistic quality. Offers £10,000 cash prize and £5,000 runner-up prize. Deadline: 31 August, 2021

Royal Television Society Bursaries

Awarded to students from less-affluent backgrounds who demonstrate potential and determination. They must be studying TV Production and Journalism or related subjects, or degrees such as Physics, Maths and Computer Science. Offers mentoring and £1,000 per academic year of study. Deadline: 1 September, 2021

Future Bubblers artist development scheme

A mentorship/development scheme supporting new music talent, you can apply for yourself or nominate others. Successful candidates will be paired with an industry mentor and get professional press shots/bios, an all-expenses paid induction day in London, along with a video session and compilation release. Deadline: 10 September, 2021

Society of Authors Contingency Fund
Helps writers, illustrators, literary translators, scriptwriters, poets, journalists and others, whose author-related activities make up a substantial amount of their annual income. Grants range in value from £500 to £2,000. Deadline: ongoing

ArtCry grants
ArtCry is setup to provide a rapid turnaround of funding for art works responding to current events. Grants of up to £2,500 with a panel of artists, activists, creators and producers making decisions on applications within a week. Deadline: ongoing

Help Musicians Hardship Fund
The third phase of one of the major support funds for musicians is now open and will support successful applicants with a monthly top-up until September 2021. Deadline: ongoing

Royal Variety Charity Financial Assistance grants
The Royal Variety Charity is uniquely positioned to provide financial assistance to anyone who serves any facet of the Entertainment Industry. Deadline: ongoing

The White Pube Writers Grant funded by Creative Debuts
£500 given out monthly to a working class writer based in the UK. This grant has been set up to support writers of all ages who are early in their careers and would benefit from this no-strings attached financial support to help them in whatever they like. Deadline: ongoing

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