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An Emerging Artist’s Finances – passive income project part 1

August 4, 2012 1 comment

I am striving to be a financially literate artist.

I want to be able to devote as much of my time and energy as I can toward creating great theatre and penning strong writing. Pesky things like groceries and rent, however, do tend to get in the way. And while I am able to keep my expenses low, and I am currently on my first paying theatre contract, I will still be returning to my part-time Joe job in Vancouver as I search for more performing work. (I admit, I do have an awesome, flexible, Joe job, but it’s still not my end career desire.)

Since graduating last April, I have been able to perform in/stage-manage/direct/write at least 21 different plays or short films, working with brilliant companies ranging from Fighting Chance to the Metro Theatre, and with Festivals ranging from Victoria and Vancouver Fringe festivals to the UFV’s Director’s Festival, to (currently) the Kelowna Summer Theatre Festival. Almost all of these were unpaid opportunities (or break-even ones) that I’ve used to grow as a performer and introduce myself to the Vancouver theatre community. I’ve been able to use my time in this way because I currently live off less than a thousand dollars a month through a mix of careful budgeting and control of expenses. Here’s a sample month’s expenses for me:

  • 200$ : Groceries
  • 300$ : Rent (to live in officespace at the most southern tip of Richmond)
  • 70$ : Professional development (theatre tickets, headshots, etc.)
  • 80$ : Spending money
  • 60$ : Transit
  • ~20$ : Cellphones (pay-as-you-go plans in Vancouver and Victoria)
  • + a portion of yearly budgeted costs for things like bike repair, clothing, dentistry, medical
  • + 10% of earnings to Tithing

Adding it all together, I come up with something called my ‘freedom wage’, which is to say, the amount I need to earn per month, after which I can spend the rest of my time that month doing what I wish (which could include more active-work-for-pay, but doesn’t need to). Let’s somewhat pessimistically put it at 900$. At my current part-time minimum wage job, that amounts to about 12 full-day shifts, or three work days per week.

Cover of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Ri...Earlier this week I picked up and read a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. While the latter part of the book seems out of date, what with its insistence on the stable nature of the American real estate market (yeah, that worked out well…), but most of the book focuses on the differences between income, expenses, assets and liabilities. As a quick rundown, income is the money you take in, expenses are what you spend each month, assets are things you own that earn you money (i.e. money that makes you more money, such as stocks, bonds, possibly real estate), and liabilities are things you own that cost you money (mortgage, car and boat payments, credit card debt). In the book, Kiyosaki suggests rather simplistically that there are money habits that separate individuals stuck in poverty vs. middle class vs. the rich. Essentially, the poor only have income and expenses – they buy food and shelter and whatnot and that’s all they can do. The middle class, he says, take their income, pay their expenses, and then purchase liabilities with what’s left over, such as a larger house, or a car, or that big screen TV. By contrast, he says the rich pay themselves first, BEFORE even paying expenses (to the point of creditors calling), and put that money in assets – in items that earn them more money.

Polls show distrust of public opinion

(Photo credit: jukebox909)

That then creates a positive feedback loop as the passive or portfolio income from those assets provides more income, which allows for more money to be devoted to purchasing assets, until true wealth (not needing to work anymore based on income from assets) is attained. Which isn’t so radical, really, considering how many advisors suggest putting money into savings FIRST, before paying your bills.

Before I get angry comments, yes, I think he’s being rather arrogant about how easy he thinks it is to reach out of poverty. But I’m still earning more than much of the world, so I’ll consider myself rich enough. Besides, for Kiyosaki, rich is a mindset, not a current financial statement.

At the same time as I opened up this book, I started reading through Steve Pavlina‘s passive income series (which began here), where he’s coaching his readers on how to create a passive income stream. To Pavlina, passive income is NOT about being lazy and not needing to work… it’s about being generous. In ordinary employee work-for-hire situations, you create value once for your employer and/or customer, and that’s it. When earning passive income (income that continues to accrue even when you’re not actively working), you are instead sharing value with many people (say, from royalties from something written or recorded), or with the same person many times (say, with real estate rent).

Okay, long-winded but hopefully informative intro, over. What I’m saying is, I want to try to build that asset column and earn some passive income so I can devote more of my time to creating what excites me.

So I am accepting Pavlina’s challenge, and will be slowly reading through his series, following along, and sharing my journey with you.

I also have a side-goal with this series of blog posts, which is to encourage more conversation about finances and money. For whatever reason, while we live in one of the most affluent countries in the world, there is often a stigma against discussing such things in our society. I’m not sure why. Are we afraid of looking weak when poor? Of bragging when doing well? Are we insecure when compared to the Joneses? Worried about looking like we care too much about money?

Money is a tool to help us achieve our goals and to grant us freedom to pursue what excites us. Let’s talk about what we’re doing to make that happen.

Here is my goal:

I will successfully build a new stream of passive income by December 1st, 2012, that generates at least 80$ per month on average, and endures for a minimum of five years, and I will do this in a way that inspires hope and gives value to people anywhere in the world.

What is 80$? Almost 10% of what I earn each month. One day less I need to work my Joe job each month. Feels doable, but difficult. What’s your goal? Let’s make it happen.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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Is it Career Death to Act in a Panto?

December 22, 2011 3 comments

Is it Career Death to Act in a Panto?

I was speaking with a friend yesterday about the Christmas Panto I am performing in, and she replied,

“I have never seen or done Panto because people say where I am from that it is the death of your acting career.”

 

Photo by Ariel Diaz.

I found that an odd statement.

I still feel like a fresh, naive face in the landscape, only graduating a short six months ago, so I don’t speak with any experience. Now, granted, I admit that the vast majority of Christmas Pantos out there are community theatre productions and there can be a stigma toward actors who partake in unpaid community theatre as perhaps being less than professional. Technically, this is absolutely true – that actors who aren’t getting paid aren’t doing professional work. If we define ‘professional’ as ‘getting paid for it’.

That an actor whose resume is filled with Arts Club shows will get a closer look than one topped with Fighting Chance and Panto performances is a given. That said, I would much rather work three community theatre shows (as I am midway through doing) than not act at all in that time frame. I hope that consistent performing work counts for something.

But whether or not a Panto on the resume helps me… it’s a very different situation to suggest that having such a show on my record would count against me.

I won’t deny that acting in a panto is stars apart from Chekhov, but every script has its own style. For Pantos, that happens to be in the vein of TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) shows – big, broad, out to the audience, sharing every moment with the audience. And let’s not forget the best part of Pantos – the improvising between cast and audience when a child pipes up with something adorable, or when something goes wrong onstage. There is a skill in making those side comments while still keeping the show moving; talented performers have a lot to work with in Pantos.

 

Peter Sellers

Heck, Pantos never hurt Peter Sellers, and Mickey Rooney  seems to get a kick out of them. Alright, yes, this is me cherry-picking celebrities – doesn’t prove a thing. But they make me feel better. 🙂

Again, I have no experience in this area; since graduating in June, I’m still looking for my first paying run in a theatre (outside of Fringe). No time at all in the scheme of things. But I do hope this show isn’t a mark against me, because Ali Baba is genuinely a fun show that delights hundreds and hundreds of children and adults, and while it is in some ways a long step away from how to act in a serious drama, this opportunity to play with an audience in such a direct fashion has been invaluable, the choreography a helpful challenge, and the experience thus far, a pleasure.

 

What do you think? (leave a comment!)

 

We run until January 7th if you want to check us out. Here’s the information again:

Photo by Ariel Diaz

  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves – A Christmas Pantomime! – I play Wakey Faker in this silly, funny, family-friendly funtimes pantomime, complete with Dame, singalongs, Oh-No-You-Don’ts, much musical choreography, and an audience encouraged to heckle the actors. Plus, with British parents, I needed to be in at least ONE Panto. Just had to happen. And I get to play a romantic lead! Sort of.
  • Venue: The Metro Theatre.
    The Metro’s Website.
  • Show Dates:
    Evening shows at 7.00 p.m. – Dec 22 ,23 ,26, 27 , 29 , 30 January 2,5,6,7
    Matinee shows at 2.00 p.m. – Dec 26, 27. January 1, 2, 7

Don’t be a stranger,
Andrew Wade

 

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State of the Person Address – December 2011

December 13, 2011 2 comments

Well, then!

Life has a way of quickly coming to a head. After the madcap rush that was Vancouver Fringe, my life held to a quieter pace afterwards. Working extremely sporadically, the only large project on my plate for a while was A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. And to be honest, in that timespan… I felt sluggish. Like I wasn’t pressing forward adequately, wasn’t being productive enough to meet my own standards. After that came to a close, I quickly stepped into rehearsals for The Metro’s Christmas Panto (Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves – with our preview on Thursday), but still, my plate was somewhat insubstantial.

Then in the past two weeks… how about a week of full-time training for my new part-time job at Science World, two bike flats, three auditions, two exciting job interviews (including one for voicework on a game), four Fringe Festival draws (none of which chose me, sadly), a ladyfriend event, a trip to Victoria, applications to other auditions, several job shifts after the end of training, and final Panto rehearsals.

Whew.

This has meant that other enterprises (such as signing up as an extra, finding a film/tv/commercials agent, learning how to drive) have fallen by the wayside for yet longer, at least temporarily, but I have also been pulled through a furious bout of productive and exciting living. So I’m relatively content.

If you know me, you know I prefer a busy, full, active life. 🙂

Here are a few of the projects coming up for me:

Yes, I wear one. Yes, that makes me tickled pink happy.

  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves – A Christmas Pantomime! – I play Wakey Faker in this silly, funny, family-friendly funtimes pantomime, complete with Dame, singalongs, Oh-No-You-Don’ts, much musical choreography, and an audience encouraged to heckle the actors. Plus, with British parents, I needed to be in at least ONE Panto. Just had to happen. And I get to play a romantic lead! Sort of.

    • Venue: The Metro Theatre.
      The Metro’s Website.
    • Show Dates:
      Evening shows at 7.00 p.m. – Dec 16,17 ,22 ,23 ,26, 27 , 29 , 30 January 2,5,6,7
      Matinee shows at 2.00 p.m. – Dec 17, 18, 26, 27. January 1, 2, 7

Original poster.

  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood – My second foray as an actor with Fighting Chance Productions, and my first chance to work under director Ryan Mooney. Working in the ensemble, I’m sure I’ll grow my choreography skills with this Tony-Award-winning (Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Performance of a Leading Actor in a Musical – 1985) that comes complete with multiple endings determined by audience vote.

Geodesiceriffic!

  • Science World part-timery – An incredibly flexible part-time job encouraging curiosity in children and adults in a great working environment. True, it’s minimum wage, but there are far worse ways to earn rent to allow for more theatrical endeavors. So happy to be back. 🙂

    • Venue: Telus World of Science.
      http://www.scienceworld.ca/
    • Show Dates:
      Whenever I’m scheduled!

      I made a graphic for the show! Like it?

  • The Romantics @ The You Show! – The month of May will be a busy one for my script, The Romantics, a winner of the 2011 Vancouver Young Playwrights Award. On May 12th, in Victoria as part of The You Show!, a full-length, two act version will be performed/workshopped, script-in-hand (so, a staged reading, with two or three rehearsals having taken place beforehand).

  • The Romantics @ IGNITE! Youth Festival 2012 – As part of the prize for winning the 2011 Vancouver Young Playwrights’ Award, I get to see the first act performed as a one act play at IGNITE!, full costume, with mentored young actors and director. But before that, I get to be mentored on script edits by Vancouver playwright Amiel Gladstone

  • Sin City Improv – While I’m not in Victoria anymore, I’m hoping to come back and guest-act for an episode or two, if I can, because the show is fantastic, the show is challenging, the show is hilarious, and the people are simply… family.

  • 4villains.org

    4Villains.org – I’ve been recast after they decided to move their Master Malevolent scene to a better location. But no worries! They are writing me a larger, recurring role that I should do some filming for relatively soon into the new year. The dedication this crew has for this project is nothing short of inspiring. Marvelous people. The website is up now! First episode airing later this month! Check’em out!

  • Clown Doctoring? –  Next month I have an interview to potentially become a clown doctor? Another part-time job, and it’s unlikely I’ll get it (strong competition for limited spots), but too amazing an opportunity not to want to share with you. 🙂
  • Auditions ahoy! – Aaaaand hopefully one of my recent auditions will pan out and become a paying acting opportunity – my first since graduating, outside of Fringe. Thus far, the shows I’ve been doing have been out of the kindness of my hear, for training, and just because while paid opportunities take priority, I would rather act and not be paid than not act at all. 🙂

    • Venue: Vancouver? Victoria? Vancouver Island? Alberta? Toronto? Anywhere!
    • Show Dates:
      Hopefully soon!

My summer is looking rather nebulous, with a string of Fringe Festival rejections (Okay, I just wasn’t picked out of their hats, but they still sting like rejections, a bit). Thus far, I’ve only been accepted into London, Ontario’s and Regina’s Fringe Festivals. Not enough for a tour. Winnipeg chooses next.  Hopefully, one of those paying acting opportunities panning out will make this decision for me, but if not… I need to realistically look at whether or not I would be able to break even on this Fringey endeavor, this year.
I hope to see you at the Panto! Be loud! Be grand! Stay awesome.

Cheers,
Andrew Wade

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