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Sima Kumar Performing Arts, Almost Famous...

Almost Famous

As more and more people carve out their ideal careers and pursue their dreams, a trend we are seeing in the agency is that a lot more performing artists are registering for temp work. Whether it’s theatre, dance, acting or musical pursuits - individuals looking to claim their spot at the Baftas, Brits or Olivier awards are entering the world of luxury retail as temps to pay the bills, keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while chipping away at their craft.
Temping in retail provides many pluses for performing artists. As the culture in the UK is moving more towards health and wellness, not every performing artist wants to be pulling pints or creating cocktails in a pub and bar.  
For this post, I spoke to a few people who temp at luxury retailers during the day and are on stage or on set on their days off about what the benefits were. Here are some of the reasons performing artists prefer temping in retail over jobs that require them working late hours and every weekend.
  1. Sleep. Working in the day let’s performer’s sleep at night. As more and more studies point towards the short-term and long-term health benefits of sleeping - those who need to dig deep to act out a scene, perform physically through dance and sing their hearts out value rest. By temping in retail, on nights they are free as the longest shift they work is until 10pm. Days are structured and there is also a high value placed on connecting with other humans who are simply going about their day. Co-workers and customers. At some point, each of the people I spoke to got fed up of always talking to drunk people.
  1. Opportunity. Specifically to perform. Actors especially have hacked the interactions on the retail sales side to practice multiple scenarios. They view being consultants as an opportunity to try out different angles of presenting luxury goods and engaging clients. Interacting with customers from various cultural backgrounds also exposed actors to practising accents with more authenticity. Being able to add these skills to their skill set on casting sites meant they increased the net of opportunity with casting directors.  Essentially it’s scene work. The sheer variety of clients provides ample opportunity for an actor to increase their range. One retail temp spoke of the extensive training received, especially at a luxury brand. She viewed this training as memorising lines and sharing the product and brand knowledge onto customers as time on stage. Not surprisingly, the intention behind how she shows up for her shifts has resulted in her being a top performing when it comes to sales.
  1. Flexibility. When it comes to auditions, artists are rarely called in the day of. Therefore, temping provides the flexibility required for performing artists to make it to auditions during the day. Their job security stays intact because they simply let the agency know they aren’t available. When it comes to musicians, an individual or a band must pay for studio space for recording sessions and rent for rehearsal spaces. By taking up temping, evenings are free for upcoming gigs, and artists report they are more creative in the evening hours, making writing songs more fluid at night. The fiscal aspect is hiring a studio or renting a rehearsal space in the evening hours is often a lot more cost effective than booking in during the day. 
  1. Networking. Working in the world of luxury retail means engaging with a global customer with a considerable amount of money to spend on items beyond the reach of most people. This affluence is connected to more potent opportunities to connect with people of influence. One temp reported a client flying him and his band to Dubai to perform at a birthday party after an exchange of selling luxury watches. His knowledge of the mechanics of how the watch works and is made led to a conversation that led to a mutual love for string instruments. With luxury, customer service is often 30 min. minimum and up to two to three hours per customer. Consultants become advisors and conversations lead not only to sales conversions but, in this case, concerts too.
  1. Quality of life. We all know someone pursuing an artistic career. We all have that friend who lays it all on the line to audition, gig and train their body to make their dreams come true. For every performing artist - there are a dozen friends who have normal lives, with normal jobs within the normal working hours. The performers I spoke to each mentioned how important it was to be able to have time to connect with their friends. Their dreams have an emotionally taxing aspect to it. Being around friends and family to receive support, share stories, talk about the ups and downs of experiences provided a sense of balance in their lives. Whilst each person noted when they went for the first and more obvious choice of working in a bar, pub or restaurant - their lives felt isolated, their hours were upside down and the overall quality of their lives and connections felt distorted.
There are two specific takeaways I got out of researching and writing this post.
Brands really enjoy taking on performing artists as temp retail staff. They come with a built-in passion and purpose. Expectations are transparent on both sides as the performing artists share their goals and dreams and hiring managers become invested in working with those individuals to make their dreams a reality. There is no ‘playing the game’ to move higher up the ladder within the brand. This means hiring managers can focus on building the fashion careers of the those wanting a career in fashion while the artists as temp workers bring their all to the shop floor as they are grateful for an opportunity to earn an income that supports rather than takes away from their ability to pursue their bigger goals.
From both the client and candidate side, it was evident the team at Directory, specifically co-founders Younus Desai and Javid Pathan, were both called out for an above and beyond attention to detail and personalised care for their clients and their temp candidates. Brands and temp staff mentioned across the board that both co-founders really engage and invest in the relationships they build. In the fickle world of fashion and the ever-changing landscape of recruitment, that kind of social proof speaks volumes!
If you are a performing artist or pursuing a lofty career goal while needing a side hustle to make ends meet, contact the team at Directory today.
Email and check the website for vacancies.