“No pressure.” Said no one who chose to pursue a career in classical voice.
If you’ve spent over half your life honing your skills, a good percentage of your own savings on training and are used to performing before a panel, then the feeling of pressure is probably the norm. As we progress on this crazy journey the stakes only grow, as does our investment! Opera requires persistence, commitment and dedication, especially in the early professional stage. The eventual but compulsory move overseas is a likely leap to take for a young singer. So that’s where I’m at right now, well at least where I’m trying be. If, like me, you’ve been accepted into a prestigious overseas institution – then major props to you! But just know the celebrations and euphoria that initially come with this news will be inevitably juxtaposed by a harsh reality check. Those panic inducing thoughts that you’ve tried to push to the back of your mind, about whether this is remotely financially viable, will soon become impossible to suppress. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking; I’m not about to write a pessimistic article or a discouraging one. I will however, discuss the overwhelming but unavoidable stage that I am currently living through.
There seems to be a stigma attached to writing about the efforts we take to reach milestones, whether they are personal or professional. People only appear to be comfortable opening up post-achievement. I guess this is because it feels safe when we know where we’re going and the unknown makes us slightly uncomfortable and afraid. However, there should be no shame in trying as hard as possible and being transparent about our efforts. Shame shouldn’t be the byproduct of putting every ounce of yourself into pursuing what you believe to be your best next step. So I guess my point is, if you give up before beginning to try, you will stay in the same place, as you have made no effort to move at all.
For me, this uncertain state I’m in right now feels like an unnerving kind of ‘limbo’ between my present and future. The days and weeks feel as though they are moving slower than ever as I await results of grant applications and sponsorship opportunities. Unfortunately though, waiting is a large part of this process and anxiety during these periods is something that can’t be avoided! There comes a time though where your future is no longer in your hands and you have done all you can do. The best pieces of advice I can give to those striving to secure funding for their masters (or anything really), is to be as proactive, creative and head strong as possible when it comes to different fundraising strategies.
Honestly, there are so many avenues available to help set you on the path to achieving your goals. The obvious ones are grants; apply for as many as you are eligible for, then there’s online fundraising, such as my Cardiff Campaign which I created through the Australian Cultural Fund. The not so obvious, but necessary routes to follow are network based.
I compiled a list of literally every potential donor I had a personal connection to (organistations/individuals), and wrote a personal letter reaching out and focusing on the place I’d been given to study under Dennis O’Neill CBE at the Wales International Academy of Voice (WIAV). I then did the same with those who I did not know personally but felt would be interested in helping me because they had helped others like me in the past. If you go about this with integrity, professionalism and sensitivity, you will be pleasantly surprised by the positive responses you receive and opportunities that arise from opening up to the arts community. The last important platform to utilise is social media (I might even be sneakily doing that right now). The reality is, we live in a digitally charged world and have an extraordinary ability to target an audience and market ourselves to the right demographic, all at the click of a button.
From my perspective, even though I don’t know if I’ll be able to accept my place at WIAV, I’ll be sure I did everything in my power to give myself the chance to. Remember – you can only control so much – don’t try and control the uncontrollable! Most importantly, make time to enjoy life and if you feel yourself obsessing over the unknown: stay distracted! So, the words, ‘No pressure’ might be a sick joke to people pursuing a career in the arts, but I think the feeling of regret would last much longer.
It’s sad that many deserving singers have been recognised for their talent and undeniable commitment to their craft but feel they can’t source the financial support required to fulfill a spot they’ve spent years working towards. It’s even sadder that people give up before even beginning to try. At the end of the day, no one ever got anywhere without putting themselves out there or taking risks. Don’t stop trying – you owe it to yourself to be bold, be vulnerable and be fearless. You might not succeed, but what if you do?
Monique Simone has set up a fundraising page where you can donate and help this local Australian girl reach her dreams. You can access this by clicking the photo below!
Written by Monique Simone