This past weekend my children participated in a wonderful workshop taught by the star of Newsies, Corey Cott. While sitting outside the workshop at a bustling studio in the theatre district, I met some LOVELY parents. Meeting these folks who had trekked in from all over the Northeast really was a good reminder to me about the financial commitment “the biz” is for families. One family in particular was from outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The mom and dad brought their thirteen year old daughter on the bus to NYC just for the day to do this workshop. They weren’t even able to stay overnight, but were headed back home on the bus in a bit of a snowstorm at eight p.m. that same evening. They told me this was her big Christmas gift. Wow! I had started to take all of these classes and workshops in abundance in NYC for granted. I started to forget that not everyone has the means to pay for expensive classes and training. So many moms and dads must make significant financial sacrifices to give their children these opportunities. My husband and I certainly pour all of our extra money into the kids’ activities, but just the mere fact we live in NYC makes these classes and training much more affordable than kids from out of town. And, unfortunately, in most anything, it does take money to make money.
This is not a “hobby” or pursuit that comes inexpensively to anyone, regardless of geography. Dance lessons, singing lessons, vocal coaching, acting classes, head shots, web sites, subway fare, dance shoes and clothes, audition clothes, flights to auditions, workshops…..The list goes on. Now here is the irony, there have actually been times when I spent more money on the training for an audition or transportation than the job itself paid, but remember for us, it’s about the experience. The expenses in a year can run into the tens of thousands per child. This is the truth. Not all families spend this much on training and whatnot, but for kids training and auditioning often, as well as kids who fly in for auditions, it is very easy to hit this financial mark.
Here is how my husband and I rationalize the expense; it is part of our kids’ education. Our kids are honing their craft and having a lot of fun in the process. Honestly, too, the children pay for a portion of their own classes with their earnings as it is a legitimate and necessary tax write off for them.
My point is that it does cost money for the kids to be in this business. You can cut corners on head shots or dance shoes, but I would not cut short their training. I always say that you get what you pay for in a teacher. A great teacher should be expensive because they are worth it! And, as my children got more involved in the business, so did their expenses. Not all of this has to come at once, for example, their websites were added after they had gained some experience, and now they are excellent marketing tools that increase their visibility.
After leaving that workshop on a beautiful winter day, I felt a sense of gratitude for the experiences we can provide our kids. I also felt humbled by the parents who had made evident sacrifices to give their kids the same enriching day of training.