What motivates artist to carry on?

Working in the creative industry is characterized by a high level of uncertainty. It is a volatile and demanding environment to work in. There is an ever decline in available budget within this sector, working days are long, and short-term projects are common practice. At first this being true for performing arts, like artist, dancers and designers, the uncertainty now spreads to more and more supporting functions. What motivates people to carry on working in this field? Boukje Cnossen, Ellen Loots and Arjen van Witteloostuijn try to answer this question based on research.

Basic needs
We all know moments in which our motivation to get to work is high, as well the time it has sunk to an unprecedented low. These are the occasions in which you work on your projects in a healthy and effective way, or look reluctantly at all that has to be done. Three important basic needs prove to be of great influence on your motivation:

  1. You possess the skills and competences to do something or are able to learn to do so.
  2. You have the freedom and ability to make your own choices.
  3. You’re feeling related to (and acknowledge by) your social environment.

Whenever these three basic needs are met, it doesn’t only improve your motivation, but also you performance and satisfaction in your work.

Intrinsic and extrinsic
Another distinction can be made between intrinsic en extrinsic motivation. Roughly stated, extrinsically motivated people perform activities in order to be valued for them by the outside world. Intrinsically motivated people draw their motivation from their joy and the possibility to discover and learn new things. The intrinsic motivation is responsible for creativity and passion. Characteristics the average entrepreneur in the creative industry also has or likes to have.

The three basic needs are linked to these two forms of motivation. The statement reads, the better these three basic needs are met, the greater someones intrinsic motivation to handle things at hand.

Acknowledgement, not money
The creative industry is an excellent place for these three basic needs to be expressed. Many creative entrepreneurs are autonomous, are substantially strong and feel relatedness with others. People working in the creative industry are, as might be expected accordingly, more intrinsically, than extrinsically motivated to do their work. The uncertainty and the absence of greater financial awards don’t keep them from remaining active in this sector.

Relatively many people still seem to be in need of extrinsic motivation to carry on, even though they believe in their own abilities. This extrinsic motivation isn’t expressed in financial rewards, but by acknowledgements of others working in the same sector for example. Which is reflected in the feeling of being of importance to other and the feeling of being accepted, whether by an audience or by door others in the same profession. Without this acknowledgement, the motivation to carry on working in the creative industry will soon fade away, despite the measure in which many entrepreneurs enjoy their jobs.