A Place to Turn to Make a Change

Musicians' Assistance Program

Volume CIV, No. 10October, 2004

Matt Kudish

In an ideal world, each of us will be fortunate to find a meaningful career that also generates an income adequate to meet our expenses. In most cases, individuals make a conscious decision to pursue a specific career within a chosen field. This is not so, generally speaking, for musicians and other artists.

This decision, it seems, is almost made for, rather than by, entertainment industry professionals — the need to perform, to express oneself, can be so strong that there seems to be no choice to make. The connection between music and performer frequently runs so deep that the need to play — that indescribable, intangible, visceral need — is the driving force behind fulfillment. It may seem as if nothing else in the world could possibly feel as rewarding, or that anything else would pale in comparison.

Of course, there are those who have careers in the music industry that are fulfilling and also provide an income that meets, or better yet exceeds, their expenses.

But others, who may be just as artistically satisfied, may have a more difficult time making ends meet financially.

Sometimes, regardless of how fulfilled one is artistically, a career in the music industry simply does not generate enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Others may find that they have that same deep love and need for music mentioned earlier, but also are drawn by additional interests for which they feel just as passionate. And still others, for whatever reason, find that music no longer provides the same sense of fulfillment and joy it once did.


What can be done about a heart full of music and an empty wallet? How can someone have two distinct, equally important careers simultaneously? Is it possible to transition from a career in music to a new career that is just as rewarding and fulfilling?

A great place to look for answers to these questions, and many others, is the Actors’ Work Program, a project of the Actors’ Fund.

Try not to be turned off by the name — you need not be an actor.

The Actors’ Work Program is a career-counseling center for all members of the entertainment industry. The program offers artists the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to securing meaningful employment while remaining active in the business, or to explore another career.

Entertainment industry professionals already possess many of the skills necessary to secure employment in a variety of fields and the Actors’ Work Program can help individuals recognize these skills, obtain new ones, and be qualified for work that is both meaningful and financially rewarding.

In order to begin utilizing the services of the Actors’ Work Program, one must attend an orientation session where you will become acquainted with the various activities available to program participants. These activities include:

  • Individual Career Counseling: meet one-on-one with a career counselor to develop your individual career plan.
  • Job Search: Weekly session to find out about current job openings and learn strategies for getting the job you want.
  • Résumé and Interview Workshop: A two-part workshop held each month to assist program participants with résumé preparation, interview techniques and job search strategies.
  • Career Search Spotlight and other seminars: These programs introduce participants to numerous sideline career options including computers and teaching, and also address issues such as returning to school, time management skills, and other relevant topics.
  • Computer Lab: Computers are available for participants to practice computer skills or use the typing tutorial.
  • Classes: Offerings include computer (keyboard, Word, Excel, Power Point), proofreading, ESL teacher preparation, and Arts-in-Education.

Acknowledging and accepting that sideline employment may be necessary is not always an easy thing to do. Nor is making the transition from one career to another.

If you are dealing with any of these issues, are interested in more information on the Actors’ Work Program, or just want to talk, the Musicians’ Assistance Program is here for you. Contact the MAP office at (212) 397-4802.

Matt Kudish, MSW, recently completed a year-long stint with the Musicians’ Assistance Program.