My Parents Give Me $28,000 a Year to Work in the Arts

By E.J. Roller
Not long ago, my wife, a composer, asked me if I would ever advise a student from a low-income family to pursue a career in the arts. I am a writer, librettist, and an arts and literature teacher. I thought the answer was obvious. “If a student were really passionate and talented, she’d figure out a way.” That’s always been something my parents told me. “Think about what you’d do if money were no object, and then work hard. You’ll find a way to make money.” She responded: “Your parents give you $28,000 a year. They paid for your tuition. They made it possible for you to do what you’d do if money were no object — because money was no object for you.” We want diverse voices in the arts. But we don’t like to talk about money. [More]