Good, Bad or Both?: Worklife in the Creative Industry

When someone utters the word ‘good’, one automatically thinks of something that is satisfying. The word ‘bad’ congers up a certain amount of negativity, and words such as boredom (a few other words) come to mind.   Looking deeper into these two words in terms of the Creative Industries, a question for me arose: Is it possible that a work industry can be good while still meeting the classic definition of bad proposed in Introducing the Creative Industries?

Last Spring, I took part in the Boston University Internship Program in London and was paired up with a production company called Park Village Productions. It’s a small production company in Camden Town, with a total of ten full time staff and two studios of it’s own. My job at the company was to be a runner (production assistant) and get everyone coffee on shoot days, and then on non-shoot days, to do occasional research and go around to the various departments asking if they needed help with anything. Ninety-five percent of the time when I asked to help, it was met with ‘Thanks, Gracie, but I’m good’. But when I asked if anyone wanted coffee or tea, the answer was a resounding yes, 100% of the time. So, my ‘production assistant’ internship ended up turning into a never-ending coffee and tea run. By the end of my tenure the owner of the coffee shop down the road knew not only my name, but exactly when I would show up every shoot day. After coffees and teas were dispensed and everyone’s tummies were full, I would eagerly wait to be assigned something. When nothing came, I would spend my time walking around the studio trying to find Gary, the company owner, to play darts with me (he usually didn’t want to, though, because I was champion at Park Village). Although the reader may feel that my personal experience would fall under the category of ‘bad work’, as in constantly running for coffee and tea for the employees which then led to ‘monotony (a lack of variety; doing the same tasks over and over), boredom, isolation and overwork’ (Davies, 95). I would have to disagree with that, as evidenced by the following.

I would call what was happening at Park Village ‘good work’; employee’s job satisfaction in terms of ‘interest, involvement, sociability and work-life dynamic’ (Davies, 95). The thing that I loved most about Park Village was its family oriented dynamic. To everyone who worked there, there was a profound sense of job satisfaction. Even though things weren’t always happening in the workspace, for one reason or another, the people at Park Village and the environment still made it interesting and sociable. Some days we would eat together, there were always so many laughs, but at the same time, work was taken seriously. This was made possible because of the freedom and responsibility that was given to everyone who worked there.

I ask the question again: Is it possible that a work industry can be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ at the same time? I think that it can, and the reason lies not always in the business as a whole, but in the experiences of the workers as individuals. According to how it is defined in Introducing the Creative Industries: From Theory to Practice, my experience could be seen as bad. It wasn’t though. My role in the company, while of lesser importance, was equal in the workspace in the sense of respect. I was valued not only as a worker, but an individual as well. We all had our own responsibilities, respected them, and did a great job.

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