Advice for young people looking to get into the performing arts from a veteran

WANT A CAREER: A performing arts career isn't for everyone but it takes a lot of hard work and effort. Picture: SUPPLIED

WANT A CAREER: A performing arts career isn't for everyone but it takes a lot of hard work and effort. Picture: SUPPLIED

Have you ever wanted to get into the performing arts? While it isn't as easy as it seems, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication according to musical theatre performer Peter Cousens.

"I wouldn't say I was born into it, but my family were very much part of the musical society and so it was sort of part of our household in a way," he said.

"But then I guess over the last 50 years, I've had major influences and major mentors that have that have guided me to a certain extent."

His advice for anyone wanting to enter into a performing arts environment was to make sure you have people who believe in you.

"Putting aside your own self belief, you do need people around you to look after that side of you because sustaining a career is tricky and even trickier now obviously," he said.

"It does require you to be prepared to sustain the career by not actually practicing the vocation that you committed to."

Mr Cousens said doing other things that may be related to the profession such as teaching or coaching, producing or stage management can help sustain your career.

"That doesn't delegitimise the career, but it means that you spend 20 to 30 per cent of your year doing what you're called to do and the rest of the time you are supporting that, I think that's the way the performing arts career particularly in Australia tends to unfold," he said.

"People always say for these jobs you'll never get to do it full time or 'what do you do during the day?' and all those sorts of comments to people who are maybe young in Oberon and other rural towns who have those dreams can be harmful."

Mr Cousens said it was important for them to know that not even the most well known actor or singer in the world ever does this job full time.

"It just doesn't work that way," he said.

Mr Cousens didn't want to scare rural or regional people away from joining the arts though.

"I think there's a lot of it that's a lot of fun. In many ways, it's the best of both worlds because if you can sort of have a community theatre world or community musical world, and be part of it while also being a teacher, doctor or plumber then that's still amazing," he said.

"I think there's a lot of rural centres in Australia who have really fine conservatories and young kids and older people doing great music, but they're all getting on with sustaining their lives, and also sustaining their love of whether it's performing or music or whatever it is.

"It's a much better option, I think, than following a professional expression of that need to sing or to dance or to act or to paint or to perform to be honest."

Mr Cousens said that when someone says that to young people you expect those who are really driven to say 'I don't give a shit what you say, this is what I want to do'.

"But other kids may read that and think 'you know what? I am happy to keep this as a side love but I really want to be an electrician or a doctor or something and I love my piano, but I'm just going to keep it in the background'," he said.

"I think you get a much more balanced life doing this, because you've got to have a really good perspective on actually what you're capable of."

When asked if that was what he did when he was younger, he only had one response.

"No, I did the other way. I went against my own advice. I've only come to that conclusion really as an adult and working with young people as I do," he laughed.