This topic has 9 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 5 months ago by Former Member Content Archive.

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  • #14859

    This is a question for any one who is a professional scenic artist who is middle age or older (ie. 50+):

    Have you ever been turned down for a job or have even suspected that you’ve been turned down because of your age? I know that employers (these days) are not allowed to ask how old you are but we all know that there’s little “cheats” to get around that. I’d like to hear your thoughts or experiences.

    #15621
     Anonymous

    Hi there, I have a fine arts background and worked as a scenic artist in my mid 20’s. I left film to raise my three children and eventually returned when I was about 50. Since returning to work I have never experienced what I would call ageism. Perhaps it has been because of the high demand for competent Scenics here, but I think too that it’s because there are many senior members in our industry and so consequently a respect for our experience.

    #15622
     Tina Yager
    Admin
    • Experience: 15-20 years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

    TuxedoJunction wrote:

    This is a question for any one who is a professional scenic artist who is middle age or older (ie. 50+):

    Have you ever been turned down for a job or have even suspected that you’ve been turned down because of your age? I know that employers (these days) are not allowed to ask how old you are but we all know that there’s little “cheats” to get around that. I’d like to hear your thoughts or experiences.

    I am under 50 but I’ve had quite a few awkward and illegal questions asked of me during an interview.

    Specifically, I had someone ask my age during a formal interview when I was in my late 20’s. The interviewer said that the timeline of my resume didn’t match my physical appearance and asked if my experience at a major regional theater occurred before I was 18. It didn’t, I was over 21 when I worked there. It should have been a sign that it was a bad working environment. That individual referred to me as “kiddo” the entire four years I worked there, despite my repeated request that he stop.

    This same workplace said they screened out older candidates by asking about their comfort level with ladders.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    #15623
     Ellen Jones
    • Experience: 20+ years
    • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

    • Member
      Member Member

    In my experience the higher quality the company, the more they value experience over youthful appearance. Part of that may be that the hiring people are also more likely to be experienced professionals and view the work as your job, not the creative outlet that gives your life meaning.

    Any company that pays by the hour and plans to make a profit, in my opinion, is more likely to think in terms of what is possible with the financial and human capital available or hire enough labor to avoid weeks of overtime. Those who don’t consider whether or not the responsibilities are reasonable, tend to value youth because they think it provides greater stamina and that the fewer jobs someone has had, the less likely they are to make waves because they want the credits and the experience. Just my two cents worth, aimed at no company or institution in particular…

    eej

    #15624

    Semi-unrelated, but I, a soon-to-be-24-year-old scenic artist, am endlessly grateful for the tremendous wealth of wisdom, experience, and technique that my newly 60 year old scenic charge boss has shared with me. I feel like so many of the secrets of this job come with experimentation and experience, and I feel like a lot of that comes with years and years of practice. I don’t think I would be half the artist I am today without his instruction and I feel fortunate to have worked and learned with him.

    #15625
     EvanWRapp
    • Experience: 5-10 years
    • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

    Obravenewworld wrote:


    Semi-unrelated, but I, a soon-to-be-24-year-old scenic artist, am endlessly grateful for the tremendous wealth of wisdom, experience, and technique that my newly 60 year old scenic charge boss has shared with me. I feel like so many of the secrets of this job come with experimentation and experience, and I feel like a lot of that comes with years and years of practice. I don’t think I would be half the artist I am today without his instruction and I feel fortunate to have worked and learned with him.

    I agree with this entirely. The tips and tricks I’ve learned from seasoned scenics has been invaluable.

    #15626

    I am also under 50, and have also been on hiring committees where applicants haven’t made it past the first round of cuts due to their age. It’s really sad. And there are a million ways it can be justified, like you said. I’m sorry that happened to you, and your instincts are probably spot-on. And while I am normally suspicious of a correlation between that kind of garbage and the quality of the company or program, I do believe this is a problem across the board and not limited to our field.

    #15627

    Idelavan – I have a question about your reply. When you were on the hiring committee who by-passed older candidate(s), what do you think the reasoning was behind that? Was/ were the older candidate(s) perceived (due to not being seen or interviewed) to be sickly or physically not up to the job? Or perhaps the younger staff people felt that their jobs / authority / seniority were threatened by someone who had more experience? Or perhaps a combination of things? I’d like to hear your insight. Thanks!

    #15628

    It never seemed to be related to concerns about someone’s ability to physically do the job, which feels a little surprising as I type that. It was assumed that one applicant was hoping to get an offer that they could use to get a counter offer from their current employer. In another case, there were several applicants that didn’t move forward because “well, why would they be applying for this job for which they are overqualified?” I think the common thread is that, at least in academia at large institutions, there are many people who have slowly grown out of touch. They don’t realize how appealing certain positions are to people who have continued to freelance beyond just their 20s or 30s and would like paid sick leave, vacation, and excellent insurance. And, honestly, their egos have grown fragile. They don’t want a peer, they want someone they can boss. They want someone who can be considered “junior staff.” It’s maybe a little more nuanced than that, but those are my initial thoughts 🙂

    #15629

    Idelavan, Thank you for your insight. You mentioned several good points that I hadn’t thought of, especially the “why would they apply for a job that they are over qualified for?”. I guess that they didn’t consider that fact that people’s priorities, goals and personal situations change over time.

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