“I do feel resentful,” she admits. “I don’t have as much time to think or to read as I’d like. I don’t dislike my job and the people I work with are really nice but, in and of itself, there’s a limit to how excited I can get about selling TV programmes such as Farmer Wants a Wife to Slovenia, although,” she adds, drily, “it was a ratings hit.”
“I’ve seen Arts Council grants and subsidies as being there for people who really require them: if you’ve been a writer for 10 years and there’s nothing else you can do and you can’t get another job, for instance. For me, it’s similar to unemployment benefit really.”
I’m not prepared to live in a bedsit and work in a freezing cold studio. Most of my artist friends have a “bread-and-butter” job. I’m quite lucky to have a good job that I am proud of and which I find stimulating. I don’t have to work too many days – other artists have to spend a lot of time working in bars, waitressing or teaching. My part-time job doesn’t get in the way and is in fact quite good for grounding me. I can spend a lot of time in the studio flailing around and thinking and not doing a lot. If you have less time, you tend to use it more constructively.
The only recent cloud over the scene has been gentrification, which began under Mayor Rudy Giuliani and went into hyperdrive under Michael Bloomberg, forcing up rents beyond the grasp of most artists. “The real-estate bubble was like cancer,” complains [William] Basinski, who was priced out of Arcadia four years ago by the hipster colonisation of Williamsburg. During the same period the city slashed arts funding. “You used to have ambitious ideas,” says Atlas, “but when funding was cut it had a big impact on what people felt they could think of doing.”