Raha Javanfar - Artist
Where were you at in your music career when you had your first child? Was there much discussion about how that life choice would affect your career within the music/entertainment industry?
It was the end of the pandemic so it was really hard to know what was coming or how things were going to change moving forward. My daughter was born right at the end of August 2021 which was actually right when the first wave of re-openings was taking place. I remember feeling like I was being thrust back into isolation (after almost two years of it) with a new baby, while my friends and colleagues were returning to work. I remember feeling confused, envious, and pretty disoriented by it all.
As a working parent in the music industry, what are some of the biggest challenges you are facing?
Child care child care child care child care. Oh, and money....for child care. I work in the theatre industry as well, both as a designer and a performer, and I'm finding that more and more theatre companies are offering child care stipends, while the music industry is still quite behind on this. It's obviously particularly hard considering the late night hours of some gigs and the fact that daycare (if you're lucky enough to enrol your child in an available/affordable one) doesn't cover care for the hours when you need it most. The child care situation in our city (province? country?) is despicable for everyone, but especially depressing for anyone who doesn't conform to conventional work hours and lifestyles.
What is one small change within the industry that could make a positive impact for working parents?
It's honestly hard to think of anything small. The changes that need to take place are big ones, they're long overdue, and needed badly. Musician fees need to go up, but the culture around hiring needs to change as well. New parents, especially mothers, shouldn't feel like they're being pushed out of the industry, or like someone is doing them a favour by hiring them. They need to be treated as equals with their peers, and accessibility measures (like covering child care, providing safe and comfortable space on site for breastfeeding or pumping, or just basic compassion and understanding) need to be implemented.
How do you find support and community with other working parents in or out of the music industry?
Thankfully, a lot of my musician friends all had babies at the same time! Some of us do child care swaps, which is a great way to support one another. Since having a kid, I've formed several small 'mom groups' with friends in different circles, and these have been a lifeline for me as I navigate the challenging world of a working parent.
What’s one specific example of an organization/venue/company doing something great to help support working parents?
Balancing Act by Theatre Direct has been an amazing initiative, specific to the theatre industry, but has extended to musicians working in theatre as well. Their aim has been to create increased equality, accessibility, and inclusion for parents and caregivers working in the performing arts industry. I've had the privilege of benefiting from their amazing program on several projects that I've worked on, receiving child care stipends, as well as small gestures that have made me feel supported as a parent.
What could a music event (festival, conference, etc.), do or provide to make it easier for you to participate?
Ask the question: What do you need and how can we support you? Sometimes the answer to that question will be far less daunting than some organizers might fear. Yes, money is always a factor, but sometimes it's as simple as allowing another pass for a caregiver to come along with the baby, or a designated space for privacy, etc. But organizers won't know what should offer or how they should improve unless they ask those who they're trying to support.
Can you shout out another music mama doing great things?
Jenie Thai! Queen.
Find more about Raha HERE