Why Artists Are Leaving Los Angeles
“I didn’t move to the city to count all my pennies,
and worship the Hollywood sign.”
-Rich Love, by One Republic
It’s no surprise artists and creatives are moving, but the real question is why artists are leaving L.A. Every week someone else in our community decides to leave. It can often be overheard, “Are you leaving L.A.?” or maybe, “Are you headed to Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, Florida?” Just last week we went to a screening for a film being released next year, and as we talked to the casting director next to us, we realized, she too had already left California. She flew in for a few days to do business and flies back to out. There are websites and Facebook groups to help you plan your transition to life in another state, and to find connections in media, film, and other art forms. People often joke, “If you’re the last one to leave, turn the lights off.”
How the Pandemic Changed the Industry
The truth is, the industry has changed quite a bit during the pandemic. People who were required to be in-person for their work were now required to work from home. This included TV show editors, special FX teams, video game developers, writer’s groups, and the list goes on. As a result, emerging from the pandemic, people realized how much production, editing, and negotiating for contracts can be done without stepping foot in L.A.
How the Culture Changed
The second transformation was the degree to which L.A. has become more inhospitable to families due to the homelessness, crime and degrading quality of life. It’s one thing to step over homeless people passed out from doing drugs, while you are taking a walk by In-n-Out- walking with a few other single men and women. It’s entirely different when you are taking a walk with your kids. People of all kinds of different political and religious beliefs start to question whether this is going to get better and whether it is where you want to raise a family.
How the Content has Changed
The third transformation is the slowest transformation. It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen over the pandemic. It happened over decades. Content that used to be mildly offensive has become more overt. Content that made slight fun of Christians in the past, has been followed up by shows that demonize religion and Christians. From Disney adding same-sex kisses into the content for kids (Lightyear), to HBO’s Handmaid’s Tale, the attack on religion and family are at an all-time high.
If you try to portray a Christian family honestly, you’ll be told you can’t pray in the name of Jesus (Duck Dynasty), and you can’t have political views other than the approved views of your left-leaning producers and network executives. They may proclaim diversity, but there is no diversity allowed when it comes to religion, belief in God, or their elevation of sexual identity above all other identities.
Even if you were to agree with some of their views, the intolerance for any other view is dangerously totalitarian when it comes to content. Hollywood is not tolerant. It wouldn’t be so offensive if they said, “Sure, we think Christians should be able to create shows without us forcing our agenda and politics into it.” But this is what they simply can’t do. Over and over, they take content written by Christians and add some perversion near the end of the movie or the end of the television series.
Reasons to Leave
There has always been a myriad of reasons to leave L.A. (or New York for that matter). So many people who move here with a dream of working in the entertainment industry, the media complex, or in the art world, end up quitting and moving home within 18 months. The cost of living is high, and the competition in the market is tough. These two challenges have been true for a century.
If you don’t come here with solid talent and tremendous tenacity and patience, you simply won’t last. What is new, is the third challenge – producing content that glorifies God. This challenge has been getting harder and harder to overcome over the last couple decades. Add on top of this the rising cost of living and the current inflation (which has no sign of stopping soon), and pressures to leave can be overwhelming.
What if You Thought You Were Called to L.A.?
If you were called to L.A., can you leave? This is hard for people who had a real strong sense of God calling them to L.A. But God is free to call us into one place for a season, and then call us to another place for a new season. If you’ve taken my calling course, you know that your calling can change over time. Different seasons call for a different focus in your life, and the multiple callings God has given you must be weighed and balanced in each season. If this sounds foreign to you, check out our Online Artists’ Calling Course. It will bring a lot of clarity to your spiritual and vocational life in this challenging season.
Consider the life of the Apostle Paul. God called him to many cities, and eventually to submit to being arrested and taken to Rome. All of this was God’s plan. We need to be careful about restricting God’s plan and vision for our life. Just because He called you one place years ago, doesn’t mean He won’t call you somewhere else later on in your life.
Reasons to Stay
Well, as you may expect, I get the same question from family and friends, “Are you staying or leaving?” As my wife and I reflect on those questions, a few key things come into focus. I am reminded that we didn’t come to L.A. to make it rich, to find a better life or to raise our kids in an idyllic, serene community. We counted the cost, and knew it would be tough raising kids in L.A. with no relatives who even live in the same state.
My wife and I came to L.A. because we felt God had called us to disciple creatives who were working on the front lines of the culture. We saw the need to challenge church leaders to support and embrace artists and creatives and we saw the deep need for artists to have someone to mentor and disciple them who ‘gets them’. As artists ourselves, my wife and I have been able to fill that vacuum for over 20 years here in L.A., and many more years before that in New York, and other cities. We have created numerous online resources and classes, and continue to meet artists and creative professionals hungry to learn how to honor God while making a living in the art world or entertainment industry.
We never want to leave simply because life is challenging. Sometimes God calls us to challenging circumstances in order to draw us closer to Him, and to work through us in those unique circumstances. Just because a storm is coming, doesn’t meant God isn’t with you (in the storm). We cannot judge only by external factors. We must seek obedience over comfort or conveniences.
Questions to Consider:
If you are thinking of leaving, why?
What key factors played a role in your decision?
If you are staying, why?
And what role has prayer played in making these decisions?
I would love to hear your thoughts in response to this article. Each person and family are unique, and your circumstances are unique…what has been helpful for you in this process?
Copyright © 2022 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.