…quoting Adam Thurman. Here’s some now, in what seems to me to be a direct address to my train of thought lately.
Let’s say that you decide right now that you want to make a living wage for your art.
Please understand that when you make that decision you have crossed a line . . . you are no longer just an artist.
You’re a marketer.
You’re a fundraiser
You may be a leader of emerging arts organization.
But that “just an artist” thing is gone. Forever.
If you really think you are going to be able to work the giant wheel of commerce in such a way that you will be able to make a full time (or even a decent part time) living without getting your hands real dirty in the muck of marketing, networking, etc. then you are just fooling yourself.
But here’s a secret I’ll share . . .
Aw shucks. :)
Yep, yep and yep. It makes me sad when the artists, writers and actors I know won’t ‘get in the muck’ and then wonder why things are going as well as they want.
Getting ‘in the muck’ of course is necessary to make your art your business. I say ‘of course’ because I recognized this, and am surrounded by a select few others who also recognize this, but am never surprised to meet another artist who has no idea what ‘the muck’ is nor how to get into it. Enter someone who can put on a seminar for artists on this topic…(hint hint…)
What about the next step. What I find challenging, now that I’m in the muck, is that I’m no longer creating art for me ~ I’m creating art that my clients want to see, art that fits their needs and their tastes no matter if I think it’s good, or relevant, or creative. This is biggest challenge at the moment.
I agree with Adam that indeed, there are great people out there and I have had a chance to meet some of them and they make being a working artist great. And even better is when these people and I see eye-to-eye on what looks good and what suits their needs. However this isn’t always the case and thus my current challenge…and possibly the challenge of other artists out there???
For me the “muck” is the struggle to articulate and make clear what we do and why we do it – how to connect that with all the publics that it might connect with.
It’s not about making/showing work you don’t like (since then you are lying when you say “come see the show, it’s great” and nobody likes a liar.)
but about working hard on finding ways to share why you like the work and therefore what other people might like about it.
If I want people to understand why the art is important, Step One will always be: make sure the art is important.
Step Two and forward is the other muck (there is also muck in making important work) – trying to let people know about it. Trying to excite people to come despite all the other things to do, despite all the bad and unimportant art they’ve seen, despite the cost of ticket, despite all the difficulty and disappointment is hard. It’s impossible if I don’t believe what I’m saying.
We are not that special or select, what excites us, will excite others.
And maybe not the same others that have bought season tickets at the road house regional for the past 50 years.
So that is the work behind the rhetoric of new audiences.
The work behind being passionate about why something matters (always making sure it does matter.)
And yes, there is something off with the balance when we work very hard to make something that matters and don’t have the time / energy / tactics to articulate what matters about it.
Just as there is something deeply out of balance when there is much work and much money put into to convincing people that something matters, when, actually, it doesn’t. This is too common, and makes it harder to do the first thing, since all the language has been co-opted.
So yes, how do we find the language for the audiences for our work? I’ve been trying to start with talking about what is exciting to me, since excitement is contagious.
This end of day ramble is cross posted at the Dancemakers blog… dancemakers.blogspot.com