Blog

Why trees? Part 1

The project I’m developing now is called The Arbor Fellowship. There are a few reasons for that name, which I’ll get to in Part 2. 

First: What it will do. 

I’ll be working with fine and performing arts students at colleges and universities, to help give them the business and life tools they need to have sustainable, thriving careers in the arts. 

Why is that important? Artists make culture, culture shapes people, and people create the future. I care about the future.

From my own 30+ years (post-education) in the arts, there are a few things I strongly believe:

  • Artists need time to grow into creative maturity and cultural influence. 
  • Artists won’t get that time if they are having to work for free*, squeeze their creative work around demanding full-time day jobs, redirect their work entirely toward commercial uses, etc., over long periods of time in order to pay their bills.
  • To create the “margin” needed to make enough work to grow in maturity and influence, they have to get paid. 
  • To get paid, artists need to think of themselves as, and work like, business owners and entrepreneurs.
  • We didn’t learn how to do that in our art/music/drama/film/dance schools (with a few new and notable exceptions, as these realizations are slowly starting to spread through academia). 

Why do I believe this? It’s the last 30 years of my life. And of hundreds of artists’ lives I’ve observed during those years. 

Continue reading “Why trees? Part 1”

The Year of Kudzu

Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a blog. 

A lot’s happened since February 2017. Can I get an amen? That seems like such a long, innocent time ago. I just reread that post and I’m amazed at how much has changed in my external circumstances, but not in what I’m thinking about. 

The primary idea in that post was that artists serve the community in ways that are unique to being artists, in addition to producing and presenting their creative work. In a 15-month period in which more than 60% of full-time artists (in any discipline) were fully unemployed, a whole lot of people didn’t have any choice in how/whether they served. I imagine for most of them, serving took a back seat to surviving. I pray that they were served by someone.  

My musician husband, Chuck, lost all of his gigs and about half of his teaching from the move to Zoom. I was fortunate that my job with Creative Waco continued on Zoom with few other changes, and I actually picked up a semester of teaching at Baylor that I wouldn’t have been offered in healthier times. And, without a pandemic and the accompanying loss of income in our home, I probably wouldn’t have taken a gig teaching a theatre class at a local Catholic high school, which turned out to be surprisingly rewarding.

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was that my work with Creative Waco, doing professional development training for artists, received a two-year grant and I was able to expand what I was doing. So plans to write and speak at colleges got put on hold.

That grant is coming to an end, and we’re not trying to renew it with a role for me because…wait for it…

Chuck and I are planning to move back east within the next year.

Continue reading “The Year of Kudzu”

Gardening day

Yesterday I got to do some things related to gardening, so it’s a good time to introduce that topic.

One of the theories I’m thinking through in my life and work here is that artists serve the community in ways that are unique to being artists, in addition to producing and presenting their creative work. So one of my goals when I got here was to get involved in as many different community groups as I could. Of course it would need to be something I was passionate about, because to really invest deeply I’d need to want to be there.

I decided to take “grassroots” very literally.

Continue reading “Gardening day”

11 years ago today…

wedding_street…I put on this dress and married the guitar player I stayed in New York for.

I’d moved here two years earlier to spend eight months studying the Meisner Technique, a method of actor training that I planned to take back to Atlanta and teach. But I fell in love at first sight with my boss’ brother and, well, so much for that plan.

We got married in an Italian restaurant in Times Square on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by old friends, new friends, and family members.

Some years passed. I worked a few different jobs; Chuck played gigs and taught lessons.

Then the day came that I asked him to leave New York for me. Continue reading “11 years ago today…”

“The Art School of the Future”

Ruby Lerner, founder of the arts funding organization Creative Capital, has written a terrific post called “The Art School of the Future” on Creativz, my new favorite arts blog. I encourage you to read the whole post, but here’s a highlight:

“If I were designing The Art School of the Future, I would integrate art theory, practice and technical training with a professional development curriculum. This would start with strategic planning, goal setting, work/life balance, and time management. The Art School of the Future would also teach financial literacy, encouraging young artists to build good financial habits early in their lives and careers. And we would spend a LOT of time on communications — verbal communications, presentation skills, negotiating, marketing, outreach and PR. We would teach artists community engagement skills — how to reach the audiences they most want to reach, and who to partner with to make that happen. We would teach strategies for working collaboratively with other artists. Continue reading ““The Art School of the Future””