Innovating Through Artistry

Am I insane?

In The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble on February 20, 2008 at 11:30 am

The last few weeks I have been working very hard on really pulling together the core members of The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble. The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble is a performance oriented entrepreneurial incubator, the first of its kind, in Chicago. I will be helping each member in it, over the next four to six weeks, develop a business plan that will in a key way be reflected in the context of their performance with The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble.

The results of these performances will lead to test marketing each artists services through a variety of for profit mediums through Entrepreneur The Arts. My goal is to build a not for profit organization that leads to a for profit business for artists.

We are looking at theater space now for fundraisers at the end of May early June and performance starting across Chicago-land every other week after that.

Needless to say, there have been a lot of in depth conversations being had with all these various individuals. Many exciting conversations, and yet as I begin to get into the lives of some of the artists I have selected, I realize I have bit off a lot to chew.

Everyone I am working with is in their 30’s and 40’s. All of them have never planned their future on paper, feel they know very little about money management, and have not as many ideas as they would like about how best to market their skills. And yet all of these artists, unlike so many who have given up and taken day jobs, have found ways of at least surviving in the arts for a living.

Am I insane to try and help simultaneously ten or more individuals like this? What am I thinking?

I come at this with both the enthusiasm of a child -because this truly is my life’s work to help artists- and the fear of an adult. Will each one of them really let me help them? Will each one be willing to invest enough time and energy into developing their own marketing plan with me? No matter how many times we need to adjust their marketing plan, based on feedback and test marketing, will they all hang in their and keep the faith? Will we get enough of an audience at all our performances and enough interest in each artists services to really test how well each artist’s services can sell?

While I have worked with many many artists in this way over twenty years, I have never tried to do this with my direct involvement in a common project. The hardest thing about entrepreneurship in the arts is allowing room for mistakes, trial and error and correction. To most artists this is a foreign concept and hard to do because we are all so use to being told we have to get it right the first time. But for those of you who have been reading the evolution of my concept of The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, it should be clear to you what I am talking about- because I have gone through lots of shifts and changes with where it is headed only to arrive at this point right now.

I am beginning to feel the chaos of trying to get this all pulled together not to mention the work that still needs to be done to secure the theater spaces and fundraise.

I am a sucker for a big challenge. But when it comes to helping the arts I feel like an addict: I am desperate to find something concrete, that I can produce using my entrepreneurial and artistic skills, to effectuate real substantive changes in the arts, or at least starting with the little sliver of it I see. I have spent my entire life looking for a real way to create safety, an appropriate pay scale, health insurance and a retirement account for those who are creatively our most talented. I built a business for twenty years trying to help artists to flourish and I simply cannot stop trying now.

Yet I know I cannot do this alone- which makes me worry about how I will find more helping hands. Hands to spread the word about my work. Hands to encourage me to keep going when I am overwhelmed. Hands to clap at our performances. Hands to write checks to donate funds and hire artists and hands to cheer me on.

This ensemble, and all of you reading this blog- your interest in improving the state of the arts must continue to grow. I simply am not able to do it all even if I have a heart of desire that wants me to believe I could. Nor am I able to alone convince anyone and everyone that the arts need all of our hands of help to change its future into something far brighter.

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