Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

New Season for No-Mind

In Author: Adam Shames, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, Health & Wellness on September 29, 2010 at 12:10 am

Fall is indeed here, and I am returning from my blog-break to once again rabble-rouse for innovation to reign and your creativity to blossom throughout this new season and beyond.

I’ll remember this summer as one where I worked less on business but more on my mind — specifically, on trying to detach from the addictions of mind. Creativity is the nimble dance between mind and heart, but so many of us get caught in a stranglehold of mind so that we are blocked from expressing ourselves, taking risks, seeing differently and feeling free to create (not to mention just feeling good). The mind is a powerful instrument, but, as Eckhart Tolle in his classic The Power of Now explains, “about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is harmful.” Too much of our thinking — especially in this Information Overload-Great Recession-Multi-Tasking world of ours — is spent stuck on shoulds, fears, anxiety about the future and replays of the past.

I know mine was. So I consciously broke from my normal routine, both physically and mentally, and shifted my mindset. I was lucky to spend more time than I ever have on Lake Michigan, thanks to my friend Joe and his sailboat (above). I truly was able to incubate — a key part of the creative process — in water and for more prolonged periods than I have before. I was able to leave my scolding mind with the buildings of the city and embrace the great creative principle of “Not Knowing” — seeing with fresh eyes, giving up being right and smart and an expert. My mind stopped being king, and frankly I feel much better and more ready to imagine and create a future that works for me.

In an enlightened state, according to Tolle, you still use your thinking mind when needed but otherwise there is an inner stillness. To come up with creative solutions, he explains, “you oscillate every few minutes or so between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind…only in that way is it possible to think creatively.” You need “no-mind” — consciousness without thought — to tap into your real power. Here’s more:

The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing, and analyzing information–that is what it is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight. Even the great scientists have reported that their creative breakthroughs came at a time of mental quietude.

~from The Power of Now, p. 19-20

I know I was extremely lucky to be able to take a partial break this summer, and that it’s hard to find the time for “mental quietude.” But you can find a way to reduce your “predominance of mind,” as Tolle would call it, both for your own sanity and to be more creative. Read The Power of Now. Learn to Meditate. Swim, run, practice Tai Chi, paint or lose yourself in a creative pursuit that gets you out of your thoughts. The key is to be aware of — and to be less enslaved by — your involuntary internal dialogue, especially the nasty, needless thoughts that create stress but little else of value.

Want more from Adam? Check out his Innovation on my Mind blog.

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Flip the Switch

In Author: Whitney Ferre on December 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm

3 Things I want to share with you today…

1st…If you want something NEW to happen in your life, your business, or anywhere, you have to do something DIFFERENT.

2nd…When you do something DIFFERENT you change the way you are thinking, making the shift from left-brain routine to right brain innovation.  This is being supported by both brain scientists and spiritual leaders.

3rd…My mission to illuminate for you the ability you possess to “flip the switch” from left to right brain thinking using Creativity Workouts and the Arts is going to provide you with what you need to create the change you desire in your world, to evolve your thinking in this rapidly evolving world, & to lead a blanced and fulfilled life.

First, let me take you on a little tour to illustrate a Creativity Workout.  Follow along with the intent of getting into your right brain (if you are sitting at your computer right now, obviously, you are engaged in the heavily left-brain dominated world and a little right brain exercise is always good.

I recently visited UMMA.  The Univ. of Michigan Museum of Art.  I hope this motivates you all to go to an art museum as soon as possible.  It is a FABULOUS right brain workout.  Take your business team.  Take your children.  Go alone.  You will leave with new ideas, more energy, and a sense that you too can create something new.

Imagine that you are walking into this room at UMMA.  It is an art installation by Heather Rowe. http://www.umma.umich.edu/view/ (I don’t know why the pics on the UMMA site are of a different install, but enjoy that one too.)  It is a totally separate room.  I had it all to myself.  It is a series of platforms or open boxes perched upon different lengths of metal and glass supports.  Notice the glass cubes at the foot of some of the supports.  (I really liked those….).  The goal of the installation is to engage you in an altered perspective.  The key is to slow down, look around and take it in.  Throughout my tour here today, look for the reflection of the orange, metal sculpture outside the museum.

So, these mirrors were placed as close to the universal eye-level height and each open “box” had these mirrors and other “random” objects arranged differently to catch the reflections.  See the orange sculpture?  Try to really space out on these images.  Just give yourself a little mental vacation from the to-do list scrolling through  your mind.  You can’t innovate if your mind is busy processing lists.  Now, let’s move to a different part of the room.

Hi!  Here I am with my trusty iPhone (LOVE it!).  Now, see the orange?  How many times do you see my face? Look in each piece of mirror.  Or almost all of them.  Can you tell which sections are mirror and which are real?  Look again….

Now, here is the last part of the tour.

Now, even I still can’t figure this out.  See my face taking the picture?  See the orange sculpture?  I promise, that orange sculpture was BEHIND me.  It looks like you are looking through the art install to the outside and there is the sculpture.  No.  That is a reflection of the sculpture.  I promise.  Even when I was there I had to turn around and look behind me there it was.  Then I looked in front of me and there it was too.  OK.  At this point, I admit, I started fantasizing about me alone in that room for hours with a bottle of wine and nothing else.  Except that I would surely need a pad of paper because of all the new insight and ideas that would come flooding into my consciousness as I opened up more and more in my mind–right hemisphere, remember.

OK.  So I could go on and on.  I will just say that just yesterday I bought two books.  Joe Dispenza’s Evolve Your Brain (this author was featured in the movie What the Bleep!?!?–rent that if you have not already) and OSHO’s Everyday OSHO.  Within 24 hours, after only reading a total of 15 pages between the two books, I read BOTH of them say that the key to ANY kind of innovation is dependent on your creativity, which is a task of the right brain, and that your left brain is responsible for information or skills that are routine or already processed by your mind. 

Dan Pink reveals this fact as well in his new book DRIVE.  If you want NEW innovation in your organization, it is dependent on right hemisphere thinking. You can learn to FLIP THE SWITCH in your own mind.  We all live in a left-brain dominated world, so if you think, “Hey, I want to new solution to this problem.” That should trigger the thought, “I better get in my right brain.”  In which case you give your right brain something to do (go to the Creativity Workout section of this blog for ideas OR buy my book The Artist Within, A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit, that is chock full of right brain exercises), thereby shifting the energy in your mind (What the Bleep?!?!) to the side responsible for the creativity, focus, and openness required for innovation.  I will be back with more from UMMA.  I have to dole it out because otherwise this would be a 20 foot long blog entry.

Come back soon…subscribe to this blog–look under my pic–…learn more about Creatively Fit.  We will be launching the Creatively Fit Program in March 2010.  It will be ther “Jenny Craig” for the Right Brain.  It is going to be fun….

Creative wishes this holiday season, Whitney

Mr. Fox Right Brain Movie Review

In Author: Whitney Ferre on December 1, 2009 at 8:38 pm

I saw this movie this past weekend with my kids. 

Some things struck me about the Fantastic Mr. Fox that I thought were worth emphasizing.

Although, I would side with Mrs. Fox as to the carelessness and recklessness of Mr. Fox’s actions, one can’t deny the creative problem solving nature of his actions once the proverbial @#$@# had hit the fan.

So, when Mr. Fox had to motivate his “team” in the face of dire circumstances and insurmountable odds, he chose the right brain/creative path of painting a picture of what that team meant to him and what they could accomplish if they worked together.  By reclaiming their own “story”–a Dan Pink emphasis for the new economy www.danpink.com— (their inherent traits and talents), the animals were able to band together to accomplish their goals.  Mr. Fox’s leadership skills are very 21st Century.

The other element of this story that struck me is how it mirrors our current situation.  Fox progresses from the pursuit of comfort and status to being grateful for diminishing resources and shelter.  At each point that his situation worsens, he finds the silver lining and emphasizes THAT to his community.  In the end, they are still have to scrap and scrape and are living in the sewer, but they are happy because of their positive perspective.

In your left brain you are all about YOU. In your RIGHT you are tapped into the global mind, the “one big happy family” and everything is working out perfectly.

Fox’s path may hold a key to our own survival in 2010 and beyond.  Might some of us have to learn how to thrive and live fulfilled lives with less?  Getting to know your right brain voice, or Artist Within, gives you so much more opportunity to maximize the potential of your mind and synergize both the left and right hemispheres.  Feeling overwhelmed or do you want to just give up?  You are surely in left brain mode.  Click on the Creativity Workouts category in this blog to learn how you can make the shift from left to right brain thinking.  Turn feelings of hopelessness into HOPE!

Check out Tina Seelig’s blog, Creativity Rulz, on the Psychology Today wewbsite: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativityrulz/200911/its-all-in-your-head

She writes about the power we have to interpret the same situation so many different ways, just by how we choose to look at it.  “It’s All in Your Head” is the title of the blog entry.  Mr. Fox “got it”.  Cheers to a Happy New Year–one filled with exciting opportunities, change and new beginnings!

My Asian Vision Quest

In Author: Jim Hart on November 18, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Mythic Balinese Barong Dragon

Following graduation from Yale School of Drama, I received a grant to study ritualistic mask dancing with village master teachers in Bali and India, via a Fox Foundation Fellowship. That was a journey that absolutely changed my life. Prior to going on this trip, I worried, having just graduated from Yale and having entered the market, if it was the wisest thing for me to go on an overseas travel, to leave the city and go frolicking in Asia. What auditions or opportunities might I miss? I felt tremendous pressure—most of which was imagined—about what my classmates and faculty expected from me. It took me a good amount of time to get over that nonsense.   Read the rest of this entry »

Smiling as Loudly as We Can

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on November 14, 2009 at 2:50 am

“Don’t worry if you don’t hear the audience laughing during dress rehearsal. They’re old. They’re smiling as loudly as they can.”

-Tim Frawley,Theatre Director, Libertyville High School

The high school I attended had an ongoing tradition of inviting elderly citizens from the community to come see dress rehearsals so that they didn’t have to pay full price for tickets on performance nights. The laughter and applause of an elderly audience was never as loud or as enthusiastic as an audience full of our families and peers, but at least the house was full. As students and as artists, it was very easy to feel doubtful. Here we were in dress rehearsal on the verge of a production that we’d worked very hard on in front of an audience and the first time. We were projecting ourselves out into a darkened auditorium and hoping for some kind of response. We had no way of knowing whether all our hard work resulted in something we could be proud of unless we could hear the audience laugh at the jokes. And sometimes we didn’t even get that satisfaction.

In such unforgiving economic times it is easy to feel that dress-rehearsal doubt. We cross our fingers and tell ourselves to “break a leg” because we don’t even want to risk frightening away good luck. When we take risks, whether as an artist or as an entrepreneur, we put ourselves out on stage under bright lights staring out into a vast darkened empty space with no way of knowing whether anyone is watching. We have no way of knowing whether we are succeeding or failing except by the responses that we get from other people. And like in theatre, sometimes that response never comes.

If we’re wise, we carry on even in the face of apparent apathy. At times like this, when the auditorium in which we perform seems to be dark and empty and vast we may not be able to see our audience but we need to remember they are there. The audience is seeing us because we are there to be seen. And they are smiling as loudly as they can.

Seed Grants to Student Arts Entrepreneurs

In Art, Author: Linda Essig, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Music, Networking, The Idea, Theater/Film on November 13, 2009 at 1:40 am

Last week, I got to do the thing that I enjoy most in my job (I also got to do some things I enjoy least, but discussing those would be digressive). My colleagues and I made six seed grants to student arts entrepreneurs. If I ever feel down and out about the future, I can go back and read the 24 letters of intent and 8 full submissions to our p.a.v.e. program in arts entrepreneurship we received this October. Reading through these proposals makes me feel that the arts are relevant, vibrant, vital, and sustainable.

Students have some of the coolest ideas. With their permission, I’m sharing some information about the six awardees with you all. Yes, it’s a little bit of bragging, but it’s also sharing some of the interesting ideas that we’ll be mentoring and supporting in the months to come. (And, yes, there were a few proposals that just made you roll your eyes, but those were very few.) A lot of proposals were for projects that could be termed “social entrepreneurship” as much as “arts entrepreneurship,” a combination I find both interesting and hopeful.
With that, I bring you the Fall 2009 p.a.v.e. awardees:
join cast clipartJoin and Cast Ventures: Two Art (Intermedia) students, Jennifer C. and Catherine A., are producing a field guide to the downtown Phoenix arts scene that is itself a work of art.
radio healer clipart copyRadio Healer: Led by Arts, Media Engineering (AME) graduate student Christopher M., Radio Healer presents mediated performances that foster intercultural dialogue in Native communities.
daht clipartDance and Health Together Awards: Led by undergraduate Dance major Mary P., the DaHT Awards is a combination of dance recognition award and fundraising enterprise benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

coop films clipartCo-op Film Productions – Film and Media Production/Marketing student Chelsea R. and her team are creating a support infrastructure for student collaboration across arts and design disciplines.
different from what clip artDifferent from What? Film Festival – AME graduate student Lisa T. in collaboration with Education student Federico W. is producing a film festival focused on films by, for, and about adults with disabilities.

scrath theory clipartScratch Theory – Filmmaking Practices major Chris G. and his collaborators are developing a software/hardware interface that will first notate and then play back via synthesizer DJ scratching.

Money. Symbol of Energy.

In Author: Jim Hart on November 12, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Jim Hart. www.harttechnique.com

In our present day economy, our US greenbacks are no longer based in precious metal. Rather, they are based in what we say they are. Such is the advantage of being a super power. Though…that is likely to change with time…

Money as Energy

Money is a Symbol of Energy.

Money is a Symbol of Energy.

Paper money. Is it not just an agreed upon symbol?

I like to think of money as being a symbol of energy.

People exert energy (working) to earn money (a symbol of energy).

When one has money, they can exchange the paper for other peoples’ services (or their energy). One can also trade this paper for goods (which required energy on other peoples’ part, to construct).

The more money we have, the more energy we can put into action. The less money, the less energy we can put into action. To gain money, our exertion of energy must be of value to others. Is that not what entrepreneurship is partly about—providing value—while assuming risk for financial gain?

I think a lot of artists think of money as something that they either have or do not. This lack of money, often controls whether or not they will work at all. I find that to be a shame and lacking in imagination.

Altering one’s perspective on money can enable one to think of ways to develop value for others. What services or goods can you provide, which will cause others to want to give you their symbols of energy?

What value can you offer? What value might you offer?

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and The International Theatre Academy Norway. For more on Hart, see   www.harttechnique.com

Accessing Multiple Intelligences to Break Through

In Author: Adam Shames on November 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm

As a culture–and as individuals and organizations–we more than ever need to make some breakthroughs. Sometimes this can be in the form of a “Breakthrough Innovation” that changes the way we work, communicate, access information, or structure our healthcare system (this would be a “miracle breakthrough,” I’m afraid). Other times it’s you as an individual suddenly seeing differently and getting insight that can make your life a lot better.

The creativity competency here for you to build is flexibility, which includes your ability to break out of a paradigm or mindset that you may not realize you’re stuck in. Here’s a mindset challenge I like to offer in my creativity sessions:
A great mathematician determined that half of eight can actually be zero. How is that possible?

If you can’t figure this out immediately (usually only about 1/3 of people can), it means you need to change the way you’re thinking, which researchers refer to as “breaking set” or “blockbusting.” I call this the skill of shifting–your perspective, your lens, sometimes even your attitude. Understanding and consciously flexing our multiple intelligences is one way to do just that.

Multiple Intelligence theory, widely accepted in the world of education, came out of the work of Harvard researcher Howard Gardner, a great paradigm-shifter himself, who studied prodigies and people with brain damage to build his theory that intelligence cannot be measured as a single entity. In addition to the IQ-associated S.A.T. intelligences–mathematical/logical and verbal–he delineated at least six other autonomous intelligences that all healthy people possess, but not necessarily in equal strengths. They include the four above–visual-spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal and bodily-kinesthetic–as well two others, auditory-musical and natural. These intelligences are quite different from each other–thus you can be great with words and terrible at math, smart in your head but not smart in the world. The key to understand about intelligences is that we are all smart. But it’s how we are smart that matters, especially when it comes to our flexibility and creativity. Flexibly acessing different intelligences is not only a hallmark of creative people, but it is also essential for teachers and presenters who need to engage people who learn differently.

Consciously shifting your intelligence is a technique I use in brainstorming/ideation sessions to get you to think in ways you hadn’t considered. When you’re stuck, ask yourself, “What if I think about this visually or interpersonally or naturally?” Most creative business breakthroughs–ranging from wearing your music to the latest software program, from an experiential marketing campaign to the new restaurant that feels like it’s outdoors–come from insight originating from a flexibility among intelligences, a movement from logical to visual, from words to moods, from the man-made to the natural.

Now back to our mindset challenge. To figure out why half of eight is zero, just shift from your mathematical intelligence to your visual…

For more from Adam, go to his Innovation on my Mind blog…

Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov 16-22, 2009

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creativity and Innovation, Current Events, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Global Entrepreneurship, sponsored byThe Kauffman Foundation— the world’s largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship– is happening Nov 16-22 this year.

For one week, millions from around the world will join a growing movement of entrepreneurial individuals, to generate new ideas and to seek better ways of doing things. Countries across six continents are coming together to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity. To think big. To turn their ideas into reality. To make their mark.

Are You Ready to Make YOUR Mark?????

There are no geographic or socioeconomic boundaries to Global Entrepreneurship Week. Anyone can participate:

How Can You Get Involved?

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Get involved today at the Global Entrepreneurship Week web site, www.unleashingideas.org.

Choosing the Perfect Grad School: Part 1

In Author: David Cutler, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Music on November 10, 2009 at 12:00 am

Choices

The process of choosing the perfect graduate school can be both exhilarating and scary, as you consider the next phase of your life.  But many artists approach this challenge with a faulty set of assumptions, while failing to explore the most important question. 

Assumption #1: Grad school is non-negotiable

In many fields within the arts world, there is a notion that advanced degrees are requisite.   It’s not even a debate.  That’s just what we do.  Master’s Degree, then Artist Diploma, and then in many cases, the Doctorate. 

Now, I’m not one to prescribe one path over another. If you decide to pursue advanced degrees, I wish you the best.  But before signing up, ask yourself why.  What’s your true motivation?

One student justified her rationale this way: She read a study showing that people with advanced degrees earned more than those with just an undergrad education.  However, while these statistics may be true as sweeping generalizations, we need to dig further. Do alumni from medical schools, law schools, and MBA programs tend to earn more than those with just undergrad instruction?  Definitely.  Can the same case be made for artists?  Probably not.  In fact, many artists with multiple advanced degrees can’t even land a job.  (Maybe it’s time to become a bit savvier…)

Others claim that advanced training is essential in order to have more time to improve their artistic skills.  Fair enough.  Arts school is a great place to do this.  But when you’re a better practicioner, in two or four or ten years, with all kinds of diplomas on your wall, then what?  Will these outstanding skills entitle you to professional success?  And if improved technique is your solitary goal, why not just take private lessons?

In my experience, here’s the number one reason arts students go to grad school: to postpone the inevitable.  To buy a few more years before they have to earn a living, start paying back student loans, and grapple with “grown-up” issues.  Music school may be challenging, but at least it’s familiar and safe.

There are all kinds of paths to a successful life, and not all require advanced degrees.  Be honest with yourself.  If your primary motivator for attending grad school is that you don’t know what else to do, and you’re too scared of the real world, seriously consider taking some time off.  Use that occasion to determine what you truly want from life, and architect a solid plan for getting there.

There are many wonderful reasons for enrolling in graduate programs in the arts.  Denial is not one of them.

Assumption #2: Only the people who go to the “best” schools will succeed

In the past, the very act of listing a famous school on your resume could open doors.  “Wow, she went to [Juilliard, Eastman, Yale, Indiana University, other prestigious school]!  She must be good!” 

But times and attitudes have changed.  Most people now realize that a wide variety of institutions are capable of providing quality educations, which is absolutely true.  They also understand that even the most famous schools have produced duds and incompetents. 

So instead of focusing solely on the “where,” employers and other opportunity providers are more interested in the kinds of experiences you’ve had.  Did you study abroad?  Tour?  Win the concerto competition? Make recordings?  Initiate an art exhibit? Intern with the ballet? Found a service organization?

Of course, you should still choose a great school.  But different environments are good for different things.  Make sure you know why the school you choose is outstanding, and take full advantage of it.  The best opportunities often lie beyond the obvious choices. 

Assumption #3: The most important aspect when choosing a grad school is your private instructor

Working closely with a strong and revered private mentor can be a wonderful process.  But (if you’re doing things right) many more aspects contribute to your educational success beyond private lessons.  These additional factors should be considered as well, and weighed heavily in your decision.

One of my music students is currently applying to doctoral schools.  As we discussed options, he kept focusing on the teachers at various institutions, as if that were the primary consideration.  But here’s the deal…He is already an astounding player.  There’s no gig in the world where observers would reflect, “You know, this guy just isn’t good enough.” 

But there are many other skills and experiences he desperately needs, and shortcomings that should be addressed: recording, touring, marketing, booking gigs, etc.  He doesn’t yet have a website, hasn’t commissioned much, and still needs to figure out his brand and what makes him different from the competition.  In my view, while a good private teacher would be nice for this student, it should be a pretty low priority item. 

Even if you still have to get your artistic chops together (as most of us do), many additional factors beyond the private teacher should be considered when researching graduate programs.

In Part 2 of this series, I will unveil the most important question to ask when looking at grad schools.

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Art and The Public Purpose: A New Framework

In Art, Author: John Cimino, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Leadership on November 7, 2009 at 10:51 pm
Arts Leaders and Activists Converge on the Whitehouse

More than sixty activist artists, community artists, and creative organizers took part in a conversation with the White House.

The public dialogue on the arts and our national economic and cultural recovery is one in which all of us should and can have a voice.  Some of our most thoughtful cultural leaders have been bringing this public dialogue directly to the White House.  The exchanges there and elsewhere have fermented the drafting of new frameworks document for the arts in the context of what is being called “The Public Purpose”.   The document is authored first to last by a brave contingent of artists and cultural leaders committed to the arts and the potency of their survival their value to all of us in a democracy. 

Chief among these arts voices is Arlene Goldbard, author of The New Creative Community, and whose own blog site is richly steeped in this public dialogue.  For my money, she is one of our most gifted and incisive voices for the arts, creativity and community to be found anywhere.  I am, therefore, handing over the remainder of this blog entry to Arlene’s own eloquence. 
The three links will set the stage for your own exploration of these issues: (a) a perspective on cultural recovery Cultural Recovery, (b) a report on the White House Briefing, White House Briefing on Art, Community, Social Justice, National Recovery and (c) the New Framework document itself , Art & The Public Purpose: A New Framework.  
 
Do consider adding your name to those endorsing the New Framework and, by all means, forward it through your personal networks to get the word out.   Working together, we can make a difference!
John Cimino
Creative Leaps International

How Much is Too Much?

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton on November 7, 2009 at 4:10 am

I got into an argument yesterday with one of my fellow Blue Damen team members about how many projects we should be scheduling for next year. We didn’t really resolve things straight out,  but it did get me thinking about where the line is between doing enough and doing too much.

The first part of this argument is where do you draw the line between projects from your personal life vs projects from your professional life? For instance, this coming year I will be planning a wedding. A wedding is a Big Deal that will take up a lot of time and resources. In fact producing a film and producing a wedding involve largely the same resources and the same kind of time commitment. The only difference is that a wedding is a personal project while a film is a professional project.

The problem is time. As C.S. Lewis says:  ” The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. ”  There is only so much time in the day and only so many days in a year. Do I choose to commit that time to a personal project or to a professional one? If I choose to only work on a personal project such as a wedding I lose my professional momentum from having films in production or in the festival circuit. On the other hand, if I commit myself entirely to a film and neglect my personal life then who am I but a sum of my work?

Is it really too much to ask to have both? Are personal projects and professional projects mutually exclusive? At what point do you begin to sacrifice one for the other?  I don’t have answers for these questions. I would like to think that the line between professional and personal is not as distinct as we like to think that it is. I would like to think that my profession is part of who I am personally, not just something that I do during the 9 to 5. I would like to believe that my personal life is equally important to my professional work as the films I produce.

So how much is too much? To work in a creative industry is to reach deep down inside your personal self and to develop something expressive and innovative and sincere through hard work and collaboration.  To separate the personal from the professional is what makes work overwhelming.

The Green Stuff of Life

In Author: Lisa Canning, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Money on November 6, 2009 at 9:37 am

dreamstime_2684500Money. Money. Money. We simply can’t live with out it, and we wouldn’t want to either. Money is simply in every fiber and fabric of our lives. It is that basic and deep to us as human beings. It’s something we need to survive.

Think about the things that only money can buy—a better education for you or someone in your family; medicine to bring health of comfort to a parent who is gravely ill, or maybe a beautiful ring for the girl you want to marry. Are these things possible without money—99 percent of the time, the answer to that question is no. Too bad no one has invented a “money tree” just yet. Sure would make life easier, wouldn’t it?

Yet as important and vital as money is in our lives we often don’t stop to consider the long-term effect our values and beliefs about money will have on the outcome of our lives and our careers.

Let’s face it; to a great extent, our financial resources determine what our lives will be like. The amount of money you earn effects most options and choices that are available to you: where you live, the number of children you can afford to raise in the way you envision, how much you can save for your retirement, where you travel, and what kind of car you drive. Read the rest of this entry »

Collective Brainstorming

In Author: Jim Hart on November 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

Just as the energy of moving water can propel a water wheel into motion, so can stimulus engage the imagination and our creative impulses. We need input, in order to output. We need gas in our mental engines, in order to move forward. Group brainstorming can provide such fuel.

Brainstorming. What a great word. For me, it conjures up a storm in the mind. Electricity. One of my favorite acts to engage in, in the creative process, is collective brainstorming. It is an act that can generate phenomenal inspiration and can generate ideas that would not have been possible, without this contribution of multiple minds.

In building my first school, TITAN Teaterskole (in Oslo, Norway), I created a course that was exclusively dedicated to the act of collective brainstorming. I called it Studio Lab.

Here are are some foundation rules that we found especially strong in stimulating constructive brainstorming:

o   Egos must be checked at the door. Each individual in the group needs to sacrifice their personal motivations and desires, in order to act in the service of the larger group/project/idea. We must let go of emotional connection to ideas we come up with or get excited about. In the words of legendary choreographer Martha Graham, “We must kill our children”. I believe she means that we must sometimes sacrifice those ideas that our personal treasures. It is very easy to become married to an idea. Sometimes, in order to create our larger work and to make it as strong as possible, we must kill or sacrifice ideas that we love the most.

o    There is no “right”. There is no “wrong”. There is only what we create. What we create today will be different from what we create tomorrow. Why put value on it so early in the process? One thing for sure…collaboration is a process of evolution. It is a process of change. Sometimes our creations are built upon seemingly non-connected ideas. Sometimes our best impulses are sitting on a foundation of others’ ideas. Ideas are born upon one another.

o    Don’t censor yourself. As long as we are judging and censoring our ideas, they will not see the light of day. Sometimes, we come up with an idea that we are reluctant to share. In such an environment, why would we be reluctant? Typically, it is because we fear the judgment of others. Here is one of my favorite Martha Graham Quotes:

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.

~Martha Graham to Agnes  de Mille

Jim Hart is the founder of The International Theatre Academy Norway and The Hart Technique.  http://www.harttechnique.com

The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™ is Alive!

In Author: Jim Hart, Author: Lisa Canning, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Health & Wellness, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 5, 2009 at 7:03 am

IAE logoIn September of 2010 The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™ will open its doors at 3020 N Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. Our two year finishing program, will teach artists how to make a living from their artistry.

To learn more about IAE check out our website. Applications for early enrollment are now being accepted.

Overcoming Mediocrity

In Author: Jim Hart on November 4, 2009 at 1:08 am
Pic of sheep

Baaahhhh!

In Australia, it is called “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (the tallest poppies get cut). In Scandinavia, it is called Jante Loven (or Jante’s Law). Many countries weave a societal pressure into their cultural fabric, teaching youth to not stand out, to fit in, and to tow the community party line. The goal of such behavior is to promote a sense of “equality”, cultural identity and a feeling that everyone is equal.

However, what these phenomenon’s spell out to me, is a social goal of mediocrity. Shoot for the middle. If you are in the middle, you might feel that that you are gaining a sense of security.

Such social pressures are not only present down under and in the far north. It is found in Read the rest of this entry »

Isn’t it Time You Became a Savvy Artist?

In Author: David Cutler, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on November 3, 2009 at 3:56 am

Chapter03It’s clear. The evidence is indisputable.  You’re a talented artist.  Really talented.  And accomplished.  You work hard, and have a top notch education.  Heck, you’re even good looking!  A prosperous life in music is nearly guaranteed, no?   

Unfortunately, no.  Not by a long shot.  But you surely realize this already. 

Being talented is wonderful, but technical skills alone do not assure a successful life in this business! Savvy artists have huge advantages over the others, and it’s no mystery why. They work pro-actively to build their career, making smart choices that allow them to earn a good living, and make a positive difference. In addition to outstanding artistic ability, the savviest artists:

  1. Dream big
  2. Think creatively
  3. Take risks and are willing to fail (or even succeed!)
  4. Create opportunities where they don’t exist
  5. Understand the nuts and bolts of the business
  6. Invent remarkable products
  7. Distinguish their work
  8. Take the initiative
  9. Follow through
  10. Build a strong brand
  11. Prioritize both content AND presentation
  12. Market extraordinarily
  13. Comprehend money matters
  14. Fundraise effectively
  15. Educate powerfully
  16. Embrace technology
  17. Excel with people skills
  18. Maintain a strong network
  19. Assemble an outstanding team
  20. Leave a legacy

Obviously, few people are experts in every category above.  When a weakness occurs, you have three options: 1) develop the skill (costs energy), 2) hire someone else to help (costs money), or 3) forfeit opportunities (costs success).  But most people who architect a fulfilling life in music exhibit many of these characteristics.

My new book, The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference (officially released today, though pre-release copies have been available for a few months), tackles each of these issues.  Though focusing on musicians, lessons taught apply directly to artists of all disciplines.  This comprehensive resource is packed with detailed strategies for success alongside examples of real life role models.  Whether hoping to augment income, stand out from a competitive field, add variety to activities, or erect an empire, The Savvy Musician will help you find ways to thrive under any circumstances. 

But it’s only a book.  As Ranaan Meyer, bassist of Time for Three, noted: 

The Savvy Musician unveils a vision for a healthy [artistic] future, articulating 99% of what we need to do.  The missing percentage is YOU.”

 Isn’t it time you became a savvy artist?

To learn more about “The Savvy Musician,” and for a wide array of free resources, visit www.SavvyMusician.com.

Happy 3rd Birthday ETA! How far we have come, and our journey has just begun.

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Artist Contest Contestants, Entrepreneurial Evolution on November 1, 2009 at 9:29 pm

fireworks3 Back on November 1st, 2006, I launched ETA. It is hard to believe I have been blogging now for three years!

Shall we celebrate with a virtual party? Take a sip of something bubbly, steaming or thirst quenching and lets flip through some memories together. And as for the cake, you can have the first piece.

Here is a link to my very first post, Hello World! (I launched ETA on my father’s birthday, Nov 1st, in honor of his memory and entrepreneurial journey throughout his life.)

Here is my post from our first birthday party….

dreamstime_5860601

Our second birthday was celebrated with the launch of The ETA competition with our first entry, Brian Owens. Although Eli Epstein was our first contest winner, this marked the beginning of a number of fine entries to the competition. We still hope for more of you to enter before the 2nd, and final competition, ends on December 31st, 2009.

I am so happy that ETA is finally three- there is a reason for the expression ” the terrible two’s.” The development of a child and a venture have a similar road map. The first two years of life are about survival, rapid growth and evolution, experimentation and a lot of “Ah-Ha” moments! These are important developmental years and the lessons we learn and “roots” we plant tend to greatly shape our future.

Thanks for reminiscing with me a bit.

I hope to share the first few birthdays of your (ad)venture with you. That is why I am launching The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™– for your ideas to be supported, nurtured and developed to come to life too!

IAE logoIn celebration of our 3rd birthday, The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™ website will launch this week. Stay tuned.

Support a Worthy Artist’s Entrepreneurial Development
No Starving Artist 2010 We are now selling this button for $1.00 or whatever you feel comfortable donating. We are selling them to fundraise for scholarships for arts entrepreneurship training for a worthy artist to attend IAE.

bite_size_04Because all IEA students will partake in building their own Bite-Size Arts Ensemble™ to develop their own entrepreneurial imaginations and those in the community, I am asking you to make your donation to The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble support fund. Your donation is tax deductible. ETA and The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble™ are both a 501c3. To buy one and make a donation click here.

Staying Healthy in the (Financial) Storm

In Author: Linda Essig, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on October 31, 2009 at 12:32 am

weathering the storm

I’ve been doing some research lately on measures of the fiscal health of not-for-profit arts organizations, especially theatres. This got me thinking about the factors that support the fiscal health of individual artists and arts entrepreneurs. In a 2001 article, Mark Hager examines four measures of fiscal stability – of the ability of an organization to withstand the kinds of economic shocks we’ve experience over the last twelve months. (He adapted these from some earlier work by Tuckman and Chang.)

The four measures are: equity balance, revenue concentration, administrative cost, and operating margin.
How can we translate these four organizational measures into something useful for individual artists and arts entrepreneurs? Here is some of my preliminary thinking:

1. Equity balance. It’s always nice to have some money in the bank. From a practical standpoint, having a cushion in the bank can help support the artist in lean times. Building up that cushion during lean times is difficult but should be a priority during the fat times. I even think there’s a story about that somewhere regarding Joseph and a pharaoh’s dreams.

2. Revenue concentration. It’s much easier for an arts entrepreneur to withstand the sudden withdrawal of one client if they have more than one. So, if you’re counting on that one big commission, you may want to backstop that with several smaller commissions as well. Multiple revenue sources guard against permanent damage when any one of those streams dries up.

3. Administrative costs. Believe it or not, studies (Hager’s and others) indicate that it’s worth investing in the people and equipment necessary to run your arts-based business. Doing so has two positive effects on financial stability: 1) solid administrative capacity and 2) there’s somewhere to cut if the times get really really lean.

4. Operating margin. Pretty simple – don’t spend more than you earn. If you do, you’ll need to dip into that equity balance from item one, further diversify your revenue, or sell off the new copier/scanner you purchased to support your office operations.
It all sounds like common sense to me and I’ve been glad to find out that that common sense is actually backed up by empirical research!

Halloween Identity Instructions

In Author: Adam Shames on October 30, 2009 at 5:36 am

Sure, I loved the candy-accumulation of Halloween as a kid, but I think I love the holiday even more as an adult because it gives us rare permission to try out a new self, to experiment with who we think we are. In case you haven’t decided on (or whether to wear) a costume yet, here are my creative instructions:

1. Use the opportunity to truly explore an identity quite different from yours. Come on, time to initiate.
2. Consult your inside to figure out what you want to be on the outside. What do you feel like being? Whose identity would you like to check out? Look around your home for possible costume components that call to you to put them on.
3. Avoid the standard personas and come up with something that you’ve never been before or perhaps you are creating just this once.
4. Stay in character all night.

Taking on another identity is a great way to build the creativity competency of flexibility–your talent in appreciating different perspectives and experiencing the “other.” To be flexible means that you are willing and able to try on different coats and see from different lenses, to visit diverse neighborhoods in the city and in your mind.

It’s not easy to take on another, especially unusual, identity, even on Halloween. People want to figure out “who you are” and don’t have a lot of patience for something they can’t easily categorize. Here in Chicago I’ve found people are hesitant to stay in character even if well-costumed, preferring to meet you at a party with their real name and the literal “What do you do?” question. Screw ’em. This is Halloween. Commit to your identity, do what feels true to him/her/it, and forgive yourself later for any indiscretions.

Believe me, I know, as I was extremely unpopular last year as “Manimal,” the hair sprouting, woman-repelling hybrid man/animal; and almost entirely unknown the year before as the great Sufi poet Rumi (San Franciscans certainly would have known me and more actively welcomed my poetic proclamations). I did get some needs met, though, as “Mr. ExSqueezeMe” the year before (see shirt, minus a few squeezables, in photo above), where I used a glue gun to attach random touchable items, from a toilet paper role to stress balls, and encouraged interaction (and hugs).

You might get a kick out of an article I wrote a few years back when I was so taken by the colored leaves of the moment that I transformed into “Leaf Man”:
It’s Halloween and I find myself going down into the bowels of Excalibur, a downtown bar, to enter the Red Masque Ball. Dozens of Chicagoans are in disguise, and I quickly find myself chatting with a Martha Stewart here, a bloodied biker there, an assortment of devils and angels everywhere. I hang out with a large, green cylindrical walking bong, while Marilyn Monroe and several versions of felines purr nearby…” Click to read entire article.

 So Happy Halloween week to you, and may you use this opportunity to expand the confines of who you are and gain that special creative insight when you take on an identity that is not your own…

More from Adam, check out his Innovation on my Mind blog.