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The Your Ladders Blog

There are a lot of things to think about when you're navigating a performing arts path. These blog topics will help.

SUPPORTING OTHERS

I talked about networking a couple of weeks ago. I want to drill down on one aspect of networking, and of being part of a community. How good are you about supporting the work of others?

In the performing arts a scarcity mentality can grip us easily. There aren’t enough jobs, there aren’t enough opportunities, there aren’t enough. From that comes the “why them and not me” feelings that get fed by jealousy.

I want to encourage you to reject this, and support the work of others. You didn’t get cast in a show, but a friend did? Go to the show and clap the loudest.

You don’t like the work of a particular artist? Go to their latest work. Have they improved? Do you have greater appreciation for it?

Are you an automatic critic? I found that I wear that hat sometimes, especially in theater, where I understand the work the best. One day I went to a show by myself, and the inner critic started. Then I looked around, and saw dozens of folks having a...

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GRATITUDE

On Thursday, here in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving. In this blog post I want to focus on the gift of gratitude.

I understand that the path of being an artist can be, and often is, very difficult. Burn out is real. Making a living is difficult and requires a lot of juggling. Disappointment can be part of the journey. All of this is true, and are issues I talk about in other blog posts, and in my classes.

But today I am going to encourage you to stop, take out a piece of paper, and grab a pen. Ready? Now write down numbers from 1-25 along the side of the paper. Beside each number write down something you are grateful for.

This could take five minutes, or three days. The list could include profound items, or an acknowledgement of your favorite hot beverage.

Now, look at your list through your artist’s lens. How many things on the list reflect your artistic life? I’m hoping at least half of them. If not, can you revisit the list with that intention? Can you...

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SKILL BUILDING IN THE ARTS

Opening Your Ladders has required me to learn a lot of new skills, and that’s been thrilling. It’s also required me to rethink a lot of strategies. Again, thrilling. Scary and exhausting, but thrilling.

In my writing life (I write crime fiction), I remember sitting next to a well published author at a character workshop. I mentioned that I was surprised to see her there. She told me that she always sat in on workshops, and in doing so she always picked up a new idea. It helped keep her fresh. A light bulb went off.

As a performing artist, I want to encourage you to continue to build your skills no matter where you are on your career path. If you’re interested in building skills towards producing your own work, or you want to ground your career with some business planning, then Your Ladders has been created for you. Look at the Footing Your Ladder course--it provides the planning skills you’ll need.

What other skills can you develop? If you’re a singer,...

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YOU'RE TAKING NAMES!

As part of my ongoing #5ArtsThoughts series, I'm talking about taking names. If you're in the performing arts and you're not taking names, here's five reasons why you should!

Do you have names, and you aren't sure what to do with them? Check out my Spotlight On Spreadsheets class! For just $99 I'll show you how to use spreadsheets in addition to spreadsheet use for budgeting, audience development (taking names) and career development. The course has great value, but is priced to be affordable for artists. I also have a monthly installment option.

 

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Intro to #5ArtsThoughts series!

I've decided to start a series of videos I'm calling #5ArtsThoughts. Here's a intro video to the series. Feel free to subscribe to them on YouTube, or check back on the blog. I'll be posting them here as well.

 

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NEVER STOP LEARNING

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn in my life is that you’re never done learning. Actually, the hardest part is that I need to accept that’s part of the process. I am a fiction writer, and every time I sit down to start a book I’m convinced I won’t be able to do it. Every first draft is terrible. But editing and polish, plus a lot of practice, teaches me that at some point the book will be ready for readers.

As performing artists you understand that you have to practice your craft in order for it to remain fresh. You also have to take classes and learn new techniques in order to continue to grow. As your craft matures you need to acquire new skills. Some of them are to add depth to your work. Others are to adjust to a new phase in your career.

When you feel stuck as an artist, one of the best ways to reboot is to learn new skills. They can include business skills to help you produce your own work, or take better control of your career. They could also...

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ARTS ADVOCACY--TELLING YOUR STORY

October 26 is #ArtsMatterDay in Massachusetts. Of course, it could be #ArtsMatterDay no matter where you live, but this effort is being lifted by MASSCreative, an arts advocacy agency for Massachusetts. I’ve worked with them for a number of years, and have learned a great deal about being an arts advocate from their team. As we are in an election cycle, it is a good time to talk about arts advocacy and what it means.

As an artist you understand the value of the arts. The arts are transformational, they build community, they offer new perspectives, they inspire, they teach creative and critical thinking skills, they foster collaboration. The list goes on. Take some time and make your own list.

The arts aren’t superfluous. They are vital to our overall well being. I know that in my heart and soul. But how do I help folks who don’t understand the value know that? Especially folks who are in the position to make policy decisions that affect the sector? Decisions around...

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THE ARTIST AS ENTREPRENEUR

I’ve been working in the arts for over thirty years and I’m really excited about a new trend I’m noticing around the way folks are producing their own work, Now, in some disciplines that’s always been the case. But in the performing arts, particularly theater, folks have felt the need to create a  company then create a season then produce their work. There have been exceptions, of course. Commercial theater has a lot of solo producers. But in the non-profit and community realm, starting a company has been the first step for most folks by rote. Or folks aspire to start a company. That’s changing.

I’m seeing two trends in this. First, a lot of the folks diving into this are working in the small/fringe scale. For these artists, starting a company and planning a season can be a resource drain. These groups are usually under-funded, and most folks participating are working several jobs to make it all work. Trying to produce two or three shows a...

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WHY DID I NAME MY SCHOOL YOUR LADDERS?

This past winter I signed up for Marie Forleo's B-School in part to help me take my mystery writing life to the next level, in part to help me do my job running a non-profit arts service organization, and in part because I love learning. I was also teaching an arts administration class, and one of my students told me he was grateful for the practical knowledge because it made graduation less daunting. He also told me he worried about his friends who hadn't taken an arts administration class and were going to try and build a career.

All of this came together and birthed a new idea. What would happen if I took my thirty years of experience in arts administration coupled with my love of teaching, and created a platform where both could live, and be accessible to more people? What would I call this online school?

When I do presentations about making a life in the arts, I show a picture of a long ladder, and explain that many careers look like that ladder. Expected rungs and a fairly...

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