The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

9000 Km in 4 days August 30, 2010

Filed under: Australia — Rebecca Coleman @ 1:52 pm

The travelling Social Media show has hit the road! We left Melbourne at noon on Sunday, and flew into the Gold Coast of Australia, Surfer’s Paradise, to be exact. Let me tell you, they don’t call it Paradise for nothing. There is beach as far as you can see, and not just any beach. Fine, white sand, perfect, pristine, hardly even a seashell. Rollers crashing up on the beach. I dipped my toes in the Australian ocean.

Monday morning: our venue for the workshop is The Gold Coast Arts Centre, a stunning facility that houses theatres, movie theatres, art galleries and restaraunts. I am in awe of this resource, it’s completely amazing. We do our workshop for about 30 in a basement room that is usually a cabaret space. Wonderful day. Great feedback.

megan shorey meganshorey

@rebeccacoleman it’s been a great day full of brain food – Thank you both 🙂

Jonathan Bee-Dub jbutlerwhite

Everywhere I go lately, I have amazing conversations about social media w/ Canadians. Thanks @rebeccacoleman for a fantastic seminar today.

eduardomurillo eduardomurillo

Did a Social Network Marketing seminar with @rebeccacoleman at The Art Centre Gold Coast. She knows her stuff & learned some new marketing.

A cab is waiting for us at the door at 5 pm, we grab our stuff and dash without hardly saying goodbye. We get to the airport, check in, have some dinner while waiting for the plane, then board for the nearly three-hour flight to Adelaide.

Today, we do the workshop here, and then dash out the door to the airport for a flight back to Melbourne. Then, tomorrow morning, I am on a flight home.

All together, 9000 Km in four days. My head is spinning, but I am also so grateful to have had this experience. I’ve learned so much and been so inspired by the amazing energy of the workshop participants.

I miss my son, so I’m happy to be getting home, but Australia, I’ll be back! You’ve been warned!

And no doubt will write future posts on what I’ve absorbed here, as it all has a chance to settle.

 

I Heart Melbourne August 27, 2010

Filed under: Australia — Rebecca Coleman @ 3:36 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling this summer. It started with going to the Okanagan Film Festival at the end of July, then a trip down the Oregon coast to the Napa Valley in August, and now to Australia. I’ve seen some really cool places, but none of them have captured my heart quite like Melbourne.

I can’t help but compare this city to Vancouver, and there are lots of wonderful things that we share in common: cool, artsy neighborhoods, and lots of green spaces. Melbourne, however, is a city of 4 million, as opposed to our 1 million, so it certainly is all on a bigger scale.

There are two things that I really find different and interesting about Melbourne, as opposed to Vancouver. The first is that the Cultural district is really in the middle of the city, in easy reach of tourists, and is very central. A block or two from the main train station are the major (national) art galleries and performance centres, as well as many other, secondary galleries and theatres.

The National Arts Centre

The second thing I’m loving about Melbourne is how willing they are to take risks. Sure, the larger theatres are doing Shakespeare and other easily-recognizable big shows. But there are also lots and lots of people that are doing edgy, developed work that blurs the boundary between theatre and performance art. In Vancouver, we hardly do that kind of stuff, because it doesn’t pay. It’s hard to get an audience in to see it. But here, there appears to be more funding for the arts, and they are, therefore, able to be more creative, free, and derivative in their work.

The Victorian architecture is stunning, and the food has been world-class. Even places that we stop at for a sandwich at lunch seem to be able to elevate that simple dish to a whole new level.

Don’t even get me started on the people. And I got to see penguins.

I’m completely in love with this city.

 

The First Workshop August 26, 2010

Filed under: Australia,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 1:48 pm
Tags: , ,

Talk about hitting the ground running. I mean, I knew I would, but I think I was maybe not quite prepared for the pace of the last couple of days.

What I love about it, though, is that I feel like I’m really immersing myself in the Melbourne theatre scene, and I’m getting an intsense and quick schooling in how its done here.

Most of Wednesday was workshop prep at the Incubator with John Paul. Planning, creating PowerPoint, handouts, dealing with the tech stuff–did we have internet access, did the video projector talk to the computer, etc. My interview in Arts Hub also came out, so that was pretty exiting.

We took a break to attend a marketing event at The Malthouse Theatre. I was in love with this venue. I hope I get a chance to go back and take pictures and share them with you, because it was the kind of space that we dream of having in Vancouver. Brand-spanking new, gorgeous, industrial-feeling type lobby with a coffee/lunch bar (where there were tons of theatre people doing deals and having meetings) and a really great black box theatre which seats about 500, depending on configuration.

Thursday was the workshop. Our venue was the South Melbourne Town Hall, just across the street from where the new home of the Incubator will be. There were 40 people there, primarily from the theatre scene, but a few visual artists, some musicians, and one woman and her partner who had a children’s show. (The photo I took didn’t turn out because my camera’s batteries died)

What in inspirational day. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to watch people switch on to social media and how it can help them to connect with shier audience.

After, we went round to a local pub for a cider with a couple of the participants and enjoyed the same conversation that I have had with theatre artists everywhere: Why are we doing this? Why is there never enough money? How do we encourage people who don’t come to the theatre to come to our shows? Seems like, no matter where we are, we all seem to struggle with the same things.

JP and I had a “Starving Artists Pre-Theatre Supper” and then went to see [Title of Show] at a lovely space called TheatreWorks.

Last story of the day: when I got home, I tweeted about what fun I’d had at [TOS] and how much I loved the song “Die, Vampire, Die.” This morning, I got this reply:

These guys were not at my workshop, but they clearly didn’t need it. Melbourne gets it.

 

Barking Spiders August 24, 2010

Last night, I attended a fundraiser for Black Hole Theatre at a local Melbourne theatre, La Mama. It’s a teeny, tiny, ancient black-box theatre. The patrons there were joking about how, if you drilled into the walls, you could tell how old the building was by the layers of paint–just like a tree. The theatre has a working fireplace, and could seat about 30-40. The Loo was an outhouse in the courtyard, which also was the “lobby” and bar. I thought it was all really cool and charming, it reminded me a bit of the Cultch.

There were three perfomances at the fundraiser, and the last was by a theatre company called Barking Spider. Helmed by Penelope Bartlau, who also works at the Auspicious Arts Incubator, they do ‘Visual Theatre.’ The piece they did last night involved a percussionist named Leah Scholes and a pile of books, called Page Turner, and it was playful and really fun. This was a brand-new piece that she is perfoming in Brisbane this weekend, but here is one of thier older pieces, Breakfast Serial.

 

Hoopla and Heartache over Reviewers August 23, 2010

The theatrosphere has been buzzing the last few days with controversy involving reviewers and what their rights are.

It all started out with this blog post that was published on August 17th. Mack D. Male’s friend, Sharon Yeo, who writes what is primarily a foodie blog called Only Here for the Food, had been asked, in a not especially nice manner, by the Artistic Director of a company who was producing at the Edmonton Fringe this year, to no longer attend or review any of their shows.

You can read all the posts and all the comments that come after for yourself. But for me, this brings up lots of interesting questions. The joy of the blogosphere, for me, is that anyone with a WordPress or Blogger or TypePad account can write about whatever topic they choose. I love that we have the power to create our own content. However, just because you have a blog, does that make you a reviewer? Or should we leave that job to the people who get paid to write reviews?

The second question this brings up for me is about addressing what is, essentially, a personal issue in a public forum. I’m not saying that Jeff Halsam was right in doing what he did, but I do think it was foolish of him to do it in such a public way. If I were his company’s publicist, I’d be freaking out, because this has all the makings of a PR nightmare.

As a publicist, I would never, ever turn down any kind of possible publicity, whether it’s from someone who gets paid to write reviews or not. A great example is Miss 604. If Rebecca writes a post on one of my clients, I know that post will be seen by thousands of people that day. Rebecca doesn’t get paid to write her primary blog, but her popularity is such that, even though she’s not a formal reviewer, I still welcome her to write because I know it will be excellent exposure.

What do you think? Do reviewers, formal or informal, have too much power? As a producer, do you have the right to tell them to sod off? (sorry, I’m in Australia right now).

As ever, I look forward to reading your comments below.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

 

Off to the Land of Oz August 22, 2010

Filed under: Life,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 2:11 pm

I’m writing this as I sit at my gate in YVR, waiting for my flight to LA. I have a fairly long layover at LAX, and then I’m on to a 15-hour plane ride to Melbourne.

I’m not certain what the next 10 days will bring. I know I have three workshops booked in three different cities, and I’m really excited to meet new people and learn more about the indie theatre scene in Australia. My hope it to have enough time and brain cells left at the end of the day to blog, but I can’t promise anything.

All I can say is… watch this space.

 

No Starving Artists August 20, 2010

Filed under: Attitude,Business of Arts,Cash flow,Finances,interview,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:32 am
Tags: ,

A little while back, I was having an email conversation with my friend Paul. Now, I’ve known Paul since the time we shared a tent at a cabin on Mayne Island during our younger days, but in the past few years, I have become very proud of his accomplishments.

Paul, a former Registered Massage Therapist, started a business where he sells well-researched and written articles to folks who are trying to take more responsibility for their health. His business is called SaveYourself.ca, and it’s doing pretty well. So well, in fact, that Paul retired from the massage business as of January 1, 2010, and now writes for a living.

Our discussion was around getting paid to write. After all, if we are writers, don’t we get intrinsic value from writing? So should we always be getting paid for it?

Paul’s response stopped me in my tracks:

“Cold hard cash” value has been waaaay more satisfying for me than the “intrinsic” value thing (which I did in an impoverished way for 15 years). I’m particularly fond of the cash-generating approach since it’s now inevitable that I will soon be able to turn my attention to full-time creative writing.

Plus I found subject matter that I find personally interesting AND profitable to write about. 😉 That’s probably the real win: I wouldn’t be happy just writing anything I could sell. The challenge is to focus the writing on something that is both relevant to your bottom line AND your heart.

I asked him if we could continue the conversation for you, on my blog, and he said yes.

RC: For me, this whole debate we’ve been having is about values. The value of money versus the value of artistic expression/creativity. We live, as artists, in a world that believes that choosing the artistic or creative lifestyle means also choosing a life of poverty. Even more so, if you do become successful as an artist, you are often branded as a “sell out.” However, I would like to believe that I can be artistically fulfilled, and not have to live in a hovel and eat Kraft Dinner every day. Call me crazy. What are your thoughts on this?

PI: Life’s a tough place. A lot of humans don’t have clean water or a life expectancy much better than a poodle’s. I really believe that the idealistic artist lifestyle — both rewarding and remunerated — is a fantasy. It’s a healthy fantasy, but just an impossible goal for most people, even in rich nations.

It’s not just “the world” that believes that doing art means surviving on Kraft dinner: a whole lot of impoverished artists believe it too. I know dozens of impoverished artists, and many who quit because of it. And of the few successful artists I know, most are successful in large part because they had some major economic advantage to start with. It’s a hell of a lot easier to write a great book when you don’t have to worry about paying the rent!

It’s not impossible to make art pay, of course, just terribly difficult. Any individual artist has the potential to pull it off. But the pie is just not large enough for all of us, and most will fail to get more than a nibble. The few who start poor but get a satisfying bite in the end have got some serious game: not just craft, but exceptional perseverance and business savvy. And nearly all of them compromise.

In short, nearly all rags-to-riches artist success stories are achieved by diluting the purity of a dream with smart compromises and entrepreneurship. That’s certainly my story.

RC: Okay, I’ll bite. What’s your story?

PI: I guess I have a “success” story, which I’m starting to enjoy and still getting used to.

I started out as a creative writer, but I got weary of poverty and decided to get more entrepreneurial and started picking projects with some profit potential. About six years later, I write almost exclusively about health science (in a creative way), and I publish online and make a decent living selling e-book guides for patients about common pain problems. But the amount of money is not the best part. What really makes it a success story is the residuals. I have an stable and unusually passive income — my ebooks sell automatically, with basically no day-to-day work required. I’m not in a high tax bracket, but I have more income security than a Hollywood divorce lawyer, and more holidays. With a little updating now and then, my books will pay my rent for the rest of my life.

So I’m not yet 40, but I actually don’t really have to work any more. Sure, I’m still pounding away at my business, but mainly because I like it and I want to buy a few more toys, and maybe a house someday.

RC: Is what I’m hearing you say is, find a way to make your art business profitable, commercial? And then do the “fine” art, whatever that is, for yourself?

PI: I don’t really want to do “fine” art and creative writing “for me” — I want to do it for an audience. I want to succeed as an idealistic artist just as much as I did when I was 18, gunning for commercial success and critical acclaim. The difference is that now I can afford to pour myself into writing novels and short stories, thanks to the compromises I’ve made for the last ten years — which just don’t feel much like compromises now that they’ve paid off!

Should every artist do it this way? Probably not. There’s wiggle room depending on your goals and how much Kraft dinner you can stand eating. If you can you live with the odds being seriously stacked against you, then great, take that “high” road.

But few artists are really up for that. Most want to eat better and have a robust career. If that’s what you want, find the common ground between idealistic goals and what’s actually marketable and practical. Do that vend diagram! And then get to work in the overlap. Most artists won’t do it because entrepreneurship is too alien, because the compromises seem too extreme, and the pay-off is too distant. But that’s just what it takes … and the alternative is to NEVER have the time or resources to do what you really want to do.

RC: Thanks, Paul!

Both Paul and I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Go!

Paul Ingraham blogs sassily about pain and injury science at SaveYourself.ca (twitter, facebook). A former Registered Massage Therapist, he now calls himself a science journalist. Most of his passive income comes from a pair of best-selling ebooks, one about muscle knots (trigger points), and the other about a nasty knee problem that runners get, iliotibial band syndrome. It’s worth visiting those pages just to see an example of a profitable ebook presentation. Paul works in a downtown Vancouver home office with his wife and an editor cat.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook