The Art of the Business

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

Outsourcing March 22, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Cash flow,Finances,Future planning,Planning — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:40 am
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As artists in business, we are a one-person show, and we wear a lot of hats. Not only are responsible for the greatest bulk of our work, namely creating our art, but we are also responsible for the business and marketing of that work.

I talk to so many artists that say “I just want to do my work. I want someone else to handle the business.”

Realistically, you need to know how to manage your business, for a couple of different reasons. First of all, as you are just starting out, you probably don’t generate enough income to be able to pay someone to manage your business. Secondly, even if you did, many, many artists have been ripped off by unscrupulous people who recognize that the artist is willing to hand everything over and fully trust them. In order for you to not be in that kind of a position, you need to know enough about your business, and be involved enough in your business to recognize when something like this might be taking place.

So, certainly you need to have some basic knowledge in legal matters, bookkeeping and accounting, and marketing. However, at some point, you will no doubt want to outsource some of your business.

You’ll know you’re ready for this when:

1. You feel like you are able to do some of the basics, but you know that you’d be over your head if you attempted to go deeper. A good example of this is creating a website: you might have a clear idea about what you want on it and how you want it to look, but you don’t possess the technical skills to build it. Another great example is getting your taxes done by an accountant.
2. You know how to do something, but it takes you longer to do that an expert could do it, and you feel like your time is more valuable spent elsewhere. An example from my business is that I upload information about my client’s shows to certain event websites in Vancouver. Honestly, I hate this task. It’s repetitive and boring, but it’s a part of my contract, so I need to do it. I outsource this task, because my time is better spent contacting and pitching to the media and trying to get my clients preview and review articles.

I would love to hear what kinds of tasks you outsource from your business, and why. Please share!

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The power of just showing up March 10, 2010

Filed under: Attitude,Blogging,Future planning,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:07 am
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Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a past career, I was an employment counsellor. I would meet with people who were unemployed and looking for work, and help them to spruce up their resume, apply for jobs, or refer them to programs that could help them find work.

I remember one client particularly. She was in the film industry, so we saw her every few months. She had a computer and internet connection at home, so there was really no reason for her to come in and use our resource centre. But yet, like clockwork, every few months, she’d show up at our door, and be looking for work.

Many years ago, I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Now, Frankl was a Jewish psychologist in pre-Nazi Austria, Vienna to be exact. In 1942, he, like many other Jews, was sent to a concentration camp, along with his wife and parents. By all reports, I can’t imagine a more horrifying or black place to be. And yet, he talks in his book about getting up every morning and shaving himself with a piece of glass. This symbolic gesture of getting ready for the day was psychological preparation, and it worked. Frankl survived the concentration camp–the rest of his family did not.

I know that looking for a job or writing a blog is not nearly the same kind of life-or-death stakes that Frankl faced every day in that camp. But the principle remains the same: the people that got up every day, put on some decent clothes, and showed up at my work every day at 9:30 had a much higher chance of getting a job than those that rolled in at 1 pm in crumpled jeans after sleeping in until noon.

Writing a blog works on the same principle: if you commit to a schedule and stick to it, I promise you will see results. Will every post you write be a gold-medal winner (sorry, the Olympics are kinda dominating things in Vancouver, right now!)? Nope, certainly not. But by writing sheer quantity, you are bound to create some posts of quality. And the more you do it, the better you get…

This image was originally posted to Flickr by chokola at http://flickr.com/photos/22671579@N00/1229450683

And then, sometime around the three-week mark, something magical happens. It stops being more of a chore, and just becomes another thing that you do in your day. It incorporates itself into your life.

So grab yourself a calendar, decide how many posts you want to do per week, and then schedule them on your calendar. Go so far as to write what the topic of each of those posts will be. Set an alarm if you need to. Then write.

Just showing up will give you results–I guarantee it.

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Vancouver 2050: A Creative City February 26, 2010

Ah, I love social media. The networking opportunities are endless.

I was recently introduced to Sean Bickerton via Susan Weiss, neither of whom I have met in person, but am friends with through Facebook and Twitter.

Sean Bickerton is planning a very cool and interesting forum called Vancouver 2050: A Creative City. It takes place from 8:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday, April 24. As we move forward, post-Olympics and in the face of devastating arts cuts, we may well be asking, what’s next??

From Sean’s blog:

I’m pleased to announce Vancouver 2050: A Creative City! – a public Arts & Culture Forum moderated by Max Wyman and featuring addresses by Maestro Bramwell Tovey, Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, and Norman Armour, Artistic Director of the PUSH Festival, with one additional speaker remaining to be confirmed.

Our three distinguished arts leaders will each present their vision of what Vancouver as a Creative Capital would look like in 2050, with a view to infrastructure, sustainability and the kind of innovation and enrichment of activities that could energize broader community engagement.

After those presentations, a high-level panel drawn from the arts, business and social profit sectors will discuss with the speakers the concepts they’ve presented, and then open the discussion up to include invited arts, business & community leaders and members of the public.

Our goal with this discussion is to bring leaders from the arts and business communities together in order to fully imagine Vancouver as a 21st-century Creative City with a correspondingly vibrant creative economy.

Click here to read the full post, and to contact Sean.

The forum is free. I hope to see you there!

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What are your goals for 2010? January 4, 2010

Filed under: Future planning,Success — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:36 am
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Last year, I decided to to try something. I wrote a list of business, life, and financial goals for 2009, and posted it up over my desk. That’s about all I did with it. I didn’t break the goals down into manageable tasks (which, if I was serious, I probably should have done). I just wrote them and stuck them up. One of my goals was to replace my aging and increasingly black-hole-of-money car. One was to take a major trip, a European vacation. Well, I went to Greece in August, and now drive a very cute ’98 Volkswagen Golf. I also set a financial goal for my business, and I am happy to say that I met it–only just–but I did.

Yep, that's me at the Parthenon

I’m not a big believer in the Law of Attraction. I think a lot of people use the Law of Attraction as a crutch to not do any work. They believe that if they focus on what they want enough, it will magically come to them. I believe that nothing replaces goal-setting and hard work.

Yet, perhaps there is something to this Law of Attraction stuff. By simply having my goals written up and sitting in front of my nose, they were on my radar, so to speak–always within my consciousness. And perhaps, because they were in the front of my mind, it made me work towards them, consciously, or unconsciously.

So, I’m trying it again. I don’t have a lot of overly-ambitious goals for 2010–I feel like I accomplished quite a bit in 2009, and am content to maintain the status quo for a bit. But who knows…. ?

How about you? Do you believe in the Law of Attraction? Do you write out your goals for the year? And if so, do you do it in such a way that is specific (with a plan), or more general? I’d love to hear about your experience.

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Wanderlust August 21, 2009

Filed under: Business of Arts,Future planning — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:46 am
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My parents were gypsies.

Okay, that’s not technically true, but it’s something I joke about all the time. You see, I’m the youngest (by far) of five kids. And DSC00565by the time my older siblings were old enough to have jobs and be in high school and cook thier own Kraft Dinner, I was all of 9. So my itchy-to-travel parents had to take me along. Pretty much any time there was a break in school, Christmas, summer vacation, we were gone. I had seen the entire country twice before I even hit double-didgets.

To this day, I have a very strong wanderlust. Some days I just want to get in my car and drive. Being on the highway gives me a thrill. Going on a ferry makes me happy. I just got back from two weeks in Greece, and I have taken plenty of solo camping trips.

Traveling is expensive, and we didn’t have tons of money. Not to mention taking time off of work means no income coming in. But we always figured it out. It was a priority. So, while every scrap of clothing I wore for my entire first 12 years came in the form of a hand-me-down from my cousins or my next-door neighbour, I got so spend Christmas in California.

This gets me to thinking about the theatre. If I take my son to the theatre, just as a matter-of-fact, as “normal,” will he grow up to crave the theatre in the same way that I crave the highway? Our community often worries about the audience of the future–where will they come from? Is this the answer?

I get that theatre, especially big-ticket shows, are expensive, and buying tickets for a family of four is daunting. Perhaps some of us can implement (or already have) family passes, where they give a discount for a small family group. If we want to build an audience for the future, we have to be part of the solution.

I also get that, to some degree, the stuff that we are producing (particularly in indie theatre) might not be appropriate for younger audiences. But I also think that we might under-estimate what our kids can handle, or what might or might not be appropriate.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you involved with a theatre company that is trying to reach out to a younger audience? How are you making that work?

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