Archive for April, 2017

ImaginAerial Presents: Blue Cirque

April 26, 2017 Comments Off on ImaginAerial Presents: Blue Cirque Uncategorized

 

ImaginAerial in dreamy shades of blue!

  • Beautiful cirque-style costumes in a variety of blues to suit your theme!
  • Aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, stilt walkers, and all manner of cirque-style artists bring elegance and surprise to your event.

 

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But are You a REAL Artist?

A friend and I have recently been having some pretty provocative conversations about the nature of art, and we touched on the subject of “who gets to call themselves an artist”. What makes a real artist? Can anyone just jump on the bandwagon and assume the moniker? Do you need to have some measure of success? Does it have to be good art? What about entertainment? Let’s just say she and I have polished off more than one bottle of wine on this topic (I find I do my best debating on glass number 3). Who gets to call themselves a real artist?

Real Artist Qualifications

Do you make art? Does it hold a place of primary importance in your life? Does not making art send you into a maelstrom of misery and depression? Congratulations – you’re an artist. Notice that I didn’t say you were a “successful” artist or a “good” artist – that’s another blog post (and yardstick) entirely.

Does someone occasionally pay you for your art? This is where the wicket gets a bit sticky for some of you, right? Can I call myself a plumber if no one ever pays me to plunge their potty? Can I call myself a teacher if I’m never in front of a classroom? This assumes that the designation “artist” refers solely to profession, not identity (“if nobody ever pays for my art, I am not an artist”). I feel it can be either or both – that the term Artist need not be tied to commerce or profession. If you spend the majority of your life thinking about/making/purchasing supplies for art, I think you get to call yourself an artist if you want to. Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime, just saying….

Disagree? Here – pass the cabernet.

You Cannot Have a Day Job and Call Yourself a Real Artist

Friend, we live in ‘Murica – how are you an artist WITHOUT a day job? We live in a country that, for the most part, doesn’t value art or artists in any meaningful way. We can go through many a bottle about whose fault that is (“the artists are too weird or not weird enough”), whether it’s OK (“art isn’t essential”), or how to fix it (“don’t bother”), but the fact remains that the USA does not fund art in the way that say Canada does, or France. What does this mean? Most artists will not work in their chosen field consistently. This often means getting a day job (Maya Angelou was a streetcar conductor, a shake dancer, paint stripper, restaurant cook, and teacher, among other things), or working “broadly” in your field (see below).

You might have a day job, a night job, and an in-between job, but that doesn’t mean you’re not an artist.

Broaden That Definition

Being an artist doesn’t look like one specific thing. We all have the way we’d prefer it to look – performing all the time, commissioned paintings out the wazoo, your choreography work booked solid for the next five years, etc., but reality requires a broader take. Some artists choose to make a living totally outside their art – completely fine. Many of us prefer to work close to what we love best; consequently, the life of a working artist may include teaching, lecturing, designing, consulting, performing, costume making, makeup design, etc. Some choose to branch out into closely related fields – oodles of circus artists and dancers work in fitness, for example, or nutrition. Does it make them less serious artists? Maybe, if you’re a hoity elitist trust fund baby who’s never had to make rent in NYC.

As a society, we’ve bought into this ludicrous idea that being an artist – good, bad, or ugly – means that you’re making a living with your art, and that you’re well-known during your lifetime. If you’re suffering from this delusion, I urge you to run – don’t walk – to your nearest bookstore and start reading about the lives of famous artists throughout history. It’s a delicious reality check, and one that’s much needed, methinks. Dare to imagine, Laura

Betta Have My Money! Don’t Make Performers Chase You for a Paycheck

April 18, 2017 Comments Off on Betta Have My Money! Don’t Make Performers Chase You for a Paycheck Uncategorized

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve been there: the work is done, but that paycheck is gone with the wind. When you get radio silence or the runaround from the person who hired you, it can be a whirlwind of stress, anxiety and anger. As a performer, you have a number of options to pursue, but that’s next week’s post. This week? I want to talk to the folks who hire the performers, because if people are consistently waiting on you for a paycheck, that’s a problem.

You Have a Responsibility

I’ve only not been paid for my work one time – New Years Eve 2009 when I worked for Cirque USA (if you’re reading this, it’s never too late to do the right thing…). After chasing the paycheck for a long while, I eventually chalked it up to a lesson learned. But ugh – what a lesson.

When we hire artists, we feel the responsibility of the commitment that’s made – you perform at our event, we pay you for that performance. It’s not your problem whether or not WE get paid by the client, that’s on us. It’s not your problem if the house doesn’t sell enough seats. It’s not your problem if the company went nuts on hookers and blow and spent your paycheck. You worked? You should get that money. Period. Can’t take that on? You’re not ready to hire anyone.

Disposable Artist Syndrome

We see this ALL the time – venues who regularly hire talent, then make them chase that check. They often suffer from what I like to call Disposable Artist Syndrome – they’re banking on the fact that there are so many artists eager to perform, what does it matter if they piss some off? There’s always another one to take their place. Ew.

Artists are people, not tissues. That’s really all I have to say about that. Don’t be surprised if you start to find it tough to get (and keep) good talent.

Just to Be Clear

It’s so important to be clear about pay – how much you will pay, how it will be paid, and the time frame. If you know it’s going to be 90 days before you can pay, say so at the time of booking. Did you agree to pay sooner? You betta do it. If something insane happens and you cannot pay on time, transparency is key. Be honest about what happened, and how you will make it right.

Not in the habit of giving a timeline for payment? Enjoy the drama. Performers start getting really antsy when they start having to ask about their check, and thus begins the downward spiral. A lot of potentially great producer/performer relationships get needlessly ruined that way – sad.

 

Over 70% of freelancers will report not being paid at some point for work they’ve done. This is not OK. If you are an artist hiring artists, your responsibility is even greater – these are your people, for heavens sake! Money is already a subject fraught with feeeeeeeelings and tension and baggage – don’t be shady. Don’t pull a Donald. Be excellent to each other. Dare to imagine, Laura