If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it.
If we lose love and self respect for each other, this is how we finally die.
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
So, I mouthed off yesterday about something rather subversive: I’d like to get paid for my craft, my art. I don’t want to get nickle and dimed, and I would like to be paid in a very timely manner, as in once I finish my performance. Not waiting up to six weeks, not two: paid after I get the job done.
Some of you on biweekly or monthly salaries will now chime in about suck it up, etc etc etc. Well, no, I won’t, and we should not have to. Here’s the thing: our work is a product, when presented, no matter how abstract our base might be. When you order something online, you must pay for that item before they will deign to ship it to you. Until you have that object in hand, it is an abstract idea of that product. When you enter a store, you must pay for it to be able to leave the store. If you hire someone to do cleaning for you, or construction, or whatever, you most likely will have to pay something, if not all, upfront.
So, why do Artists (see yesterday) have to be put on hold, or bickered/bartered/haggled down? As a performing artist, I will give you what you asked: entertainment for your audience. You’re not paying me if they show up or not, if they like the performance or not: the pay is to do the act itself. The rest will weigh in if you’d ever hire me again, or not. Or blackball me among your cronies. These things do happen. I’m using ME here, but it’s more universal among artists.
Virginia of Kiss Chronicles wrote in my comments yesterday:
The term “starving artist” doesn’t have to be literal! Perhaps you could also put together a list of tips for artists about how to avoid such problems cropping up? Just a thought I had
So, yes Virginia, I could put together such a list (and I hope others add in on things I might miss/skip over/never thought of). Not sure if there really is a Santa Claus, but here’s MY list, and I will check it twice before hitting the publish button:
- BE PROFESSIONAL IN ALL THINGS YOU DO! (yeah, shouting here).
- Create a contract that YOU send out; don’t always just sign the one from the location hiring you. You must state your “must haves” up front, and it’s a document YOU format. They need to know that you have principles and standards.
- HAVE PRINCIPLES AND STANDARDS! (yeah, shouting again).
- Do not just be on time, be early. Very early. Come in calm, cool and collected. Remain that way.
- Say “Please” and “Thank You”.
- Dress in a professional, clean manner. Save the torn and fou fou arty clothing for elsewhere. Costumes are one thing.
- Leave the Diva and overblown EGO at home, if not exorcise that out of you 100%.
- Follow up on all emails/phone calls.
- Send Thank You notes. Hand written, not emails. Definitely NOT texts.
- Be open to dialogue and conversations. Suggestions are just that. Demands are another thing.
- If you had a bad encounter at a location, remember it and SHUT UP about it. It WILL bite you in the ass, along the way.
- If you have equipment/things to bring to a show, create a checklist and use it. Don’t “forget” something. (go back to #1)
- When creating a hand out/biz card: spend some money and make it look professional.
- Do your research on the location/exhibit/whatever. Knowing some of the background DOES help.
- If you are working with arts standards: KNOW THEM!! (yeah..I know…shouting).
- Cold Calls: do them, but do your homework first: find out who does the hiring, what their title is, and how to pronounce their name and how to spell it properly. Cold call for the info first; call back another time. Make it personal.
As To The Aspect of Working For Respect…
I had THE best experience today visiting a location I’ll be performing at on October 22nd: the Bard Graduate Center at 18 West 86th Street (South Side, closer to Central Park West). The Family Day is entitled “Hold Onto Your Hats!” and is about, yes, Hats. I’ll be performing two sets: 1:30-2:00, and then again at 2:30-3:00.The full family day starts at Noon and goes to 4pm.
What made it the best experience: Tracy Grosner, the Gallery Outreach Educator, and other members of the staff there made me feel not only welcome but SO very welcome. This was a true professional experience in the way they offered of themselves, and I really felt there was a true collaborative creative process in my preparing for my performances. I did not have to ask for anything: they were generous in material, in answering questions, offering beverages, in supporting ideas. Not only did they give me a copy of the $50 book that supports the exhibit, not only did I get another book that I MIGHT perform (still have to read it)…they offered to pay my parking garage fee. Two hours of giving of themselves. Informative and all encompassing.
That is generous and really above the “call of duty.” So…I have already written them (the dreaded email, but I wanted something immediate in this case: after the performance is time for the hand written note) and this is my “love letter” to them, from an artist, who was treated with the utmost respect:
Thank You, Tracy and all at Bard Graduate Center. I so am looking forward to working with you.