Recently I had the pleasure to speak with a great person and good friend about his future pursuits. His situation is like many young people starting out; in this case, trying to determine his course to pursue his dream as a musician.
As we all know, even the most gifted individuals need a little luck, but more than that, you need great connections and an unbreakable will to achieve your dreams in such a competitive field.
At one point in the conversation he asked whether it would make sense for him to pick up a part-time job outside of his passion to make ends meet. Considering there was only a small hole in his personal budget to fill, my response was to spend all of his time chasing his dream. Perhaps there would be other opportunities to supplement his income through lessons, clinics, composing? He could find other ways to stay on his path without going into another gig that might pay well, but would have little or no direct benefit to where he wants to be in a year, five years or a decade.
Emphatically I said “Stay true to your dream. Where you are is not where you are going to be.”
Which led me to thinking, how is that any different than what we all do?
As with many of us, perhaps maybe even you, trying to break into your area of expertise can be an enormous challenge. Once we are there, we need to continue to learn, rehearse, experiment and fail. But that takes time and sometimes funds are short, especially at nonprofit agencies in the arts.
It takes time to learn the basics and then apply them to your work. This situation is the same for the accomplished dancer as it is for the successful marketist. It takes even more time to rehearse your skills over and over, until you’re comfortable enough that they become second nature… we consider it muscle control for your mind and mouth. Too many times we get side-tracked into what it takes to pay the bills, which takes us away from what we truly want to be.
For many, arts marketing is a learned love. Perhaps you were one of the many who chose to get into the administrative side of the arts after deciding to support and expand the arts rather than create the art itself? That is usually a decision made out of necessity or by realizing the limitations of one’s skills and God-given talents.
This post is not about changing your career trajectory. It is not about inspiring you to dust off the toe shoes or the violin, quitting your day job and moving to New York City (although if you’d like to, godspeed to you). Lord knows the arts need you right where you are!
This article is about committing to your goals and working tirelessly to be the best you can be and great things will happen. But not without your commitment to perfecting your craft and treating your role in marketing as you would if you were a member of a performing ensemble.
Success takes time. It takes commitment. It takes connections. It takes the ability to wake up in the morning and saying to yourself “I’m going to be better today than I was yesterday.” And lastly, in our end of the arts world, it takes the understanding that the success or failure of our organizations will be based on our art: the art of marketing. If you succeed, that my friend, is my dream.