Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How not to be sad and bitter in Arts and Culture?

The question right?

I asked this on Facebook recently and got lots of varying responses. From, 'Girl I need to know myself.' to more very poignant attitudes and values to adopt to stay on course.  We won't talk about what led me to ask the question (alyuh doh have all day) but in pondering on it, I have come to a few conclusions.

1. Don't confuse 'the' mission with 'a' strategy.

For instance, you believe in dance and dance culture. You support it whenever you can. But what is it about dance that you really believe in? The fact that it brings people together? The fact that it is a mind/body activity? In this sense dance is the tool not the goal itself. But its easy to lose yourself in HOW your personal mission appears as opposed to WHAT your personal mission is. That also leaves room for change and growth. The things you thought could get you there can change but your mission should be your mission regardless (of the transient circumstances). Which leads me to:

2. Everybody want to get to heaven but nobody want to die (quote from my mother).

Dedication to your mission will take work and sacrifice. You can't skip that part. But if you have clear focus on your vision it should be enjoyable or at least palatable. If you don't, might be time to reevaluate, or evaluate your chosen strategy to get there. Maybe you've diverged so far from your original motivation that it can no longer drive you. BUT...

3. Not all parts of your work will look like the mission.

Some parts of your job will seem extraneous, annoying, unrelated because they don't resemble your passion. You're interested in youth development but here you are doing a certification in entrepreneurship and you hate it. But at some point you said to yourself that those skills will get you to your goal and keep you in the mission-delivery zone. You just have to remember that.


They are busy. We live in New York. Everyone is busy. Everyone is focused on their goals. They said they would support your cause. They haven't. Or not in the way you would like them to? Do your goals depend on them? What's in it for them? Is it that you need them in order to carry out your mission? Is it that you are using your mission as a means of maintaining your relationships? Is there a version of your mission that is not dependent solely on those around you? If so see number 1.

5. Teach people how to support you.

Yea, yea, yea --- but they should know. They don't. But it doesn't mean they don't see or support the work you are doing. Maybe for you its people checking in on you. Maybe you need folks to show up. Maybe you need a listening ear after rehearsal. You might need to let them know that. Don't worry I'm still learning this one.

6. Build re-inspiration into your arts-cycle.

I had to read this book, 'The Gift' for grad school. A lot of this book annoyed me (re. point number 3), but it says, 'If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies...When the gift passes out sight and then returns, we are enlivened.' So we get far a way from the effect our work has on our world until somehow it is brought back to us. Maybe its through people who have seen or felt transformed by it or through the work of someone else. Maybe it is through detaching totally from it for a while. I think the hard part is making room for those activities. Again these don't look like work but they are. 

That's all I have for now. If more comes to me maybe you will see another post.

Yours in Arts and Feelings,

Candace Thompson-Zachery 

Explore all the things I do at:

Disclaimer - These words are my own and are written as a pensive, analytical, artist who is prone to do (too) many things and currently works several day jobs that are partially unrelated to her mission but is lucky to be living the life she is.

Monday, July 23, 2018

What are we really doing with this dance/arts/life thing?

So here we are. My friends have probably heard me say this more than once. I am too self-aware for my own good. Literally. My brain works too fast and every possible avenue immediately brings to mind every possible repercussion. In theory, this is a good thing. I have a knack for analyzing. Breaking things down into categories. And by things I mean EVERYTHING. I find connections between events. I trace lineages. I invert. I retrograde. But all this information that inundates my nogen everyday also leads to paralysis. When you're so self-aware and reflective that you're afraid to try things because of what might happen or what it might implicate. I also say that people who aren't quite so perceptive have a better time at life. What a joy it must be to not think so deeply about everything! But alas, I'll never know what that's like.

So HERE we are. As we speak I just finished my 1st (2 week) intensive of 6, for the Masters of Arts in Curatorial Practice in Performance program. What is that you ask? Well, its the theoretical underbelly of the act of working with artists and their ideas, and presenting live performance. We spend a lot of time with performance theory and history, analysing site-specific projects, looking at relationship building to research to execution,  and teasing out our own curatorial interests. I've gone through extreme emotional shifts: enthusiasm to dejection, inspiration to demotivation, stimulation to saturation.

Here we are. The latest question I have is who can afford curation? It seems like this thing requires a lot of time. A lot of investment. A lot of effort. Those that know me, know that I am not afraid of work. I work best when I can go IN. Immerse myself in a project and come out triumphant. But do I have that luxury? Do we (my community of folks that I believe in and support, more specifically Caribbean Artists and Artists of Color in this hemisphere) have that luxury? Now if the question is do we deserve to be curated? To be engaged on a critical level. To be taken seriously for what we have to offer to society. The answer is YES. Does that happen? NO. Caribbean work most times just gets thrown on stage. Yea did you picture Uncle Carl throwing Jazzy Jeff out of his Bel-Air Mansion? Good. Because that's how it feels when you get a random email from someone who's barely heard of you asking you to perform somewhere for an honorarium or for free with no consideration or research of you or your work or what your work requires to be done well.

We are. Am I guilty of doing this too? Or of expecting it? Yes sure. Because capitalism is a real thing (why are these people sending me five million email for this one 30 mins gig) and when you get used to being mistreated you just come to expect it (hey do you want to schedule a call about this? no because it won't change anything because you won't actually be able to change anything about the context of the engagement) and even perpetuating the paradigm (hey can you do this thing here's all the info in detail [while praying they don't have too many questions cause I'm tired and don't feel like dealing with anymore humans]). But what has become abundantly clear to me now is that I do not wish to participate in gigs where my value is not understood. And that can be two things. Either understood artistically, and you engage with me on a colleague to colleague level understanding and caring for what I bring to the table even if the dollars ain't there OR understood financially: pay me enough to prepare for and execute this project. You cannot disrespect me and not pay me. Choose one.

Are? The thing that I crave the most is to be able to have meaningful conversations about my work. And therefore I built an organisation with a team of awesome folks that would intentionally make space for that. But is it sustainable? Can our networks sustain time and space for critical reflection when we got kids to send to school, parents and siblings to take care of, rent to pay? I'm asking. So maybe this curation thing is like dessert. You have it on your birthday and Christmas and the rest of time you do without. OK. That's all I have time for today. Friends and Well-wishers as you were.

Candace Thompson-Zachery of OverThinkersAnonymous

Explore all the things I do at:

How not to be sad and bitter in Arts and Culture?

The question right? I asked this on Facebook recently and got lots of varying responses. From, 'Girl I need to know myself.' to mo...