Dance or no dance

I’m baffled.

Finally I see – after Bloom Festival last weekend, and a year after I started working for this dance company which is absolutely amazing – that I could never run away from dance, the art. All the efforts of trying to “branch out” and be more “versatile” (“look, I know more than dance!”), I let a part of me decay.

I already work in dance but I still want more of it. I am so excited by my job, I want to bring it into another context, look at it critically and discuss it with others.

They say in the arts, we do it for love. When asked what he does outside of work, Akram says, (apart from spending time with family) he meets up with good friends who are artists themselves and they eventually talk about art, which means work.

Isn’t this the most amazing thing about working in the arts – that it doesn’t haven’t to be arts=work. What about watching an inspiring and beautiful dance performance, connecting with a painting or image hung on the wall, or being challenge by a theatre piece? Aren’t these the very reasons we work in the arts in the first place?

I’m baffled. Am I alone here, being a workaholic?

I am nameless and identity-less

For the first time, I feel that I am part of a big group. I didn’t mean in the sense of “sense of belonging”. I mean a group of people who are categorised by bureaucracy. In this group, I am nameless and identity-less, and most of all, plain dodgy.

In this group, I am under-qualified, even though I studied the same degree for the same amount of time as my fellow course mates. If any difference, it would be that I got a first class degree (by luck?). In this group, it became synonymous the jobs of these degree-holders who now work and fight for this industry are not graduate-level. Maybe because we can only ensure the lives of people are enriched spiritually but we don’t drive any money. Too bad I am a non-EU, I finally see how much art workers are valued.

So, this is how much I am worth by working in the arts. I shall remain nameless and identity-less to the bureaucrats.

Telling too much and being exclusive

“Why do we need a newsletter?!” The producer questioned, “Isn’t Facebook good enough?”

“It is different though, and there are some people who don’t use Facebook.” My colleague commented.

“I have asked on Facebook whether people would prefer Facebook or newsletter to get updates. Response was 50/50.” I added.

“See, the typical thing of letting the audience tell you what to do.” The producer sneered, “I’m not convinced of this trend whereby everyone puts themselves out there. There should be a bit of mystery and sense of exclusivity. But if we want to do it, do it in a classy way.”

The debate: What determines whether we will be elusive and exclusive, or approachable and accessible? The industry we are in, or us, the brand/work/position in the local and global industry?

Most authors teeter ungracefully between craving for publicity and dread of it. Reticence is the soul of art, but there is pressure to state and reveal everything; it’s easy to become a rent-a-quote or a “personality”.  – Hilary Mantel

Time: reserved for art or PR?

Four weeks to World Premiere.

I start to get emails for email interview requests, and plans on getting local and national media to make pieces on the production.

Three weeks to World Premiere.

Email interview answers sent back to journalists. Some original pitches were rejected, more PR plans updated. AD is under pressure, I suppose, as things are not exactly falling in place yet. I am wary to put forward interview requests for him, even those that interrupt his rehearsal schedule. But to my surprise, he said yes to every single one. Extremely grateful.

Two weeks to World Premiere.

I was overwhelmed by phone calls from our PR agency and marketing officer of the theatre. No, filming has to be done this week, not that. OK, let me find out if it is possible to do this in the morning instead of in the evening. Yes, combining these sounds only logical.

Even I found myself annoying. Won’t the AD only wants his time 100% dedicated to his work at this stage? Yet I am still talking to him with various PR requests?

But I am obliged to do it. Ticket sales are not going well. There are plenty of seats left still.

(It was not unlike the infamous “Artistic Director VS Management” problem.)

I wish I knew at which period the creation is fragile, at which period it is still in progress but ready for the world to see. Being closer to the art-making would help, but what sort of intelligence would that take to balance the need of an artist and the need of the company management?

Work emails: what you say

I was tired. I felt that I was overworked. I couldn’t be bothered.  I was very grumpy and only wanted to eat chocolate and junk food to try to cheer myself up.

I tried to work. Replied to an email and instantly regretted.

The email sounded pathetically foul.

Inked in my head was a piece of advice directly for me:

Just try to be careful about seeing it from the recipients point of view. Think about their agenda and expectation and then balance it with ours. You are very efficient which is great but give yourself an extra minute to think about these things before you write.

That morning, I decided to stop writing until I am 100% sure I am writing in the best tone.

It was a good decision.