I’ve spent the last year studying for an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship through the University of East Anglia. This has been a great opportunity to step outside of my regular realm and delve into the business side of my creative pursuits. I have learned an enormous amount, which I hope to both incorporate into my own practice and share here on this blog and in my teachings.
Out of this has emerged an idea of my own. I came up with this idea and then started Googling it to see if anyone else was thinking about it. Turns out it is not completely original, but even though others have arrived to similar places, I did so independently.
The idea came out of conversation last Christmas with someone I was interviewing for my University Alumni magazine. As a graduate of Montreal’s Concordia University (BFA 1997) I have been interviewing other Concordia grads living and working in London. This has been fascinating. I’m sure I will talk more about them.
Sustainability in business
Chantal Beaudoin was a really inspiring person to meet. She works in the field of sustainability (currently in a sustainability role with LSE) and is passionate about recycling. I found her passion for her subject matter to be very contagious.
After interviewing Chantal I got to thinking about some of the things she talked about sustainability and how she tries to incorporate these principles into her life and encourage others to do the same.
How sustainable is your creative practice?
It made me think about applying the principles of sustainability to our creative practice. The idea is how do we build a creative practice that can be sustained over a lifetime? It seems to me that much of our training as creative artists is driven by short-term success. I know when I trained as an actor the focus was pretty short term: getting an agent, getting your first stage job, getting your first telly job. It was all pretty short-term and was also orientated to a 20 year old’s enthusiasm and capacity to be completely involved in their art form.
The problem is that this kind of approach is not sustainable. I’m turning 40 this year and I don’t have the same energy or ability to be so single-minded anymore. I have other commitments that take time. Other people in my life who need attention which means that acting can’t be my sole focus in the way it was in my 20’s. I’d burn out if I was still trying to approach my acting career the same way now that I did 20 years ago.
20 years into a career
2011 marks 20 years since I got my first professional acting job. Since that time I have worked off and on, but steadily in my chosen profession and in adjunct areas. I’ve done some teaching, some choreography, I’ve taken up writing, and I’ve continued to act in films, television, theatre, concerts, cabaret, recordings, etc. BUT I’VE NEVER BECOME RICH OR FAMOUS. I’ve just worked. And I’ve survived. I’ve sustained a career over 20 years. I hope to sustain that career over another 20-40 years! But I know that this will take different skills than the previous 20 years.
So creative sustainability is about pacing yourself to create over a lifetime. Its about taking a marathon approach rather than a sprint approach. It’s about harnessing your resources to make them last – watching your money so you don’t end up broke, harnessing your energy so you don’t burn out, keeping your creative fires stoked so that you don’t end up suffering from creative blocks or periods of time when your creative efforts are producing nothing.
It doesn’t matter what your artform(s) are. I’m an actor, singer, writer, teacher but these ideas could just as easily apply to painters, sculptors, film-makers, dancers etc. Anyone who is creative and hopes to be creative for the rest of their life.
I’m not saying I have all the answers. But I hope we can explore them together. That we can make discoveries and start to build a picture of how you too can achieve sustainable creativity.
I hope you’ll follow the blog and we can learn together.