Monday, February 6, 2012

“Self-affirming Ignorance” & Other Tools of the Trade

To kick off our Winter-Spring season we held an ERPA open dialogue at Joyce SoHo with artists and presenters to talk about the challenges and best-practices of presenter-artist relationships. What are the do’s and don’ts and what are the needs to be filled? Here are some reflections:

Do your homework!
• Research the venue or presenter you are interested in. Know why you are interested. Know their space. See the work they produce.
• Know what your work/process needs. Know what you need as an artist. Know why that particular venue is right for you.

Stand up for your art!
• Participate in a little “self-affirming ignorance”, says artist James Scruggs. Ask for what you really need (not what you think you can get)—even if it is huge and crazy and you think it is out of the question—pretend you don’t know any better. You might just get what you ask for. And if nothing else, you won’t have devalued your work from the get-go.
• Make your case to presenters in a real, honest, and specific way. Why are they the right fit for you? What is it about that space or that curator that is so right for your piece? As Brian Rogers, theater artist and Artistic Director of the Chocolate Factory, suggested, “make a compelling case for your needs.”
• “Know who you’re making your work for,” says Kristin Marting of HERE. And interact with those people from the seed start of the work’s development and throughout the whole process.

Some useful best-practices:
• “Don’t send blanket emails”, says Cathy Eilers, Program Manager at Joyce SoHo. Make it personal; tailor and personalize your emails and be specific.
• Keep moving to stay visible. Participate in showcases and residencies where you show excerpts of your work. Presenters often attend these as a way to see several artists’ work at once. The more active you are, the more you are seen.
• Ask about ways that presenters can help support your work throughout its development. This makes a space for you to build a stronger relationship with that presenter and gives them a chance to feel invested in their curation.
• Stay in touch with people and don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond. We are all busy and emails often slip through the cracks; keep on keepin’ on!

Thank you to those who attended, to Joyce Soho for generously hosting the event, and to Maura Donohue for her astute facilitation. To learn more about ERPA and other upcoming events click here.

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