A Call to Action for Sustainable Artistry

We have all heard it. Some of us even believe it. And even if you don’t, you have to admit that the ‘myth of the starving artist’ is damaging.

During what we call our ‘ecological scan’ of Arts and Culture in Atlanta, we heard time and time again of the cultural sense of low self-esteem intrinsic to being an Atlantan artist. It is a silent assumption that seems to permeate our community. Many of our artists aspire to leave for ‘real’ arts cities such as Boston, Los Angeles or New York City. Some succeed. Brain drain ensues, and the ‘myth of the starving artist’ continues to perpetuate itself throughout our city.

Last month we announced that Kamal Sinclair’s “Entrepreneurship in the Arts”  seminar will be our inaugural professional development offering and earlier this week we invited Tori Tinsley to tell the story about the powerful impact her past participation in this seminar has had in her life.

Since then, the we havn’t been able to stop talking about how stories like this chip away at the ‘myth of the starving artist.’ And since October is ‘Arts Month,’ we’ve decided it’s time for us to do something about this dangerous myth! So here goes:

This is a public call to action!

The C4 Atlanta Action Team wants to start a public dialogue about the lenses through which we Atlanta artists view ourselves in relationship to our city’s cultural identity.

In fact, we would like to see the ‘myth of the starving artist’ done away with entirely! And the best way to start chipping away at myths as domineering and destructive as this one,  is through the telling of new stories that defy rather than give credence to them.

So let’s talk! And let’s tell new stories that will bring the mythos of sustainable artistry to the forefront of our cultural awareness!

Tori’s ‘Entrepreneurship in the Arts’ story has made us realize that right in front of us lies the perfect opportunity to tell these kinds of stories about the artists participating in the ‘Entrepreneurship in the Arts’ seminar.

We need your help in order to make this happen!

Here’s how:

  • We are looking for approximately 10 more artists to join us in this experience. You can help by nominating professional artists and arts managers you think would benefit from participation.
  • Because this is our very first professional development program, there are a number of potentially show stopping startup costs that could keep this seminar from happening. And so we are launching C4 Atlanta’s first major fundraising effort: Help us raise $5000 by October 20th! These funds will help us pay for things like liability insurance as well as invest in infrastructure that will continue to help us in our future professional development offerings.
  • Eleven days is not alot of time to raise $5000. If you are interested in contributing time to help us, shoot me a message! Also consider joining our volunteer mailing list.
  • We’ve met with a number of people interested in multimedia storytelling about the aspirations, successes, and lessons learned of arts entrepreneurs and we think there may be an opportunity for us to bridge some community collaborations. Contact me if you are interested in blogging, filming, and publishing stories about arts entrepreneurship in Atlanta.

Of course, this is just the beginning of a much larger dialogue. From now until the end of October (because it’s Arts Month), we want to invite Atlanta’s artists and arts organizations to join us in exploring, exposing and understanding how the type of thinking ingrained in us by the ‘myth of the starving artist’ impacts our lives:

  • Start publicly talking about ‘myth of the starving artist’ with your friends, fellow artists, family, coworkers, counselors, elected officials, etc.
  • Write blog posts, articles and letters to the editor about Atlanta’s cultural identity as relates to the topics of  ‘the myth of the starving artist’ and arts entrepreneurship. Share them across the web via Facebook, Twitter, email, and all that jazz.
  • Arts organizations: How does ‘the myth of the starving artist’ impact your work and your missions?
  • Fellow Twitterers, let’s use the following hash tags: #atlarts #starvingartistmyth (example)
  • Send us relevant links to articles written and discussions happening locally and across the web so we can share them on Facebook and Twitter! We may even feature and respond to our favorites via this blog!

As we begin engage in this community dialogue, here’s what the next few weeks looks like for C4 Atlanta:

This week we will begin introducing you to Artists who aspire to support themselves through their artistry. We will find out how the ‘myth of the starving artist’ has impacted their lives, and what they hope to gain from participating in ‘Entrepreneurship in the Arts.’ We aim to raise $5000 by October 20th (donate now) so these artists can begin the next phase of their artistic careers on October 23rd.

And again, this is just the beginning. Come November 1st, who knows where all this will have lead us?

I personally hope having this community dialogue leads us to some Action!

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