Taking care of business

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It’s been quite a while since anyone has asked me if I have any advice for younger artists. Perhaps this is because the people I come into contact with are likely to see me in the context of directing, facilitating or educating a lot of the time. If I was to be asked a direct question about the most effective way to function, I would say it helps to learn how to take care of one’s own administrative needs as much as possible. There are moments when the supplementary support is provided and these can be regarded as an added bonus, but the basics need to be taken care of, and if we don’t develop the muscles to do these ourselves, we find it difficult to function further down the road.

I have seen fellow artists who relied on the skills of agents, administrators and managers at different stages of my journey. It always looked like they were in the privileged position, since they had support and they could focus on doing the work, but if their outputs didn’t yield sufficient profits to keep several people going, they soon found themselves by the wayside, trying to get started all over again.

Obviously there are differences in the working dynamics of these alliances, depending on the art form one is engaged in. The visual artists have done well financially, as have some of the actors. This is due to the relative formality of the businesses they are involved in. Musicians and dancers tend to function in milieus where matters are less structured.

At the heart of the matter is impact that working with administrative support can have on the creative direction of any artist’s journey. Yes, many doors could be opened through gaining access to contacts that the agents might have, but it also means that those artists have to make choices in what they express that might keep their colleagues happy.

Having spent a considerable amount of energy in my time on spats that emerged as a result of creative differences of opinion, I can say wholeheartedly that it works best for me to move at a slower pace of progress, making my own choices along the way.