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Surviving the Doldrums Page 1
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  • Take Classes. One of the joys of being performing artists is that we can continue to grow throughout our working lives. There are always new things for us to learn, new aspects of our crafts to examine, new endeavors to try. Why not try something totally unrelated to your strong suit? After all, at the basic level, creativity is creativity. Very often, attempting something new allows us to gain perspective on our primary art form. Study painting. Attend a writing workshop. Take some dance or acting classes. Learn about photography. Do macrame. (O.K. Maybe not macrame.) Why limit oneself to a narrow focus? Expand! Maybe you'll never use what you learn directly. But the insight you gain will enter your consciousness and, therefore, your work.

  • Read!Read. The public library is a cheap hobby. If you're an actor, perhaps you can find some new monologues to audition with. If you're a musician, maybe you can identify new music to work on. Better still, read something that will expand your horizons, something that isn't directly related to your craft. Because of the demands of performing, it's easy sometimes to become insular. We often limit our input only to those things that are connected somehow to projects we're currently working on. So, when you have downtime, it's a great opportunity to wander down unfamiliar literary avenues.

  • Earn Some Money. Show me a performer who has enough money, and I'll show you ... well ... a star. Or maybe a trust-fund baby. In spite of the perception of glamour that the general public has about performing artists, the vast majority of us live hand-to-mouth (including some "stars"). More often than not, performers scrape by on subsistence wages. So, if you're not working in your chosen craft, why not use some of your downtime to figure out another way to earn a few bucks and maybe even get ahead a little bit? Sometimes taking some time to establish a money-making venture can be the best long-term strategy you can make for your performing career. And accumulating a nest egg may enable you to take on a future project that is artistically near and dear to you that you might otherwise have to turn down. Will it take time? Yes. Will it sometimes make you feel like you're burning the candle at both ends? Yes. Is it worth the effort? Yes.

  • Become a Producer. Instead of sitting around bemoaning the fact that no one will hire you, maybe it's time to find a project that you can become the momentum behind. Start small. But start. Some of the world's most renowned performing arts organizations got started in exactly this way, with underemployed, alienated or disgruntled artists getting fed up and starting their own organization (and, ultimately, seeing their own visions realized). Join together with your fellow artists, determine what your collective artistic vision is, and go for it.

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