We’ve talked about using a sort of “buddy system” before, and some our coaching clients have had discussions about “work clusters” and the power of reciprocity: Working with others, in any artistic climate, can mean an extraordinary difference to not only your output, but to your outlook. The fact is, working with colleagues in a productive, mutually beneficial way can dramatically expand your reach and change your future prospects. And as the COVID-19 pandemic changes our arts environment constantly and for some time to come, there has never been a better time to band together and find new ways through what is bound to be a challenging time to come.
Aside from the other changes and struggles that artists and organizations face right now, it really comes down to time management: there’s only so much any of us can do in a day, so dividing up the work just makes sense, and overlapping your spheres of influence can produce outreach magic. While most of the arts world is talking about downtime and financial survival, those issues are certainly at the forefront. But now and for likely the next two years, the illusion of loads of time will prove to be only that, and it will be very easy to fritter away the months that could help innovation thrive and transform our artistic future.
While elements of competition are, of course, an inherent part of any arts and entertainment field, there is still plenty of room for cooperation and collaborative marketing. The bonus is the astonishing potential for mutual benefit. In addition to the simple truth that “two heads are better than one”, there is a symbiotic energy that comes with collaboration, and that is the sort of force that will propel surviving artists and organizations into the future post-pandemic, whatever that new norm may be.
Right now, this post is intended to simply plant a seed. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, it to simply look around, remind yourself that things will change whether you participate or not, and to start keeping an eye out for a survival buddy. Better yet, find yourself someone who you can dream with, concoct with, and really get things done with. It may take a couple of tries to find the right person or people to work with as you figure out what your next steps, and your next steps, and the next ones are. It may even feel like dating a some point or another. Reach out on social media, send notes, make calls, have multiple conversations before you commit to building the relationship that will take you forward. Finding your buddies is as important as finding your gurus. And believe it or not, your future as an artist (or even an org) may depend on it.