By Fanny Garcia
The last year has been a very introspective time for me. I’ve had to redefine my priorities as an artist and I’ve made several choices that I hope will put me on the path that I need to be to accomplish my goal. Since finding out that the TCG National Conference was going to take place in Los Angeles, I knew that I had to do every thing I could to make sure that I was present at every event. And just as I suspected, it’s where I need to be right now.
Today, was the first day of activities for the conference. The recipients of the Young Leaders of Color Scholarship met for a pre-conference orientation facilitated by Emilia Cachapero, the Director of Artistic Programming at TCG.
She guided us on a discussion about our current roles and responsibilities as artists of color and asked questions about the meaning of leadership. Most of the group agreed that leadership is most often perseverance. No matter how much you feel unappreciated, no matter how scarce the funding is, or how hard it is to get your work produced…we must always continue to create.
The orientation also provided a workshop conducted by Paul Robinson of the Shannon Institute. He guided us through a series of exercises to help us identify our individual core values. I jotted down several catch phrases and concepts that really resonated. Here are a few of them:
1.) You must continue to question the status quo. The answers will give way to new models of creating. New forms will arise.
2.) How can I be an agent of change?
3.) You will have to work twice as hard to get half as far.
4.) Your core values must be in a vocabulary that you can process and practice.
5.) Our core values become true when they are challenged and you are able to defend them publicly.
6.) In order to find our core values as artists, we must spend time with ourselves and discover who we truly are. If we don’t, we could end up living someone else’s agenda.
7.) Core values are principles or standards upon which we make decisions.
8.) A value is what you DO, not what you SAY.
9.) It’s important to be artists who are not ashamed about being wealth conscious or identifying wealth building as important and putting monetary worth to our talents. Being an artists and having money should not be in conflict.
10.) We should always be on a path to self-knowledge.
I’ve worked in non-profit for ten years and attending conferences is an intrinsic part of the job. I know what it’s like to attend workshop after workshop and sit in plenary sessions. But I had never been to one that was in the context of creating and sustaining a career in theater. I was so enthralled by the conversation that sometimes it was hard to articulate what I wanted to say. I just wanted to listen and be amazed.
I was blown away by the diversity that existed in all our paths. Most of the young leaders present had done virtually every position in theater! Almost all of us have worn different hats in order to create work but we have rarely stopped to discuss what our individual goals were until we were burnt out on executing someone else’s agenda. We accepted that this can be very frustrating but most agreed that the experience gained while serving in these different capacities was priceless and provided an incubation period of sorts for our individual talents. Once we were able to identify where it was that we wanted to make an impact, we did it quickly and effectively because we had so much knowledge.
I met some fantastic people today, talented and committed individuals who are creating work now and definitely looking to mentor the next generation of artists. We want to be of service to others in the field in any way that we can. However, the conversation is definitely moving into sustainability. We must be equally engaged in supporting and making art AND make sure that we also focus on building wealth. Doing so will allow us more options and provide the resources necessary to mentor and support other artists.