Concentrated Cred

An ongoing reservation I have with the makeup of artistic communities is the concentration of credibility we place on a select few.

In my current positions within both indie and professional theatre scenes I see a finite number of people wielding authority over funding decisions and other artists’ creative growth. Folks keep going to the same people again and again for reference letters, mentorship, performance opportunities, etc., because those people are the ones with the ability to effect change. Their high level of professional credibility means that their praise may bring further success, or bigger and better resources to continue creating.

And I get it. With professional growth comes higher level responsibilities, hard work pays off, blah blah blah. But in this process of “emerging” artists repeatedly seeking guidance from a small number of “established” artists, we perpetuate that very limited cycle of support while missing out on the very useful support we can give each other.

Unrestricted, generous validation for each other can be just as valuable as the approval we seek from those perceived as more persuasive. Those “at our level”, so to speak, can offer wisdom and guidance from a similar mucky process that we’re experiencing. Lifting each other up spreads the wealth laterally.

If you’re in a leadership position and people are coming to you for advice, are you providing that support while encouraging them to look into other avenues? Are you dropping the ego and saying “I can help, yes, but so can these people?” Are you widening the growing artist’s network and pointing them to other inspirations?

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