An open letter to Amanda Palmer…
Recently I read your book, ‘The Art of Asking’. Thanks for that, it was perfect timing.
I think you could also have called the book “The Art of Giving” because the ability to give what you do, with out apology, seems to be intimately linked to the ability to humbly ask and receive support. Or at least that’s how I read what you had to say.
I’m an artist. I am a contemporary dancer, a storyteller, a singer, I make podcasts and write stories and make videos and create live theater… A while ago I decided that renaissance was my style. That provocation and exploration of ideas is what I’m really good at.
Ten years ago I set up a company, Midnightsky, with a goal of self funding my work as an artist. I wanted an alternative to government and philanthropic funding (which I had some success with) because it felt like I was waiting for some faceless panel to approve whether I was an artist or not.
So now I spend part of my week sharing my skills in storytelling with people who do good things in the world, they pay me and in return I get time each week and a small budget to make stuff.
That feels really good. I’m enjoying succeeding at that.
Recently two big things happened.
I started making a new performance work called Fame, Fear and Hope
And I read your book.
Fame, Fear and Hope (which I performed recently, but am currently reworking, you can have a listen here to a section of the show) has helped me to see that I want to take my vocation as an artist and performer seriously. That fulfilling my purpose means making things that help people imagine and create a better version of the world.
And reading your book helped me see that I can’t and don’t do that alone. I realized that calling myself ‘self-funded’ is a misrepresentation of what I have done. I haven’t ‘self-funded’ anything. I’ve built a community of people who get involved because they believe in what I do. Understanding that I make my work for, with and because of the people who support me is a paradigm shift. These kinds of shifts are one of the most difficult things a human can do (even though it seems so simple). Thanks again for writing a book that was the catalyst for that shift.
Along the way I have become reasonably good at running a small company. The most important thing I have learnt about ‘success’ is to find someone who has achieved what you want to achieve and ask them about how they did it.
So, I was wondering if you might have time for a chat?
I’d like to chat about how you have managed to find such clarity in your voice as an artist and how you personally feel about the ongoing relationship (live and online) you have with your audience. If it were ok with you I would aim to make a podcast of our conversation – so that others can benefit from what we uncover.
Now I know your book covers this territory, in great detail. But it just makes me want to ask you more questions.
I would love to offer whatever you think is appropriate in exchange. I live very close to the Thornbury Theatre so if you need somewhere to crash, or some help around your gig next week – just sing out. Catching up while you are in Melbourne would be the bomb – but a skype chat would be great too (I know time is pretty tight on this tour…).
Anyway, thanks a heap for having the audacity to be you. It really is awesome to watch.
If you are happy to have a conversation you can message me on Twitter @Midnightskytalk or email me luke-at-midnightsky-com-au
(If you want to read a bit more about me you could check this out)
Artist, advisor, coach.
I find the real problem, make the difficult easy
and tell a great story.
Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking book cover sitting on Midnightsky’s piano
Check out more stories in the category: Fame, Fear & Hope, In the Village