A report from D&D in 2012 – reread in 2021. I remember being very nervous when I called this session and posted it. Now looking back. I’m glad I did. Not enough has changed but the evidence of the best of what’s mentioned here is what is carrying arts and culture through right now. Our collective voices.
See the event details devoted and disgruntled
The full title of this is Green Ey’d monster – does your professional jealousy make you want to kill yourself or kill the other guy?
I first heard this phrase used in an evening of spoken word performed at the Albany by (just going to look up her name – back in a sec) sorry couldn’t find the artist’s name. She is a mental health counsellor and a mental health service user as well as a comedian. In the middle of her brilliant set, she asked:
“Does anyone here have jealous paranoia?”
“Yes” came the cry from a few voices
“Does it make you want to kill yourself , or kill other people?”
I really am not making light of a serious condition which eats up the energies creative or otherwise of many people, but in the context of an evening about competition vs collaboration, (these are not mutually exclusive events), where all the spaces opened are named after prizes and awards…. I wanted to know if anyone else ever falls prey to the Green Ey’d Monster and how much they let it slow them down. I hoped people would be honest and feared they would think I was only paranoid.
At the same time the question “What does success mean to you?” was being discussed. I was tempted just to go and join that group but since I had asked the question, I thought I’d better do a bit of work on it anyway.
Thanks to Catherine, Lee, Matt, Jo, Flo and other fauna …
A perspective from Wales: it’s a much smaller community of artists compared with in “the London”, with a culture of collaboration & helping each other with funding applications, a much more direct link to the funders and more open relationship with them. Or it has been so far.
The question is, does the new generation coming forward in Wales perceive that or do they see a club that they can’t or don’t know how to join? What can established Welsh artists do to continue to open the network and not retrench now that times are getting tougher? Currently Welsh arts officers and senior people attend events all over, at all points of the week including Saturday workshops. (Let’s not assume English RMs don’t want to, maybe they just want to engage with arts activities at weekends, but some can’t right now & there are too may events to attend).
I remember a similar atmosphere of closedness in the 90s when I tried to join arts circles, and then a more open and inclusive culture in 2000s. What will we as the beneficiaries of that decade do to keep the field open to the new & emerging artists coming through now?
As a mid-career artist, I saw the room last night as a vision of the future. Mostly younger artists finding their way, meeting each other, having conversations. Reason to celebrate or be worried about my own place…? The spirit was optimistic, the mood co-operative.
A view was expressed that as soon as a group forms or network of support however informal, there will be people who feel or are on the outside… It’s the nature of groups forming. Once people are established, can we remain mindful of how hard the first steps can be and encourage people to find, identify or form their own groups as well as joining ours?
Before the sessions, I’d been in a conversation (whenever it starts is the right time) about visibility. You can be happy doing your thing and doing it brilliantly and then encounter someone doing something quite well, very publicly. Does this invalidate what you’ve done? Where does that sense of competition come from? Sadly, I think it kicks in at certain schools and universities
We talked about how jealousy of other people’s success or their opportunities can wear you down, or can be a spur to do better. I think I genuinely felt grown up when I came away from a show feeling that “as a result of watching that overhyped nonsense, I must just do much much better”.
The jealousy of other people’s money was a theme in our discussion.
We accepted that jealousy is a voice in the competition vs collaboration discussion. Acknowledge what triggers yours and avoid getting stuck in it. Use it to drive you forward.
People like good ideas: arrive with a solution, rather than expecting money or a big break…here is a project I really want to do, how can you help me…. ?
One company is helping another company into a producing house. They think the success will be good for everyone (unless they nick the relationship. A flicker of doubt was quickly dispelled).
In Wales, people are used to wearing lots of hats to get the job done and so are able to share and collaborate, because they get each other’s work. There are a few people, the figures who provide the glue and make connections. In London it can be harder to find that support network, the success stories draw all the focus.
Funding: The talk in the current funding round of taking back core funding from the big institutions to make then hustle for cash like the rest of us…. (stop me if you’ve had that one before)
Personal wealth -We talked about how having to meet your bills and taking jobs to do that. sometimes these jobs are in the service of other artists in your generation who can afford to direct unpaid or fund shows.this can be very galling….
The social inequalities in theatre which means the road is harder and longer for some of us. What can we learn about the job whilst working on our craft in the shadows…. ?
How can we use this time to learn, make connections have ideas.
Networks: A lot of people hate the very idea of networking and often because they only see the naked ambition of other people who are good at it. I was lucky to gatecrash a workshop on this at the Almeida hosted by ITC some years ago, and some very simple tips completely changed the effectiveness of my networking and my attitude to it.
Networking or rather, making connections in the hope of getting new ideas and new resources is part of general human activity. Networking to see what you can get is often missing the point. Offer something to the conversation. A suggestion, a link. A good news story about a show you’ve just seen. Anything that makes the network stronger.
Are you at a party or a networking event? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. If you are networking, don’t drink. If you are networking and meet a friend who’s partying, tell them and arrange to catch up later… Or abort mission and party.
If the person you are talking to keeps looking away, let them go… If it’s press night, it’s a party! (Usually)
If speaking to strangers worries you, aim to meet three new people, and then relax with the people you know…. Or go to the pub…. Use your two feet…..
Networking gets easier with practice, and it is part of the job, a skill which can be learned like most others, and networking doesn’t have to mean selling your soul to get ahead.
Thanks to everyone.