I’m just on the other side of two days of an intellectually dense creative summit, filled with connectivity, people I hadn’t seen for years and mind expanding concepts and projects.
It’s the kind of event many artists I know would rather stab themselves in the face with a fork for four hours than attend.
Just the mention of the words ‘post talks networking cocktail hour’ fill them them with the desire to stay at home in their flannelettes and cry.
‘But it’s such a great opportunity to catch up with people in a short space of time’ I wail at them. At this point I usually get the semblance of a side eye. Maybe a glimmer of recognition as they read the list of attendees and remember how much they’d like to see someone, or bring to life in physical form a project they’d only seen on social media.
It’s not to say that the hard sell and brutal rough and tumble of events like performing arts markets can’t be exhausting, overwhelming and have ironically so little to have with arts and ideas. Sometimes I want to run away and cry in my flannelettes too.
I’m glad to say that the past two days held only small pockets of show and tell, hard pitches and by the large part there was genuine exchange, transparency and the opportunity to discuss, debate and congratulate.
Artists should try and make themselves go to at least one of those events each year. The creative, imaginative contributors, active listeners and art makers should be in the room in force.
Here’s a bit of a list of tips to help slide you into the mood.
1. Pair yourself with an extrovert who likes you. Not one of those abnoxious sorts that just talks over you, but one of those people who genuinely loves connecting others.
2. Before you go think about a couple of people you’d really like to see. Reach out out on Facebook and see who else you know is going.
3. Know you can always go for a walk away from everyone or a coffee one on one with a colleague. I was lucky, this last event was at Melbourne Museum and there’s a really rad Indigenous garden there to decompress. Seriously do it. Absolutely no one thinks you are a weirdo.
4. Remember, it’s not wanky to talk about your professional life, especially the things you are most proud of. There could be a young artist or arts worker who is deeply inspired, a colleague who reaches out to collaborate or a new friend who knows just the right producer to work with.
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