Christy & Susanne connecting this week over $$ mindset and the effects it has on artists. Come join us with no judgment. We are holding space to learn, laugh, and downright pointe at ourselves.
Watch the episode here:
Money & Art | Why performing artists need to step into their earning power.
The need for performing artists to step into their earning power
Changing an industry or changing an organization only happens by changing the individuals. The expectation is that the organization, the industry need to change first before people start their own journey. That is moving responsibility and victimhood. But the thing is that if artists understand their own worth first, despite if your director or organization sees it yet, this is how we are going to turn the ship around.
Stepping into your earning power means understanding that you are worth getting paid. You’re not going into a company with the mindset, “Oh, there’s so little space and companies don’t have money and 2020 has been so struggling. So therefore I’m just going to put my own needs underneath the table and say, ‘I don’t really need any money, and if you have a little bit, that’s okay too.'” That’s not the right energy to put out. That’s not the right everything to create more sustainable arts altogether.
Breaking the tradition
The arts just as within their familiar zone and in their comfort zone and saying, “Well, it is what it is, earning $750 a week living in New York City.” Good luck. It’s like we are inheriting these old traditions and beliefs from generation to generation to generation without questioning them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Nobody sets the rules that these things have to stay the same way. I think that’s where we’re going wrong. This is where we’re so comfortable in keep going the way we’ve been going and expecting it to keep on working.
In Sunday’s New York Times, there was a bigger article about MacKenzie Scott giving $2.7 billion to underfunded companies, and Alvin Ailey was one of them, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and they all received a big injection. I’m talking about $10 million. With these donations, there are no guidelines. She just is the kindest heart. She just gives it all away and says, do what you need to do. So what could they do with it? Like is it that we perpetually inherently just spending the money on our overhead and our monthly and yearly expenses or are we going to use half of it or a third of it to have some compound interest occurring, to invest into other strategies that can build different streams of income, something that will move the business forward as a business, actually, as an organization, as an investment that returns to you where it was needing to go in in three, four years and saying, so we’re out of money. We need more.
That is the only switch that needs to occur and it would change everything, the entire landscape of how we’re doing arts right now, on how we’re perceiving the structure of companies. And then it would also change the way artists would actually be treated and experience their careers.
That will take a group of people to break the perpetual cycle and break away from the example of how to run a company. We just in general, live in a world where we kind of look right and left at everyone regardless. In the arts, each entity, each theater, each company is still looking right and left to see what other people are doing as an example of where they should go. If we could get to a point where we’re willing to work on ourselves and change something in ourselves and unwire some things ourselves because who’s ever running each company, this is decades of that thinking, of this is how you run it. That takes some unlearning. But in doing that, if people are willing to get in their own lane, and regardless of what everyone else is doing, decide to take a path, that’s how that will change. But it only will change if we as dancers, as directors, as artistic directors can own what feels right for us or a direction that might be in our hearts to take this company and do it regardless of if anybody else is doing it that way. That takes strength.
The power of investing
It is so imperative to understand that just because it has been done this way for so many decades doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. And if 2020 has shown us anything, is that it is truly in our hands to change things up and look at the existence from different perspectives. Why we’re saying or why performing artists need to step into that earning power more is to understand your own worth, understanding that you have spent not only your time in learning all of the things that you are able to perform, your skillset is worth something. And you also invested a lot of money in acquiring these skillsets. With that, not only are you an expert, not only have you put in your 10,000 hours, but you also need to expect of yourself that you’re not just doing it to give it away, but you’re also doing it to receive a return on investment. That part is always left out in training and companies and expectations everywhere in the arts. I’m not saying that just coming from a place of giving is the wrong approach, but what is not the right approach and that’s cutting us off from our own earning potential is not seeing our worth. It’s not seeing that the arts actually have a place in the world and are worth earning as well.
That’s why every single person that is an artist and has the courage and the guts to step into their earning potential by starting a side hustle and asking how it can be done. This whole saving money mentality is the language of the past. Every person that is influential and has acquired some wealth is an investor and not a saver because saving really makes the bank money. Investing your money makes lots and lots of babies and that’s what you really want. That’s how you are becoming wealthy. You stepping into your own earning power not only gives other people the permission to do so, but you also have the choice and the availability and capability to help others through giving it away. If you think having money is a bad thing, well, you know what, give it away. Give it away to people who need it, who want to start a business, starving artists, or the company who can’t really see their way out yet and they may have to close. Give it away because then you coming from a place of service.
If you’re not willing to do that, then maybe you also would like to have money and that’s not a bad thing. It’s this full circle where we’re just denying ourselves that having money is bad and I’m an artist. I shouldn’t have money. We talked about all of these gauges and ceilings and, we’re coming back to it every single time. It is the stories that we heard. It’s the stories and beliefs that were injected to us, into our veins for, I don’t know how many years, and you’ve taken them on as your belief and the messages are really clear, you don’t have to. Write your own stories.
It’s our responsibility to find our own strength to break these cycles or break this follow-the-crowd programming that we all have because we all want to fit in because we all want to be loved. It all comes back down to that. That’s why everybody just follows and does what other people do because it feels better to just fit in than to be different and misunderstood. But what are you missing out on by just following and doing what everybody else does? What is tugging here that you’re not going for because it’s going to ask you to step outside of this flow of where everyone else is going. It starts there. That’s in our personal lives, but then if we are in an artistic director or company owner position, then that’s where the shift happens.
Every company’s had to adjust and pivot since they’ve opened or they aren’t anymore if they’re a company of a decade or more. They’ve made adjustments. They have not stayed the same. They have not been the same company for 10 years. Those that don’t just pedal out. So it really is up to us to always be adjusting and pivoting and going with what’s in here, not with just what we see as examples. If we wait for other people to do stuff, we’re really missing out.
Don’t wait for other people to start. If you need any kind of leadership or people that help you do that, go find them. They’re everywhere. Reach out to us. We can definitely point you in the right direction. We’re not stepping into our earning power because not only are we scared of failure and who am I to, actually be scared of success versus failure, quite honestly, but we’re also don’t know how to lead ourselves yet. If you fall out of bed and go into the studio and keep repeating your day over and over again without assessing how you’re feeling and understanding that you have a choice how to feel and how you want to feel, then this is where it starts. You have a choice to feel happy. Your body doesn’t have to be miserable all the time. If it does, it’s actually an alarm signal. It’s like the red light blinking and saying, so, excuse me, we got to change something. We are capable as human beings to shut all of this out and keep going and keep going and keep going. And then 10 years down the road, everything is going to fall down like a building that has not been taken care of.
That’s where it starts. You need to lead yourself first. You need to know what that means. Leading yourself, leading a life by design and not somebody else’s expectations.
It’s a really easy one to get into as a dancer because you’re told what to do, like all the time. So you just naturally just want to keep being told what to do.
So much ❤ Susanne
About Christy Little
Former professional dancer turned entrepreneur who is passionate about living in purpose and assisting people to see the greatness inside of them to live their ideal life.