If New York can do it…

So my Portland arts community,  here’s what Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed to make NYC a thriving arts community. How might these ideas play here?

From the wonderful Createquity blog
http://createquity.com/2009/10/new-ideas-for-new-york.html

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No one goes away empty-handed

I love discovering people who live in an inspired way.  Derek Sivers is such a person.  It’s not enough that he is the king of DIY for musicians everywhere, creating CD Baby and other businesses.  He is a messenger of ideas, his own and others’.

I find his blog inspiring not just because I’m a a musician, or because he is so knowledgeable about the music industry.  I like it because it is loaded with hope.  With new thinking that turns the conventional on it’s head and says why not try something else?  This post is a great example.

Emphasize meaning over price = More paid sales

The idea comes from Terry McBride of Nettwerk.  This excerpt gives the very simple gist of it.

If you are a performing musician that sells CDs at your shows, please consider this:

1. Say to the audience, “It’s really important to us that you have our CD.  We worked so hard on it and are so proud of it, that we want you to have it, no matter what.  Pay what you want, but even if you have no money, please take one tonight.”

2. Mention this again before the end of the show, adding, “Please, nobody leave here tonight without getting a copy of our CD.  We’ve shared this great show together so it would mean a lot to us if you’d take one.”

It changes the request from a commerical pitch to an emotional connection.  (Replace market mindset with social mindset!)  Allowing them to get a CD for no money just reinforces that

Besides the audacity of this kind of gesture/business model/community-building approach, I think I like it because it reflects a mission-driven path as opposed to a profit-driven one.  And I think that the mission driven approach brings more long-term (ie; your whole life) security.

It is also exciting because it requires re-examining  the way I think about CD’s-making them and selling them.  As well as re-thinking their role in my career/musical work.  I can’t wait to try it.

What do you think?

And check out Derek’s blog for many more great ideas.


What we leave for our children

In all my furious questioning of how we define sustainability in terms of the arts.  maybe the simplest definition is embodied in the simple question  a  “What do we leave behind for our children?”  My friend who is a therapist and writer shared these thoughts with me the other day:

“I was thinking today about my friend who just put his son on the plane, and another friend whose son is leaving for University of Washington tomorrow, and I started thinking about sustainability through the lens of what we leave behind for our children.  Often people leave money or special possessions.  Traditionally people have left the family farm or some plot of land if they could.  I think it must be comforting to feel like you are leaving your children the means to survive.  We cannot know what will speak to our children’s hearts and souls, but we know they will need to find shelter and eat.  The parent who leaves an inheritance for a child has given a gift with no ties–the child can use money however he wants–but he has also left nothing of himself or the culture.  The parent who leaves the family farm, for example, may be leaving a great deal of himself–decades of sweat and careful decision-making are in that land–but his child may not be able or willing to farm or live on that property.  To be able to shape one’s life work so as to include maximizing one’s own gifts and goals, but to also keep an eye on what one’s child will need and want in the future, seems like a real challenge.  Maybe our mainstream culture is way, way off the mark in leading us to believe that our career choices and lifestyle decisions are all about ourselves.  Maybe loving our children should include making choices about money, land, and other resources that we can pass on to them in ways that they can really use and that carry forward a rich cultural context.  And any rich cultural context includes art.  If we only leave our children cold, hard, cash, where is the love in that?  Where are the values?  Where is the beauty?

What it means to be an artist today

I’ve been thinking  a lot about the role of the artist in the community.  These days I’m especially interested in what it means in terms of this concept of sustainability.  We all know that the old models, especially in my industry (music) are crumbling around us.   Everyone is trying to figure out what the new models will be.  My thought has long been that maybe we should be looking back in time, aiming at cycling back to something older, something pre-dating post-industrial market-capitalism.  Something based in a connection with community.

Tonight I just stumbled on a blog post that speaks to all this, and resonates with the direction I hope to go.  I am sending this out to all my  current and former students, because the thesis is something I believe provides a baseline for the kind of sustainability that we all are seeking.

It is a blog called The Mission Paradox Blog by Adam Thurman.  Here is the post http://www.missionparadox.com/the_mission_paradox_blog/2009/09/savings-souls.html
I hope it provokes your thinking as much as it has mine.