Zoomed Out? Virtual Content is Underlining Our Challenge
You have undoubtedly been invited to countless ZOOM events, IG Live presentations and Facebook Watch parties over the past few months. Creatives and arts institutions all over the world are finding new forms of expression, desperately trying to get it out as quickly as possible. Undoubtedly you’ve tuned in to a few of them to make sure your presence was known only to move your phone or computer to the side while you continue on with your fourth time through Knocked Up.
This is highlighting a very real challenge that we face in the immediate moment and in moments to come — separating ourselves from the herd.
We are all hyper aware of how saturated our specific markets are so we are asked to hold our feet to the fire in terms of relevance and quality.
Is my work relevant to the given moment?
I’ve been more mindful of this as of late given the pandemic. We’ve always discussed the idea of relevancy in terms of keeping up with your industry but now we’re seeing the need for art to reflect not only the conversation of the day but the medium as well. More than ever, we’re being held up to the standards of all the available streaming content out there. We can watch well produced, high quality concerts, movies and masterclasses from the comfort of our homes so why would I risk losing 2+ hours to a zoom presentation of King Lear that I am expecting to be so-so? (And that’s my favorite Shakespeare!)
“Why should I care about relevance?” you may ask, “I just want to keep reading plays with friends, invite some people, and you know…just do my thing”. That’s perfectly fine, and there is a place for that especially if the goal is social connection, but have realistic expectations and do not expect to actually grow your business. Now is a unique moment to figure out how your art and your brand can add and serve the larger zeitgeist, how you can use these unique limitations to create something organic and truly new. Relevancy isn’t about trying to be “hot” or following the pack, it’s about pushing your art and industry forward and figuring out how you can serve the market with your unique talent.
Is my work good enough to stand out?
When I used to run my own theatre company. I always fought to have some verbiage around the quality of the work we were doing as part of our mission statement and often got pushback from some of my board. There was a sense that that was a subjective goal and also a bit presumptuous. Well, look…I’m here to tell you it isn’t. This is especially true when we’re hoping to make a sustainable living from our work. It isn’t just about us. It’s about the work’s credibility and viability. And you have a sense of what good work really is otherwise you probably wouldn’t be part of your respective field in any sort of meaningful way. Point being…bring your A game.
As you continue to generate virtual content in the present moment and myriad forms of content in the future, is it relevant and is it good? These guiding questions may help you overcome the challenge of having your voice heard amongst the massive choir already assembled.