Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Same Basket
By Martín Acuña
2020 has been a wild rollercoaster ride, a turbulent one for the Arts industry especially. In my case, a double major has helped me navigate through the pandemic. I recently graduated from a Performing Arts BFA and a Communications BFA in my hometown, Bogotá (Colombia). It took me seven years to get the two diplomas and to this day I know by heart that it was the best decision I’ve ever taken.
I was probably 16 years old when I realized I wanted to work in the arts. I performed in my first musical when I was in high school and since then embarked on this journey of being an artist.
Since the moment I told my dad that I wanted to be an actor, I had his full support and he always told me to have a back-up plan. A part of me hated when he said that and a part of him knew that everything could fail. Did he predict that someday the arts were going to be at a standstill?
Today, without a doubt, I’m grateful for taking his advice for a back-up plan and getting a double major.
I started the Communications BFA knowing that I wanted a concentration in film production and a year later I started the Performing Arts. Musical theatre is the love of my life and what I want to do for a living, though communications is what holds my time: it challenges me to learn something new every day and fills my pockets.
During my college courses I always tried to mix what I liked about communications with the arts. Doing so opened my mind and made me see other features of the artistic work. Both occupations have the same objective: telling stories. Each does it in their own way; through journalism or documentaries, dance or acting, in the end they do the same. Combining them was somehow easy for me and I learned that one can’t live without the other.
My brain started seeing that besides the acting and dance I had to take into account a communications campaign for the project I was working on.
I noticed how Broadway musicals did it. A clear example of this is Ashlee Latimer, Tony Award winner for Once On This Island, when she managed the twitter account for The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. With this show’s team, Ashlee created a whole community of young people that met musical theatre for the first time and went back to read the books written by Rick Riordan. Thanks to her work on social media I followed The Lightning Thief and some performers like Chris McCarrell, Sam Leicht and Kristin Stokes became new idols for me; my aunt and uncle even saw the show when they were visiting the Big Apple because of me. The same thing happened with Jagged Little Pill. It was through social media that I met this musical and from Colombia I started following its trail since before the opening night in December 2019.
The enhancement was vice versa too: from the arts to communications. While my communication peers did the production tasks, I was entrusted with character creation with a skill they didn’t had: I know how an actor thinks. This way, the actors, the team and I could create our project in a more holistic and successful way.
Being far from an industry that ignites my soul with passion has made me understand the powerful and intrinsically relationship between the arts and communications. As artists we have to develop marketing skills to create our resumés and our artist statements. As communicators we cannot lose sight of the artistic nature of our work.
This is what the communications teams behind these show’s social media accounts do: they have the perfect balance between art and marketing. They tell us the story slowly, fill us with expectations and finally make someone take an unplanned flight to see the show. That was my case. On January this year I took a flight from Bogotá exclusively to see Jagged Little Pill live from the Broadhurst Theatre in the heart of New York’s theatre district.
When I got back to Colombia, I started working with the communications team at a local streaming platform. I wanted to apply the same social media strategy as these shows: to create a strong community of people that felt identified with the content we had. Now that I’m not working at the streaming platform and I’m doing communications for an industry far away from the arts, I’m focusing my knowledge on my own artistic profile as an actor: how to market my personal brand.
It has been long hours going through how I want to sell myself to the world, how I want to build my brand and how to communicate as professional as I can on LinkedIn and other social media platforms without losing what makes me unique. It’s a task that is constantly changing in behalf of my changing interest in the industry.
In the end, the only certain thing is that it doesn’t matter the combination of knowledge I have, because everything contributes and complements my artistic profile. With this I understood how important it is to not put all the eggs in a single basket, because I don’t know when that basket is going to crack and break.
Having a back-up plan will always be a good idea, not only because you can stay financially afloat, but because you can find a way to build bridges between both professions.
Today, my dad is grateful I followed his advice and got a back-up plan. Trust me, parents know better than us.
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