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My Mission: Creating & Sustaining Employment For Artists

Employment For Artists
By Roque Diaz

A few months back, I wrote an article about balance and what this means for two working artists/parents. I wanted to provide an update where life has now taken us. Moving back to the United States has been interesting. Living in Minneapolis, MN for the past year and a half has been fantastic. The arts community is very supportive.

In fact, I have been constantly networking to get my business model dedicated to making the arts a viable career choice. My mission is to provide consistent and sustainable employment to All Artists. Why? Art impacts everyone. It connects people from all walks of life with all forms of art, in unity. Art is a part of our daily life in the simplest of tasks; learning an artform shapes who we are and how we deal with our surroundings. It teaches patience, perseverance, dedication, discipline, self-esteem, love, and creativity and allows us to imagine beyond our limitations.

Firstly, we now live in a spectator society when it was once participatory.

To recognize the evolution of art and the strength it possesses when all art forms unite, and to educate the masses that art is within us all, is to reach the heart of humanity. Second, the lack of diverse role models promoting the arts (especially music education) in public and private institutions/organizations is concerning.

Moreover, the 21st-century artist must reinvent him/herself with the ever-changing society in lieu of securing consistent/sustainable employment.

My gypsy life is what makes me special/different. When I was 21, I performed in a Drum Corps (which is considered a professional marching band) that performed during the summer months, culminating in a world championship in the beginning of August. During the summer of 2001, I was approached by producers of the Tony and Emmy award-winning Broadway show, Blast! This show turned marching band/drum corps into a theatrical production. Not only did I get to perform as a musician, but I became a stage actor. Blast! opened the door to many performance opportunities and community networking.

What I learned was many artists were multi-talented.

I began wondering why there wasn’t a company who could harness all the multi-talented artists and create different avenues of employment. One of my advantages is the massive network of artists I know. I have the creative ability/access to produce high-quality art. Think of the business as an incubator to provide access for artists through the promotion of performances, educational teaching, national/international touring, professional development and community collaboration.

Instead of working a performer’s contract to contract, wouldn’t it be great to have a company that pieces together full-time employment for artists through collaboration and partnerships?

In Minneapolis, I have been able to take a local regional art council grant and provide six musician/educators with a year’s work at a public-school teaching music to un-derserved students. Just in the past few months I have been approached by a nonprofit organization to partner and take this same approach to other schools in the state who lack access to diverse teaching styles. My wife is a part-time performer with a local dance company who provides free childcare during rehearsals for the performers. Who does this? Seriously? Free childcare for the performers. This opens another avenue for artists who would stop their careers to be parents.

I am taking these pieces and crafting a business model that can change the “starving artists” stigma.

If arts organizations and institutions are not going to see the intrinsic benefits of creating/sustaining employment for all artists, then I will complete my mission statement. Does anyone want to join me?

 

Also by Roque Diaz:

Anxiety in Performance

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