Yesterday I participated in a Creative Capital Webinar entitled “Artists Raising Kids” by choreographer Andrew Simonet. I must say, when I first signed up for the webinar I was pretty skeptical, especially after reading the description, which said something to the effect of “You can always make more money, but not more time.” What?!?! I don’t even make money! Do you know how under-served the West is sir? Running my company, I work 80 hours a week but get paid for 2. What do you mean more money?
So great, I thought, what is this white male choreographer from the East Coast (Philadelphia) going to teach me about being an artist raising a kid?
Nevertheless, I did the webinar for research for this project fully expecting to eye roll the entire time, but it wasn’t that bad. First off, the presenter acknowledged his male privilege stating, “…pressures of female artists and mothers are more intense and different that male artists,” and that stems from biases in both families and the art world. Can I get an amen? He also stated we “live in a culture that does not support artists well and we live in a culture that does not support parents well.” Again, well said. No acknowledgement of his regional or race/ethnic privilege was made but acknowledging the gender role expectations (grounded in patriarchy) in the arts and in families was a start.
The rest of the seminar he presented some research and personal narrative on how he worked out his artist parent role. This consisted of a lot of interpersonal relationship dynamics between he, his partner, and the other adults that help raise his children. A la “This is how we structure our day” or “this is how we communicate.” Yea, none of those pointers were going to go over real well with my Mexican-born husband and the gender roles and expectations he brings to the table (see, that race/ethnicity component so important).
But one of the things that he did say that stuck with me is that after he had his children, he left his company. He left because he could not balance the demands of the company, which he was co-directing with two other people, (unlike me who runs the whole thing solo!) with his role as a parent. There was not enough time to be an artist, parent, and co-direct a company, so he walked away from the company. That resonated with me. Now that my company is on a restructuring hiatus, I am actually spending quality time with my son on a consistent basis. Without the pressure of being a one woman non-profit arts organization, I have much more of that most precious resource: time. The artist parent thing seems almost do-able now without the burden of the organization and managing other artists. I will be an artist my whole life, but I will only have my son’s childhood for a short while.
The webinar closed out with some links to resources, which I will observe and blog about later. But for now the idea of dismantling my arts organization and becoming a solo artist seems like a breath of fresh air. And the best thing to do for me and my family.