I was volunteered to sit in on a panel of arts-entrepreneurs at a NJ high school. Why not? It proved to be an interesting assignment, particularly for me. There were three other folks on the panel: a performing and teaching actress, a stage design gentleman and another teaching artist and director of a playhouse in Bucks County. We were given 15 minutes to expound and then hang around for questions afterward.
It was an early start for me these days in order to start at 9 am. I would say I miss these early drives, but I’d only be half lying. I do love exploring the PA and Jersey landscape.
We were in the large library with a lectern, large projection screen and tables and chairs for about 30 – 40 kids. As the kids drifted in, I volunteered for the opener, and chirped in for the kids that this way, I’d be done first. We were asked to describe our field and give tips to the kids. I decided (as usual, it came late at night in bed) that I would forgo the my list of achievements and be interactive instead.
I wanted to help the kids discover their own route to being an artist – individual / performing / artist. I started by asking the kids to get out a sheet of paper and put three columns in. First column was Craftsperson. That meant what do you do for yourself to become good in your artistic field (lessons, practice, etc.) For Performing Artist I asked what do you do on stage, with other people, in public (open mikes, bands, teams, etc.) And that left Artist. What do you do to expand your performance and craft to become an Artist. I asked for a lot of feedback from the kids, and while most kids were somewhat ambushed, several bright students responded in kind. All in all, it was a good exercise and I was able to give the kids some of my experiences along the way. I sat down.
The other three panelists relied on power point presentations and did a fine job of describing their fields. Frankly, it got a little tedious and self-congratulatory, but gave valuable information for the kids. The question period was fairly active and the four of us responded nicely.
It was a good session and the school counsellor said it was the best of the several other similar events. I was particularly glad to do it, and drove home early on a Tuesday, satisfied with my part. I was glad I approached my part the way I did.