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From Starving to Thriving : How Artists Can Take Their Power Back During COVID-19

even in the midst of a crisis I do not believe that we have to seep into the "starving artist" mold...

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Sidonie Smith | Credit: Alina Berger
Sidonie Smith | Credit: Alina Berger

Let’s be real— none of us went into the arts because it was “stable”, but even for the unshakable among us these last few weeks have been a doozy. 

Artists the world over are typing “cancelled” into their calendars at an unprecedented rate and experts have no conclusive answer as to whether or when the postponed projects and banned side hustles can become reality once again. Although we can agree that the ultimate priority is our health, that of our loved ones and fellow humans, there is a second looming concern floating around the creative community: how will I get paid?

All of this has left us as an artistic collective feeling utterly powerless and out of control. However, even in the midst of a crisis I do not believe that we have to seep into the starving artist mold. 

On the contrary, even in crisis we are powerful. 

As I look around, from live concerts via Zoom, to Facebook monologue workshops, to virtual senior showcases we have seen the artistic community show up for itself and for the world, providing hope, laughter, welcomed distraction, and deluges of love in the time of COVID-19.

And yet some of us are still struggling to find footing in this surreal phase where the world seems to be on “pause”. 

If this is you, you are not the only one, which raises the following question: How can we Creatives continue to feed our souls and reclaim our power in a time where it feels our very livelihoods are up in the air? 

Here are five things that can help you tap into your power today:

Revisit Older Material

In times of chaos and uncertainty nostalgia can truly soothe the soul. Somewhere between Netflix binges and family FaceTimes, I challenge you to reach back to an old song, monologue, art piece – – something perhaps from the very beginning of your studies or something that reminds you of a time where you fell in love with your art form.

We all have that piece. For me it’s the  song Your Daddy‘s Son from the musical Ragtime. I remember wanting so desperately to sing it well when I was in college. I would listen to Audra MacDonald in all her vocally seamless glory billowing through my ‘99 Corolla and dream.

I rehearsed it and saw myself grow, but it was still a song that presented me with many challenges. When I revisit that song today I am flooded with so much joy. Joy for the memories of how far I’ve come, gratitude for the unknowing mentor that this incredible artist has always been to me, and comfort in the familiar brilliance of a piece that I love so much. 

As you think back over your creative history thus far, I encourage you to reach for the piece that brings you back to that safe comforting place. Revisit it like an old love. Be present and be grateful.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Amidst the memes and cute kitten videos floating around the web, you are definitely noticing your friends and colleagues being hyper-productive in this time. It’s beautiful and it’s inspiring. But it is still the highlight reel.

Even in this weird quarantine reality show that we’re currently living, the Internet is not mirroring life in its most true form. If instead of being hyper-productive today you need to allow yourself to feel feelings of sadness for the jobs lost, stability lost, and lives lost in the last few weeks – – Take. Your. Moment. 

This is not self-indulgent, it is self-care. 

Allowing yourself a period to feel the emotions of the last few weeks does not make you a negative person. In fact, taking this deep, reflective breath may be exactly the reset you need to get you back on your powerful path of artistry. 

Create Art for the Joy of It

The world is brimming with beautiful work right now: from poetry and paintings to comedy and virtual courses. I’m so grateful for it.

Share your work and keep sharing, but I challenge you to take a moment today to practice your art… just for you. 

Put something into the atmosphere that doesn’t go live — something that resonates with you and just you — because making art is healing for the soul.

Reclaim Your Social Media Presence

Your social media presence is an extension of you. And because your very presence is powerful I challenge you to show up boldly and authentically.

If you have been meaning to create engaging content that impacts the world “one of these days”, take initiative and begin now. And if you don’t know how, seek out experts and mentors to help you find your voice. 

Scroll with intention, seeing yourself as not only a consumer of media but also a creator, and get to the business of adding value to the lives of those you engage with today. Giving value has a powerful way of paying dividends that I guarantee you’ll see in mood, your reach and your art. 

Renew Your Money Mindset

This is a biggie. We’ve been told a lie for generations that our skills, although enjoyable, will not be rewarded generously. So many of us have been hooked up to the IV drip feed of struggle since the day we first pulled on a ballet slipper, picked up a paintbrush, or plucked a note. 

But what if this was all an illusion? What if the story was only true because we believed it was true? 

In an age that provides so many opportunities to build brands, businesses, and give form to big ideas, we as artists are actually in the best position to benefit both creatively and monetarily. 

What other community is so adept in problem solving, calculated risk taking, connecting, imagination, rapid memorization, mastering new skills, communication, and unmatched drive? 

We are not starving, doomed or to be pitied. We have been gifted with the tools to thrive. Yes, even now.

Sidonie Smith | Credit: Alina Berger

Now Is The Time

Creatives, we are powerful. We are important. We are necessary. 

Times of crisis can cause us to forget these things but, take heart. Times of crisis can also provide us with the perspective shift to see past the things we can’t control to the things that we can.

Comment below the action you’re taking today in order to reclaim your power. 

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