Thursday, August 3, 2017


I rarely if ever talk about my professional work as an artist, the lifetime job I’ve created and shared with so many other artists.
Perhaps because it is undefinable, ephemeral , or that my eloquence is limited. Though the true reason is that I am too consumed and impassioned in just doing it and living it.
In my line of work there is a vast amount of rejection. This rejection in the world of arts and entertainment is typically derived from a multitude of useless fears (currently of gluten and clowns- so we created the character - Gluten The Clown! ) , indecision, insecurity , lack of $, and many other harmless , unintentional  yet never-the-less, disappointing decisions from our potential clients. After three decades+ in this wonderful entertainment industry , I am fairly calloused to the rejection, though it still stings a bit. But, I’m soon immersed in the next great project, collaborating with a more visionary client , and the extraordinary team of artists here at Velocity. This action of creative work quickly erases any previous disappointment as we move together with full inspiration through the multitude of magical and technical details in every new work from concept to completion.

Today, I experienced a new reason for this stinging rejection- Cruelty , a force that I find to be intolerable. And a force that is now at the helm and core of our government , and of many world governments. It is apparently trickling down fast into the acceptable workings of business. I find it to be unacceptable.

To preface, much of our artists earned income is derived from creating new and unusual experiences for corporate events of all sorts. Regardless of if we agree, disagree or even understand various corporations policy and practices-  we actually love to bring the impactful humanity of our work to these very human audiences, who do not expect us. They are often a bit timid at first ,but by the end of the arc of an experience become awed , playful, and full of wonderment from each and every artist, crew, performer, and entertainer which they encounter from us. We have to earn their trust to ‘ignite their imaginations’ , and I enjoy the challenge and often leave feeling that we mutually contributed something empowering . The corporations and all event professionals involved succeed on a very satisfying kind of personal-and-up-close-level.

When I listen to, or approach a client or artist, my instinct is to be unapologetically straight forward, which comes from a genuinely deep care and passion in wanting to learn the truth and understand every new client, artist, venue, audience, concept, and in turn create and deliver the most poignant, beautiful and meaningful experience for the guests - period.

Recently , among many projects , our creative sales director had been in negotiation for 2 months for a large live entertainment project. As artistic director, I was assigned to meet with a regional team from the respected international corporation. As always , I showed up eager and ready to learn. They turned out to be the most lackluster and intentionally cruel team who I have ever encountered. This standard meeting and walk through of the venue was simply meant to inspire, hash out, solidify and enlighten us of the ‘elite' event mission, audience, etc, so that we could get to work building and rehearsing the ultimate experience.

When asking for insight into the guests, I simply received  the highly un-intelligent,  condescending , slam-the-door-in-your-face words:
"They have seen and done it all” (What the heck does that even mean?!)
Of course, I’ve heard this a few times in the past and take it as my cue to either leave, or to humorously turn it around. I choose the latter-  which has been successfully accomplished many times. This crew had no humor or warmth and clearly - no vision. No sense of humor in my experience is basically- the demise of the human spirit. However, the creative meeting lasted 2.5 hours and though tedious, progress was made.

When leaving the dry meeting, I was in fact against all odds- still inspired, even hope-full - and had a shared vision to deliver .
Below is what was written in our 'inspiration column', from the meeting notes. These are the only very enthusiastic words spoken direct from the lips of the corporate team leader (I am replacing the proper name with ‘founder’ and the occupation with ‘worker’ ): “The founder hated women, he despised his wife and was intentionally cruel to her, he did not care if his workers died, in fact he preferred that they died so they could be replaced with better workers...."
To which I earnestly replied: “Is this the concept you would you like me to weave into the guests' experience?”

Of course he had no reasonable answer to this or any other question, so we shifted focus and came up with a beautiful concept gracefully woven through the evening and departed on a handshake and agreement.
After 2 months of negotiation, about 15 revisions imposed by them, hours of meetings and travel time, disrespectfully depleting our many resources and tapping both our internal trusted relations and event professional relations to the maximum - they dropped us 2 weeks before the event, no explanation, no additional creative direction.
Velocity is not entitled to the job, and perhaps we did not present well enough for them to understand the vision- a challenge we often face creating new site/audience specific works. The clients actions do not surprise me , but it still hurts and disgusts on so many levels.

Typically, the next revelation with these types of clients is that they take all, or part of our concept and farm it out to others to produce it for ‘ cheaper ' . Of course, this is not how any inspired or great art is accomplished, but they do not care.
To me , Care is the only force which bonds anyone personally or professionally with each other.
It is despicable that operating with a lack of care is becoming the normal model of large companies doing business with artists, two disparate entities who have so much to offer to support one another.

In any event, we’ll continue to find new strategies and battle to keep the arts and artists afloat for the many people and businesses who do care.

To any friends out there who give a shit- remind me to run next time I hear the lofty, ambiguous, careless words “We’ve Seen and Done it ALL’ !!!
How can anyone seriously even speak those words? I think I feel a comedy act coming on…

Glad to be in the memory making business, rather than the $ making business- though a few bucks helps!!.

Off to higher grounds...