Get Back On And Ride

Guess what. I'm doing it.

Guess what? I’m doing it.

It is universally true that we must fail to learn. In fact, as absolutes and paradoxes go, the single universal lesson that we must learn is that there is no such thing as failure. To unlearn is, in fact, also to learn. Everything is a step forward when failure is out of the equation. I fell off my bike more than once before I learned to balance and ride. I made some terrifically ugly colors as I learned to paint. That is the nature of learning.

Over the past decade I’ve tried more than once to produce my play, The Lost Boy. And, like learning to ride a bike, I’ve fallen off with each attempt. The latest tumble came with a failed Kickstarter attempt. Sitting on the curb, my metaphoric bike akimbo, I asked, “What is it about this play?” It will not leave me alone and yet it has been more than difficult to produce. And, as it does, the learning followed the fall. And there is nothing to be done but get back up and ride.

And, as is also true, when you decide that you are going to do something, the way opens (note: that does not mean that there are no challenges). When we didn’t meet our Kickstarter goal, I had the option to let it go forever or, I had to decide that I was going to produce this play with bake sales, lemonade stands, or any other whacky idea that would get me to opening night. This play will not leave me alone and, as I learned in the fall, I will not leave it alone. The decision was already made and I needed the failed campaign to see it.

And the way opened. The University of the Pacific decided to donate the theatre and to help with some marketing through alumni networks. I laughed when, given their generous donation, I made my new budget. The amount I need (bare bones) to get to opening night is almost identical to the amount pledged in the failed campaign. So, taking what I’ve learned, I’ve mounted a new campaign and asked the previous pledgers to pledge again. And, since I adore paradoxes and don’t really believe in absolutes, I’m passing this link out in every way possible. Nothing is for sure – except that I will do this play in February in California.

The lesson, of course, is to ask for help and ask again (something I was not good at doing in the first campaign). The other lesson is this: a play that will not let you go is worth doing and it is worth doing whatever it takes to give it life. So help me give it life. Here’s the new Kickstarter campaign. Please support it if you can by pledging or passing the link out through your networks.

I don’t mind falling off my bike again because now I know that I will simply dust myself off and get back on to ride. Join me in California in February for the world premiere of The Lost Boy.

title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.

Guess what. I'm doing it.

And, in case you missed it, here’s the link to the new The Lost Boy Kickstarter campaign

Determine The Value

The Lost Boy (one of many) sitting on a mule.

The Lost Boy (one of many) sitting on a mule.

Last year Skip taught me that crowd sourcing sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo were great ways to test the viability of a project or product. If an idea is valuable, people will invest in it. If not, not. If an idea is viable it will attract support.

As an artist I’ve had a wonky relationship with the valuation equation. Generally, the economics of art live outside the norms of the marketplace. For instance, I’ve run or consulted with many theatre companies; it is virtually impossible for the product of a theatre company – the live performance of a play – to pay for itself through ticket sales. Unlike other products, things like cars or bananas, arts organizations and the products they produce are made possible through grants, donations, patrons and this weird mechanism called “non-profit” status. The costs of producing the play (the art) usually outstrip the capacity of the “product” to generate a profit.

When I first met Skip he asked me a question for which I had no capacity to answer: “How can you scale up?” His question brought me to the concept confusion that lives at the very heart of the economics of art: bananas, cars, and iphones can be mass-produced. They are meant to be consumed on a grand scale. They are built to break down, to be replaced by the newest, latest, and greatest. The arts, to be living, to be vital, are rarely capable of mass consumption.

The arts serve personal (and, therefore, communal) transformation. They are not meant to break down, to be replaced by the new; they are meant to sustain, to renew from a deep irreplaceable wellspring. If the iphone, banana, or car is the fruit of the vine, the arts are the root system, that which brings nutrient to the fruit, that which holds the identity of the culture. Pluck the fruit and the vine will replace it. There will always be more. Pluck the root and you kill the plant. There is only one root. The fruit is meant for consuming. The root serves a different purpose.

Places of worship and education face the same value confusion. The sacred stuff, like art, is not consumable so how does a consumer culture determine its value? Learning is an ongoing personal process, an irreplaceable relationship with the world. Both education and worship, like a living art, are experiences rather than products. They are meant to be valued differently than a new countertop or a pair of shoes.

Some forms of art are capable, through the miracle of technology, of mass consumption: movies, music recordings, art posters and prints. Technology can do many things but it cannot replace presence. It allows us to see. It cannot replace touch. It allows us on a mass scale to see a reproduction of a painting by, let’s say, Van Gogh. We can appreciate the painting through the print. However, we cannot experience it. Nothing can replace direct experience, the personal moment of standing with the painting. A live performance is…live. It is alive, inclusive, and meant to transform through presence and participation in a shared moment. The economics of valuation confuse the greater valuation.

I am testing Skip’s notion with the viability of a project. I’ve launched a Kickstarter – my first – to fund a play. It is a heart project, personal to me and I think relevant to my community. Take a look. If it looks like it has value, you’ll know what to do.

Go here to check out my kickstarter for THE LOST BOYDSC_1196 copy



title_pageGo here to buy hard copies (and Kindle) of my latest book: The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, Innovator, Seeker, Learner, Leader, Creator,…You.