So we did it. The performance happened and we had a nice-sized audience that actually clapped afterwards. Everything fell into place: singers sung, lights lighted, conductor conducted, musicians musicked and the page-turner turned pages. It felt great, and then we stood there in a row, relieved and bowing, fake blood all over our faces. That was the first performance.
(And there will be more: Tuesday 31st of May Jääkausi is returning in Hietalahden Paviljonki. More info is coming soon.)
Now, looking back at the process leading to this first night, it's time for some Big Thoughts on Doing Things Like This:
1. It's possible. You can make a project happen if you work hard enough. It might not work in the exact way you pictured it at first, but somehow it is doable with persistence and determination. There are always obstacles and annoying things and downsides and wasted hours of grant applications and hardships, but if we could pull this off, then sure you can pull off your stuff, too.
2. But it probably won't happen fast. It is near impossible to get any funding in the beginning if you don't have anything concrete to show (a finished composition, performance locations etc). So don't feel disheartened if no money comes in; funding is easier to get with good promotional material and proof of some results. Also, if you only are interested in the money-side of things, I suggest you quickly stop being an artist and go into accounting or investment banking. And then hire me as your secretary, please.
3. Have high hopes but don't feel disappointed if they don't fully materialize. It's important to dream big but at the same time to keep a realistic view of what's possible and what would be nice but probably won't happen. I mean, we're ready to take over the world, but first you have to have the product finished. Then you have to learn it and perform it. Find some people who believe in it, and maybe they will tell others. Baby steps. Sure there are people who get famous overnight and who get a million-euro-grant just by snapping their fingers, but those are the minority. Others take baby steps, my friend.
4. Don't try to do everything on your own. Me, I am a control freak and had a tough time learning that sometimes it's a good idea to let other people do things. Lesson learned: when you delegate, then Really Delegate and trust that people will do what you asked them to do. Why stay awake at night worrying that the printing company will fuck up your poster's color scheme when there's nothing you can do about it? Those dark patches under your eyes are not worth it, I assure you.
5. Listen to advice. Sometimes other people know something you don't, or they have a better perspective, or they're not so emotionally attached to the project you're practically married to. Advice should never be rejected. I'm not saying that all advice is good or that you should change everything just because someone told you to. Just that every piece of advice should be given some thought first and then either taken on board or cast aside.
6. Only do things you believe in. People will have opinions, good and bad, they will criticize and judge you, and if you don't believe in what you're doing it's easy to lose your way in the hurricane of what-people-think. It comes with being an artist, no matter what kind: learning to know in yourself whether what you do is good or not. For me it has been one of the hardest things to take in - to trust my own judgement and not be so easily swayed by the criticism of others.
Numbers five and six might seem contradictory, but I believe that the magical balance between recognizing helpful advice and trusting your own vision is what makes a person grow. A work in progress, I'm struggling to learn to do just that.
7. Always, always remember to throw a good party afterwards.