Pro and Am – Running back and forth

On the verge of starting our first workshop for non-identifying artists –  I’ve been thinking, and really beginning to work towards, the ability to move between professional and amateur.This appeared in my inbox today (Via You’ve Cott Mail)

“Among the consequences of our fetishism of professional status, it strikes me that we have relegated ourselves to being a sector with huge numbers of unsuccessful and underemployed professional artists rather than a sector with huge numbers of successful, part-time or occasional, pro-am ones.”

(Via State of the Artist » Blog Archive » Diane Ragsdale: The professional lens: Are we a sector of underemployed ‘professional’ artists or successful ‘pro-ams’?.)

I think Ragsdale’s take is accurate in Canada as well the US – though there are some important differences.

The funding structures in Canada also push us towards identifying as either professional or amateur as do the professional associations (unsurprisingly.) The bureaucratic processes and long timelines mean that the momentum and passion that drive doing something “for the love of it” can fade or be crushed.

But it’s not the economic or career ramifications of the separation that are most interesting and available for change – I think the art form will get better and I think more people will be interested in that better art, if there is fluidity between the “pro” and the “am.”

As I’ve said before, theatre might be better to do than it is to watch, and it’s certainly better to watch if one also does. To prevent this equation from spiralling only towards esoteric practices, it is crucial that there are people running back and forth between the research and the community. Not to approach social work (though this also is good and interests) but to approach a theatre that deals with the world outside of itself and to develop larger communities who both do and watch contemporary work.

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