What do you need to take your creative work seriously?
A few days ago, I met with some folks at Room Project to talk about grant writing. With various levels of experience to bring to the table, we hashed out what that process could look like. The space needs funding to keep evolving and we are going to do everything within our power to make sure it gets that money.
One of the reasons I am volunteering my time to write grants for Room Project is because I see how impactful the space is within the Detroit creative community. While it provides exceptional, diverse programming that’s financially accessible, on a more base level, Room Project gives the writers and artists who use the space permission to take their work seriously.
This is no small offer. In a world where creative work is often dismissed as frivolous — or seen as a hobby — until it enters mainstream capitalist culture, having access to a resource that takes creatives seriously from day one is revolutionary. And Room Project is doing its part to support the creative folks leading the way.
Even if you don’t have a place to gather that will directly and enthusiastically support your creative work, you still get to take yourself seriously as an artist. Your work still matters regardless of whether or not you have “made it” or ever will make it. Your art gets to be a priority when you decide to make it one.
Which is easier said than done. You can repeat mindset mantras to yourself all day long but it’s probably going to be more effective to understand — in a felt way — that your work matters. It benefits you and the people you share it with; it is essential work that’s integral to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing as humans.
So making your work a priority isn’t just something that you do for yourself, it’s something you do for other people as well. You give your audience permission to feel what needs to be felt and to see themselves and the world in new ways. For whatever reason you ended up a creative and now it’s your responsibility to use your talents and skills to wake people up.
As artists and writers and performers, we don’t save lives on operating tables or in courtrooms or government offices. We save lives by telling stories through our work that connect us to each other and our shared humanity. We save lives by reminding as few as one other person that there is goodness to be found in even the darkest moments.
That is why you must make your creative work a priority. And when you connect to this core truth that your work matters deeply, you will stop at nothing to get it out into the world. Regardless of how far it reaches, you will have take your work — those stories that only you could tell — much further than had your art remained a nice-to-create instead of a need-to-create.
So, what do you need to take your creative work seriously?