August 28, 2011

This Is An Open Letter

I get invites on Facebook from people in my city to come to their shows. I also send invites on Facebook to people in my city to come to There Will Be Words. I try to show up to shows when someone I like is in them or running them. What I dislike the most is when you invite me to show after show and I come to show after show or I’m in show after show but yet you won’t come to any of my shows. Ever.

This is not just a local problem, I’m sure, and the only way we (my fellow organizers) can solve it is cutting these people off. If someone invites you to a show and never comes to yours, block their ability to invite you on Facebook. If they ask you to come to a show verbally, tell them no and explain why you won’t come (because you never come to mine when I ask). Only when they start coming to your events, then you can unblock their ability to invite you to shows and then go to theirs out of respect because they (finally) made the effort to come to your show. If the first paragraph describes you, cut the shit, seriously.

HOUSEFIRE put up the bonus story I wrote for NOUNS OF ASSEMBLAGE, which you can read here.

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Jesse, I strongly disagree with the sentiment you express here. People go to shows because they enjoy the content of a show. If people keep inviting you to go to their shows, and you go, and you enjoy yourself there and/or the content of the show, you have nothing to complain about.

    If you invite people to your shows, and they don’t ever go, it’s because the timing is terrible for them (my issue for many, many local events I would like to attend) or the subject matter doesn’t interest them. If they went to one show and then never returned, you should consider the possibility that they just don’t care for the content of your shows. That’s nothing personal to you; people can like an individual without liking their band/poetry/performance/art endeavors. It’s you who make it personal if you boycott someone’s events because they, as an individual, don’t attend yours.

    You can’t please everyone all the time, and it’s petty to punish people who entertain you just because you don’t entertain them. Performers are not entitled to support just because they are sometimes members of an audience.

    xo,

    Hannah

    Reply
    • I absolutely understand the terrible timing thing, I do, and I never fault anyone for having things that conflict with my shows. Life is more important.

      However, if someone came to one show and never, came back, that’s fine. They at least came to one show, which is better than not coming at all. They at least tried it out. I won’t fault people for not liking the content. You’re right – you can’t please everyone all the time. But when I am bombarded with event invites over and over and over by people who have had me come to their shows or be in their shows but never, ever (ever) come to mine, I draw the line and have to say enough is enough. It starts conversation like this, conversations that some people find really hard to have or to start. I appreciate you coming to the first There Will Be Words and being in the October show. I’ve never been to the Orlando Puppet Festival but will for the first time this year. I appreciate your feedback.

      Reply
      • I’m glad you forgive the timing thing, since I’m writing this on a night of TWBW that I skipped to plaster sculptures, work, and study for a test. >:P

        FYI Jesse, the Orlando Puppet Festival is not my event at all. I mean, I work for IBEX and support it, but it’s being produced by another person who maintains minimal professional association with me. The only component I am directly involved with is the Action Puppet Force (the puppet slam), which I am just producing/stage managing on behalf of the Central FL Puppet Guild. If you’d like to see something I have creative control over (well, with some restrictions), come see me at the Orlando Museum of Art at November’s 1st Thursday or wait until my street performances are ready.

        I understand where you’re coming from in your complaint. I’m just tired of hearing the same complaint over and over again from producers and artists in different mediums… when I was obsessed with music and played in 4203948566 bands, I heard it from every local musician; back in the day I heard it from spoken word artists who frequented or ran open mics or slams; I hear it from painters in galleries, I hear it from directors and actors in local theatre (esp. during Fringe season, ho ho ho), and so on and so on and so on.

        The simple truth is that motivating anyone to come out to an arts event of any form is difficult. There are entire organizations devoted to the generic idea of expanding audiences for the arts–it is often noted as being the #1 issue in arts administration today. There are many reasons why this is so; a commonly cited one is a lack of proper arts education during formative years to eliminate the “fear of the unknown” factor that keeps people from experiencing new things. Another factor, one that is not usually discussed openly except by rants in blogs or drunken snipes in smoky bars, is the “strip mall phenomenon”: people creating half-assed events of their own rather than supporting events of quality (oft referred to as “boutique events”). There’s a great article on this that has been making the rounds of the arts community here in Central Florida; it addresses a music label specifically but its basic concept can be extrapolated to any field:

        http://www.artsjournal.com/jumper/2011/08/how-to-avoid-a-strip-mall-future-for-the-arts-sector-lessons-from-the-boutique-label-pi/

        It’s hard to labor in love for an art form that is not usually even recognized as valid by the mainstream population of our country (like spoken word or lit events in general); working with puppetry has really opened my eyes to the extra challenge that presents in motivating an audience. I feel your pain. I do.

        The only answer to the people who invite you to events and don’t attend yours is to make your events unmissable.

        More eloquently, make those fuckfaces piss their panties with frustration and envy as everyone they admire as hip and worldly tweets about how wonderful the night was that they missed.

      • Well said. Well said. Hope you’re doin’ ok.

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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net.

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