Carpe the effin’ diem: Thoughts and Advice for Artists/Creators
The Network for Arts Administrators of Color (NAAC Boston) is a program that enhances the visibility of professionals of color in Greater Boston’s arts and culture sector, as well as widen the leadership pipeline and highlight opportunities for professional and personal growth in the field. NAAC Boston offers participants the opportunity to connect, network, and share learnings with the intent to empower, elevate, and retain talented professionals of color in the sector. The creation of this network reflects the importance of visibility for professionals of color, and the value that diverse perspectives contribute to an enhanced workforce and culture.
In this time of restriction because of Covid-19, I encourage artists to use art to create balance in their lives, put beauty into the world, and reflect on and illuminate who we are as human beings. I encourage art appreciators to support art aggressively. It will lift you and contribute positivity to the world.
In this time of restriction, I have found myself looking back over my life as an active arts administrator, community-connector, and inactive artist myself (until recently). My message succinctly put is to carpe the effin’ diem with apologies to the Roman poet, Horace, for riffing on his phrase “carpe diem” which means seize the day. It has always been true that one needs to seize opportunities and activate ideas, but the restrictions of Covid-19 and a rapidly warming climate makes this more urgent than ever.
If I could turn back the hands of time and talk to myself as a young woman, there are so many things I would say. Since I can’t talk to her, I will talk to you hoping to make you understand this: the time will never be better for you to create than it is at this moment. This was true as I was beginning my journey; this was true all along the way; and it is true now.
The day that you have an idea or an inkling of an idea is the ideal time to start. The days when you have energy that lasts all day and into the night are the perfect days to create. The days/weeks/months when so many ideas come at you that you don’t know which one to follow and get stymied trying to choose, is the time to work on multiple ideas. Pick one thing and do it. Then pick another and do it. Sometimes you will give each of the many projects their own time sequentially throughout a year; at other times you will work through them sequentially in a day. Pick one. Give it its due. In making a selection, one will jump to the front of the line and make you follow it to fullness if not completion.
There will never be a better time to create than when nothing is selling or you are in between grant cycles or you have art waiting to be selected. This is a time when you must create until the audience/customers/grants/shows come. Create to perfect your craft. Create routinely, regularly. Even modest, run-of-the-mill creations will bring forth something magnificent or new – bits of creativity that work to prime the pump of your inspiration. Discipline to create product.
Create because in creation you are putting artistic energy into the universe. Bits of that energy, that focus will float beyond the space they were created and be borne by the air to places near and far – hearts, minds, and energies that will eventually open up to you.
Silva-Collins’ new children’s book, Stacey Became a Frog One Day, is out now.
When you can’t find a patron or a source of outside money, believe in yourself enough to produce your own work – modestly or boldly. Do it. Ask for help from your family/friends/community to whom you’ve given and supported. Celebrate and elevate all the beauty and creation of fellow artists.
Their lights shine and yours will, too, ‘cause we all have light like the degrees of a three-way bulb – our light will be turned up when it’s the time but the degrees of light are always there.
Get over the scariness of the word NO. Don’t tell yourself no by not going for it, whatever it is. When you hear no from others, understand that a no now is not a forever no. Learn and grow. Learn and reapply. Learn and go – to another source, another way. Feel the fear of rejection and push through it.
Watch Silva-Collins in Paving the Way: A Conversation with Leaders of Color in the Arts with ArtsBoston in 2017
Build a team of people to help you as you create – hire and barter to assemble the team. As artists/creators we can’t do every single thing. Your team might include a proof-reader and/or editor; a good financial person; and an assistant to help you organize paper or help staff your reception or booth.
Expand the communities and networks you know and who know you. Visit, virtually and eventually in person, other neighborhoods, other cities/towns/states/countries; different artistic and creative disciplines; and new venues, etc. Don’t be afraid to be the only person of your tribe at events and on committees. That’s how we learn, grow, and get seen.
Nothing ever succeeds but a try. So carpe the effin diem. Today. Okay?
Candelaria Silva-Collins is an arts consultant, writer and facilitator who lives in Dorchester. She connects community-based groups to the arts and arts and cultural institutions to community-based groups.
She coordinates the Community Membership Initiative of the Huntington Theatre Company; is Program Manager for the Fellowes Athenaeum Trust Fund of the Boston Public Library; and is coordinator for the Creative Entrepreneur Fellowship of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury – a cultural economic development organization – was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook.
Candelaria’s children’s stories, fiction, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her first published children’s book, Stacey Became a Frog One Day, will be published in October 2020. She is Chair, Designators of the George B. Henderson Foundation and an Advisory Board member of Write on the Dot. She previously served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Dunamis Boston, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. @CandelariaSilv6