This is special episode of the Art Biz Podcast.
No music. No promotions. Just me and the microphone.
Last week I received an email from a listener, who wrote:
I am a fan of your podcast. I think it can serve as a wonderful tool for artists to learn how to grow and get inspired. With that said, I was wondering if you are planning on making an episode pertaining to Black lives, Black artists, and using art for activism. I haven’t heard anything yet from you about this human rights issue. As a listener, right now, these are what we are looking for. How to get people involved through art, inspiration on making real change and bringing awareness to these issues with our art.
She was certainly right to request this, and it’s a tall order that I could never do justice in a single episode.
It made me realize something very important, and it’s a lesson for your art business. Not everyone who listens to this podcast subscribes to my email list or follows me on social media. Because I wrote a long email to subscribers and I’ve been posting on social media.
But I’ve been ignoring this platform. Not on purpose! It’s just that there are so many channels these days. I’m sure you can relate. So the lesson is: Leverage your content across all platforms if you want your message to be heard.
Please forgive me for being silent on the podcast until now. As you will learn, it wasn’t my intention.
What I Posted on Social Media and Shared with My Email List
This is what I wrote to my email list, with some updated thoughts.
As the leader of Art Biz Success, I want to acknowledge the pain that so many people are feeling after the murder of George Floyd. And to remember all of our other beautiful Black brothers and sisters we have lost to violence.
I apologize for the delay in my response, but I've been trying to find my voice amid so much pain. I am still searching for words. Mostly I’m listening and learning. But I can no longer be silent.
If you don't think this is the place for me to talk about this topic, you are wrong. Yes, I am here to help you grow your art business, but to ignore the current environment–to ignore the grief that so many are feeling–would be sh*tty leadership. It also wouldn't reflect the values I hold dear to my heart.
This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with our shared humanity. Throughout history, no one has been more sensitive to social injustices than artists. Artists of all stripes–musicians, performers, poets, writers, and, yes, visual artists.
The creative work you put out in the world is more important than ever. We are counting on you not only to continue making art, but also to contribute to the betterment of society–like you've always done, consciously or not. Thank you for doing this important work.
If you are Black … I see you. You matter. And I'm beyond grateful that you trust me enough to be here. I’d love to hear your story. DM me on Instagram @alysonstanfield or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to hear from you.
If you are discouraged, outraged, confused, or freakin' sad … You are not alone. It's okay to feel all of those emotions.
If you find it difficult to focus on business right now … Oh, boy, do I hear ya. It's okay to tend to more pressing matters, like your community and self-care. It's more than okay to be unproductive. You are blessedly, imperfectly human.
In the Women's March of 2017, I carried a sign that said, “Silence Is Not an Option.” In a recent vigil in a local park, my sign read, “Silence=Complicity #BlackLivesMatter.” I intend to live up to those words. I intend to speak.
I will continue to focus on helping you with your art business through the podcast, my online courses, videos, and social media. That hasn't changed. But now you know where my heart is.
I'm here. Learning to be a better leader by reading, watching, and listening.
The Response from My Subscribers
I received many messages of gratitude. Truly … hundreds. I’m especially grateful for the African-American artists who took the time to let me know they appreciated my acknowledgments.
And grateful to hear from the White mothers of Black children, who fear for the safety of their children everyday. And from two Japanese American women who faced racism when their families were imprisoned in U.S. concentration camps during World War II.
I’m honored that they trusted me with their stories.
Their messages far outshone the one (it must be said) White woman who unsubscribed because she thought it was disgraceful that I used George Floyd’s death to benefit my business. I’m sorry she saw it that way.
I don't know what she wanted me to do. I don't know how I could've placated her in that moment. Maybe stay silent. Strangely, I wasn’t promoting a single thing in that email, but it was obvious that she never knew or trusted me because, if she had, she couldn’t have felt that way. She couldn’t have known my heart.
I imagine there were others who unsubscribed because they felt we were on different sides of the political spectrum and they didn’t want to hear from me. Fine. If we can’t agree on the value of a human life then we will never agree on the value of art in our society. It’s best you not waste your time with me.
Next Steps for The Art Biz Podcast
I don’t know where I’ll be going from here, but, as I said, I won’t be silent. And, what I know is that I’m not the person you should be listening to about this topic. However, I am a person who is happy to ask questions of those you should be listening to.
That said … I’m looking for new voices who would like to speak up on this podcast. I’d love to share this platform with you.
From what I have gathered, Black artists are being inundated with requests to appear on livestreams and podcasts. One artist who agreed to come on the show said, “Give me a week.” I truly don’t want to contribute to your exhaustion.
I'm going to be here. Yes, we are having a moment right now, but I pray that it lasts a very long time. Know that this is an open invitation for when you're ready to share about your art, your personal story, or about your participation and your thoughts on Black Lives Matter when you're ready.
I am waiting to listen, because again, yours are the voices that people should be listening to. Not mine. So. Thank you to everyone listening for being here and for being part of the solution. Be good to one another.