Category: Comment

Thought for the Day

When I’m caught in the fight
I am blinded by my rightness
fed by the thoughts
of being wronged

Martinos © 2017

True Partnership

I am a balance, a provision, a gesture, a trust

Existing with you and for you

Not without you

 

My alchemy, captured in maxim

Is confirmation of the stuff of mutual benefit

A marriage of skills

A proof: the whole being appreciably greater than the sum of its parts

 

I am agile in diversity

Vigilant in adversity

Convergent in purpose

Versatile and dynamic

 

I am a living thing however you cannot hold me still

 

Able to self-sustain and self-renew

Delicate, supple, irrepressible, robust

 

I am manifest through your achievements

An expression

Cyclical, evidentiary, transmuting

 

I am dance

And your welcome,

when you find me.

 

Martinos @ 2016

Your Worth

your worth is not defined or dependent on acceptance or rejection,
for it is sure in this world you will experience both

your worth is determined by the integrity of that for which you stand
and in how you are aligned in that stance to your purpose in this life

in generous action, optimism and perseverance your worth will shine through
and the world you leave behind will thank you and be better for it

MChallis © 2016

Something Useful to Remember

Something useful to remember when encountering or participating in righteousness, fanaticism or evangelism.  

Dan Challis: Quicker than the Dead

 

Viewing this for the first time brings many many emotions to this father of 6. Prevailing all feelings is one of deepest gratitude – when our children grow tall in their joy and their giving – when our children grow tall…

first position for learning:

give yourself permission

to not know

 

MChallis © 2015

Act then let go 

MC

“Do good work then throw it in the river”

Zen Master

when i act to heal myself i act to heal the world – when i act to heal the world i act to heal myself
MC2015

this is not a poem

crash the barriers
test the waters
ask the curious question
make a list of to-do’s
include
– put the weapon down:
abuse
glock
razor
fire-cage
gelignite?
whatever
just put them down – if not
how should you proceed?
terror rises in the east
fear rises in the west
does each
respond in kind?
curious word, kind
no kindness in retaliation,
do solutions exist?
crash the barriers
test the waters
grieve the stricken
forgive the horror
whatever ways you decide
remember
this is not a poem.

MChallis © 2015

The Disprovers

In a spiral galaxy, the ratio of dark-to-light matter is about a factor of ten. That’s probably a good number for the ratio of our ignorance-to-knowledge. We’re out of kindergarten, but only in about third grade.
Vera Rubin

In questioning existence
It’s purpose and
Our place in the universe
The disprover looks for evidence from the Galaxy.

No matter how extraordinary the measurements
Such as the size of the sun and it’s distance from the earth
The ratio of dark to light matter
The number of atoms in each molecule of carbon
The countless number of solar systems
The disprovers find no evidence of purpose or cause.

I wonder if they
might be looking
In the wrong place!

 

MChallis @ 2015

Why Wait for a Crisis

My father lay dying. It was 5am in the morning. I leant down and kissed his forehead. I love you dad, I whispered not sure if he registered. I walked over to my mother who had been standing a little away from his bed and held her in my arms for a good while. The taxi would arrive any minute. The plane back to Brisbane departing at 6 am. Whatever happens you’ve done your best mom, I told her. I could see she wasn’t convinced. She had loved this man for over sixty years. A dutiful devoted wife. He is my life she told me. With that I kissed her on the cheek and left her tending to her waning paramour. My mother had nursed him for almost 5 weeks single-handed and as his health declined over that time so had hers. She looked tired and frail. She was afraid.

Before leaving I had counselled her to call for medical assistance. Because of her faith she had not yet done so. Ultimately it was her call as Dad was by now incoherent. As much as I disagreed with her position I respected it was her decision.

Returning to Brisbane that afternoon, I received a phone call from a family friend. He informed me that my mother had finally conceded she was no longer able to care for my father at home by herself. She also conceded that it was time to seek medical assistance. She had called a doctor to the house and he had acted immediately calling an ambulance, which rushed my father to hospital. My friend told me the doctor took one look at him and said; call an ambulance.

Five weeks earlier it turned out, he had experienced kidney failure and that had been the main reason for his demise. He was saved at the last minute by miraculous medical intervention and ultimately recovered in hospital, albeit with some complications. For a man in his mid eighties he did very well and as I  heard, gave the nurses plenty of cheek whenever he got the chance.

Why did my mother and father take so long to call for medical assistance? The reason is that they are practicing Christian Scientists. Part of their faith is that they use the power of prayer for healing. They do not believe in medicine.

Please know that I am not going to get into any derisive commentary about their faith or the way they practice it. I am also not going to attempt to fully explain their convictions or the current practices of this religion. What I do want to discuss is the paradigm of what I perceive to be: a closed mind or a fixed belief causing harm. As you can imagine there has been a lot of soul searching in my family around all this. You can probably imagine the conversations. The polarity occurring between the belief at one end and the non-belief at the other. So much so that for some including my mother there is extreme guilt for calling in medical assistance. At the other end there is extreme anger for her not doing so.  Another polarity is that once medical assistance has been called then all prayer through Christian Science must cease. One excludes the other. I do not understand this and I have to ask, why?

What I do understand is that our thoughts are a powerful source of energy. In a sense, we are what we think. Thoughts can change the world. One has only to attend an Anthony Robbins seminar, listen to Esther Hicks or read the ideas supporting Quantum Physics to appreciate this. One has only to practice it oneself to realise it. I do understand the reasoning behind attending to good thoughts, to working to keep positive attention and in the case of Christian Scientists to read the bible and the Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker-Eddy to affirm and deepen scriptural knowledge.

What I don’t understand is why a practice or faith has to become non-inclusive of other practices or faiths. Especially when in the case of Christian Science, holding exclusively to a belief, clearly had detrimental consequences.

It is certainly a human trait to lock into mindsets and beliefs, which is most likely an attempt to create security in what is perceived as a world of insecurity where anything can happen and usually does. Somehow it seems that we believe that our fixed beliefs will keep us safe. How often does it happen that we hold a fixed idea about something only to have it wrenched from us at the point of crisis? Why wait for crisis?

Some would say this is an ego state that attaches to fixed beliefs in the vain hope crisis will be averted through the enforcement of certainty and control. Controlling beliefs.

To the fixed state it appears that even when the flow of life is interrupted the indication that something is calling for our attention is not regarded as a signal for inquiry or change.

If a more open state of mind is developed to foster sensitivity to the interruption of ‘flow’, might it be possible to also keep ideas about life in a more fluid state? Perhaps it might be possible to move from controlling beliefs to ‘operating beliefs’? Beliefs that represent our values and yet are sensitive to change, to new dynamics, to interruption.

This is not to imply that we should dissolve all morals and ethics, rather, to see that when disorder and disease arise it most likely is a sure-fire sign that something needs our attention.

What I want to say to Christian Scientists is that—is it not possible for a faith that was born around 200 years ago to evolve? Is it not possible that the practice of Christian Science and medicine, be it eastern or western, can become mutually inclusive? Of course there needs to be respect and consideration for different needs. However what I have always experienced as a young man growing up around Christian Science is that medicine and matters to do with the material world became a source of fear. Not to be talked about. Not to be discussed. In my experience the very act of wanting to talk about or discuss this conundrum was shunned. Avoidance won the day.

I realise I am not going to resolve all the issues around dogma and fixed beliefs in one short reflection. I do want to share my experience around this and trust my family will respect the discussion. What ever happens from here I do know this: there has to be a basis of mutual respect and love when dealing with different faiths and beliefs. If my parents had decided not to call for medical help and my father had passed away I would have been very sad of course but ultimately would respect this as, their way. I do not agree with it and would urge anyone in this situation to encourage an alternate course of action.

In my heart I see that it is not about faith-to-faith or intra-faith exclusion, where one practice cannot work with another. I see that the flow of life is inclusive and inter-connected. Perhaps we will all know this one day soon enough. Perhaps even this last statement might constitute an ‘operating belief’.

 

MChallis © 2015

I Judged Her Until Yesterday

(Reprinted from July 2007)

It was a Sunday in September. The afternoon breeze fresh from the south. The sun gently warming. It was the kind of afternoon where one might pause and feel good with the world. The streets of Eagle Junction were quiet and mostly empty, occasionally a child’s voice could be heard or some distant chatter from the neighbour’s radio three doors down. All the Sunday mowers had long since been retired for the day, their drivers resting in the shade with a cold ale and contentment.

She and I were resting. Lazing. Relaxing. It was a peaceful time and did not often occur in the days of raising a young family. For all our struggles and battles, for we had many, it was a moment as I remember where all else was put aside. There was no conversation. Simply two people lying side by side, resting.

I recall feeling at the time, that if that moment could somehow be extended and built on, it might mean our marriage could improve and regain some stability and balance. It was even possible to pretend that it had always been so.

She rolled over and asked me where our youngest son had got to. I said I wasn’t sure but I thought he was across the road playing with some friends. She said she was worried and asked if I would go and check. I said it would be OK to leave it for a while and I would go check a little later. I was not ready for the moment we were sharing to end. She said she was worried and I said she needn’t. All was OK.

Before I knew it, the next few exchanges had gone from mere conversation to accusation. She became very concerned about his safety. I could not see any reason for this as he often played across the road with friends. It was a quiet street with many families with young children like ours. She accused me of not caring for his safety. For being a negligent father, for always resisting doing what she requested, and on it went.

I became incredulous and deeply disturbed that in such a short time our peaceful, everything is OK with the world afternoon, had been shattered. As it turned out before I could get half way down the stairs and up the street to look for him, he had decided to come back from playing with his friends. He must have wondered why his parents were shouting at each other again. And I can only imagine how heavy his heart grew with this. My heart aches even now, some 15 years later when I think of it.

My judgment about her then and until very recently was that she had catastrophised and wrecked a perfectly beautiful moment and that this was typical of the way our marriage had gone right up till the time we separated. Which occurred some 18 months after this particular day.

I have always acknowledged my part in our marriage failure but until recently had never quite understood the occurrence of events such as the one I describe. And I have always judged her for it. I have judged her for her anger, for her rage, for the moments where in an instant she would turn form loving wife to hateful accuser. I have judged her and in some way judged myself for being the cause of this behaviour.

I judged her until yesterday.

In a teary and honest phone call she informed me that as a young girl she had been sexually abused. She was attending counseling and felt she had lifted an enormous burden by naming it and sharing it with her children and now me. She felt free. However she felt great pain and regret for past events.

I explained to her that from my point of view the past must be let go and that our work in the here and now is to look at everything with love and understanding. The past is useful to us now if we see the benefits of the journey and the benefits of the learning, no matter how painful they might be. Our focus now was to work with love and let go all else. She was grateful for my words and I was grateful for hers.

The information she shared put a lot into perspective. It helped me understand many things. With this knowledge and as I reflect on that Sunday in September something is different. I don’t hear a nagging, overly stressed wife berating me. I hear a little girl, terrified that harm will come to the little boy just as it had come to her. She doesn’t know exactly where he is so she panics, she imagines the worst. She can’t share this of course because as an adult she probably does not know shy she is worried. The little girl inside her is terrified.

Had I known, what might I have done with this understanding and insight? How differently might I have reacted? How much less defensive and self righteous might I have been? At the time I could only see the manifested behaviour and judged her for it. Knowing what I now know I can piece together possible causes for this event and others that occurred. And I can see that some of her actions were informed by deeply enmeshed and subconscious fears.

With this insight and reflection I look to myself. I look to others around me.

How often do I judge a person for their behaviour? How often do I make these judgments of another? When might I alter my perspective to simply judge the behaviour and seek more to understand the person? Is it possible to understand the person, to simply love the person and separate them from their behaviour? Perhaps the simple answer is to do this through the love of oneself and the love of others. And to understand that the cause of disruptive and destructive behaviours can never be healed by judgment.

With the benefit of hindsight and a little insight what might I say now to the little girl who panicked? “Sure hon I’ll go and check on him and when I come back after finding him let’s go back to that lovely rest we were sharing.”

 

 

Half of Australia’s workers would rather quit than…

Half of Australia’s workers would rather quit than deal with workplace issues.

Acts of social inclusion

As primarily social beings, when we spend time together; our brains wire together and our bodies step, hearts beat and lungs breathe in similar rhythms; mirror neurons in our brains engage. As author Daniel Goleman so aptly states: ‘when we wire together we fire together’.

As social and neurological beings, when we feel: included, accepted, appreciated, respected, regarded, thanked, welcomed, remembered, noticed, asked or celebrated our brains generate ‘happy’ chemicals and we feel good. Actually we feel great.

In addition; we think well, we’re more likely to be creative and innovative, to be productive and effective, and to be optimistic and happy. We’re also more likely to engage well with one another, collaborate, solve problems together, trust each other, manage conflict in a productive way and have really good conversations.

If you agree that this is generally true for you and you acknowledge how you feel when you experience any of the acts of social inclusion just mentioned; you’d possibly also agree that the following question is an important one to ask.

Would paying more attention, spending more time and/or placing more value on acts of social of inclusion be of benefit to your family, your team, your community or your organisation?

For most of the answer is most probably, yes.

Understanding the impact of this benefit and being able to engage in actions that create it is one of the most important functions that any of us interested or invested in social wellbeing and leadership can undertake.

The intent to work more often with acts of social inclusion, emanates from a generative motivation.

Investing in relationships in such a way fosters shared understanding, mutual respect and connectedness. When this occurs we know where the other is coming from and we recognise their intention.

Observing as Audience

Whatever it is that stops us in our tracks matters less than what we are being asked to notice. Whether it be malady, loss, impasse, disturbance or discontent, our emotional system is the indicator that data exists for us to decipher. To be able to examine the data we need to move into the role of observer. This capacity illustrates that it is possible to be both the experiencer and the observer of our own life.

To be one without the other may create a singularity of self absorption or cold detachment. However, when held together a balance point occurs: To experience – I am part of, and, To observe – I am separate from. This balance point enables movement between the two states, thereby acting as an enabler of conscious choice.

Conscious choice is alchemised in the crucible of purposeful attention. It arises from the process of separation. Through an observant eye, experience is observed thereby allowing the experiencer to separate from the experience and become the observer. Once observed the experience itself can be: held, considered, turned through perspectives, evaluated, tested for meaning, relevance and usefulness. Hence the pattern of the experience is revealed.

We think and behave in patterns. The human brain is a pattern making instrument. Neurologically everything that exists in memory is a pattern. That which is learned becomes a pattern. In some cases our patterns have run so long and so deep that we have become blind to them. The thing that stops us in our tracks, sometimes felt as an emotional ‘derailment’, or ‘ailment’ can act as the inciting incident that eventually causes us to discover the unseen pattern.

The benefit of such an experience is that it can catalyse an exploration of self enquiry that leads to the discovery of patterns of thinking or behaving that have hitherto gone unobserved. This is referred to as a ‘blind spot’. Our emotional system acts as an indicator of blind spots, particularly when we repeatedly experience emotions that we do not enjoy. These emotions accompany the story: ‘I am unhappy’, or ‘I am unwell’, or even ‘I am a failure’.

The benefit that derailment offers us, cannot be explored while we remain locked into the pain of: defeated expectations, beliefs, rules, or judgements that no longer serve us. The first movement that will offer respite and facilitate the ability to observe ourselves is to practice acceptance of what is happening. If we remain in non-acceptance of what we are experiencing we remain stuck within our patterns. Unable to separate from them, we experience emotions of non-acceptance such as: resentment, resignation and depression. Achieving acceptance ultimately brings relief and a deeper state of peace.

To ask ‘Why is the pattern happening?’ is not as useful as ‘What is the pattern I need to see?’. When we ask ‘why’ we are seeking to find the answer from within the pattern and the answer remains elusive. The ‘what’ question invites us to sit outside the pattern. To watch, reflect and learn. To watch and separate from the pattern allows new data to emerge.  With new data and new perspectives we move to insight. These ‘aha’ moments set us free. We see with clarity the pattern that our habitual, experiential selves had not allowed us to witness.

Once seen and evaluated the old pattern can fall away and a new pattern can emerge; one that is more consciously and deliberately developed. To find the element of conscious choice we sit at the balance point between being the experiencer and the observer. It is possible to move between them and embrace both simultaneously. By practicing acceptance of what is happening we are ready to evaluate what is useful and what is not. Whatever it is that stops us in our tracks matters less than what we are being asked to notice.

Martin Challis © 2011

Applied Theatre and the Story of Axel

On reading Plato’s dialogues I came across this forward by W.H.D Rouse:

Socrates himself described his object as that of a midwife, to bring other men’s thoughts to birth, to stimulate them to think and to criticise themselves, not to instruct them.”

More and more I see the power of non-didactic learning through forms of applied theatre – how through dialogue, metaphor and the creation of a fictional world we facilitate the transposition of an actual world and interweave it with the consideration of new perspectives, alternate possibilities and trialed scenarios. In Applied Theatre we separate or distance ourselves from the everyday and fictionalise the characters and the world we inhabit.

Whether they be scenes, monologues, interviews or soliloquies I relate to the scenarios that are being played before me because I see others and myself with new eyes. My learning and growth are enabled by my capacity to discover myself through observation and reflection. I separate myself from conditioned patterns in order to integrate new perspectives. By engaging in this form of theatre I become more whole.

Axel

Axel, who never had a rocking horse, once rode a bright blue tricycle. He called it his ‘Athenian Rhapsody’. He loved to play the tuba in bed, and when he was feeling particularly happy, would sit on the loo in the outside shed, pants around his ankles oompa-pa’ing till the cows came home.

That was quite a while ago; the tuba and the tricycle have gone, yet he can still hear the triangle sound the bell made on his tricycle, and still remembers the scraping of the old keys on the ancient tuba.

Axel listens to old sounds very well (all the time): he loves Bach, Mendelssohn and Donovan. He loves to eat crumpets with honey and drink a large white mug of milky tea; it reminds him of summer fishing trips to Lake Eucumbine, mushrooms and gnats in the full-sun morning air, (he loves to talk fishing when he’s playing chess with Carl the orderly, often quoting from his favourite magazine, ‘Modern Fly Fishing’).

Axel was once an expert at fly fishing; tying the ‘super moonshadow’ to perfection (he named the fly after what he thought was a Donovan song, written by Cat Stevens).

When the hospital staff remember to buy him a new box, Axel loves to drink Lady Grey tea made from tea bags, he prefers tea bags, he feels that somehow they bring clearer definition to tea making.

Axel thinks a lot about definition, noting how the edges of his bed are very clearly defined by the clean-blue hospital blankets that drop suddenly to the ocean of the grey linoleum floor. He likes the smell of cleanblue, it’s somehow a new sea to sail and sometimes the feel of his favourite jumper when he was a boy: a definite edge of beginning and end. He knows that soon he’ll cross the floor-grey ocean, sailing under a white sheet. But this is not a thing Axel dwells on for very long, he prefers to think of such things as his next chess move and flirting with Miriam the night nurse.

Axel has just beaten Carl in a game of chess. He’s said goodnight to Miriam, a long quiet goodnight, a good long, good night. He won’t wake again, he senses this  –  and is peaceful.

When his last breath comes he hears; a faint scraping sound and a single precious note from a triangle bell on a bright blue tricycle.

They’re good sounds.

They are old sounds.

They bring him…

Theatre – The Shared Experience

Sitting on the bleachers. 8 rows back. Five minutes into the game something unusual happens. The home team receives the ball behind the 22; they’re under territorial pressure and the opponents have the ascendancy. The usual pattern of play is to kick the ball behind the opposition’s line in order to gain ground, then run forward, receive the return kick and continue this way until one team kicks for the touchline. It’s tactical, and one could argue, the ‘correct’ way to play, but for spectators it becomes deadly boring, uninspiring and disheartening.

But today they’re not playing ‘usual’; they’re playing for ‘keeps’. The home team; the Reds; run the ball. A murmur ripples through the crowd. “They’re running it, they’re keeping possession.” The crowd hasn’t seen this style of play for a very long time; perhaps the younger ones have never seen it.

At the breakdown, support players pour in and the ball is retained, they go again into a new phase of play and another breakdown. The Reds retain possession again and again as phase after phase of play they grind their way back into the opponents territory. This is thrilling stuff. It’s a hard way to play. The opposition team, the Bulls; determined men from South Africa; where success in Rugby is valued currency, provide relentless defense. The game continues this way, and for 80 minutes we witness one of the toughest and most courageous displays of rugby ever played.

I’m attending the game with three of my four sons and their friends. It’s my second son’s birthday. I look over to Daniel and attempt to call above the crowd, at that moment they’re yelling abuse at the referee; in their opinion the ref has made an unbelievably stupid decision; “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit” they deride in unison. I make the attempt again and shout out: ‘this is brilliant stuff – what a great birthday present’. Daniel grins back and nods. Father and sons; we’re having a great time. Can you script this stuff? I think to myself.

The ingredients are all here. A great story is unfolding. The Reds; my team (please excuse the use of the possessive pronoun, passion and history require it) are the underdogs. They’ve been in decline for nearly a decade. It’s been a miserable time for Red’s supporters. The Bulls are the top team. The referee is making shocking decisions in the Bull’s favour. There are flashes of brilliance on both sides. The game seesaws, teetering on the brink of devastation and elation. Nothing is certain. Spectators are treated to rugged ‘keep possession at all costs’ play from the Reds. The Bulls begin to make uncharacteristic mistakes, but then regain composure.

The game continues this way. Both teams have points on the board. The Reds remain ahead by 7 (the total number of points of a converted try). Its ten minutes to go before full time and the Reds are keeping the Bulls out, only metres from their line. I’m sweating and yelling, the boys are sweating and yelling, the crowd is sweating and chanting. ‘Come on You Reds’. It’s tense. The Reds deserve to win. They’ve dared to do something out of the ordinary. Hard pressed the Bull’s supporters would concede this fact. But no one is giving ground today.

And then at last: with the final whistle – there is jubilation in our voices and in our hearts. The underdog has prevailed and ten years of dejection vanishes in a heartbeat. We roar, we hug, we parade – we share a moment that will be long lasting in our regaling and our celebration.

This was great theatre: unscripted sport for the masses. A story my boys and I will well remember.

But is this audacious to call it great theatre: to compare events on the sporting field to scripted masterpieces of our time? Similar ingredients exist, yet there are the obvious differences including the absence of verisimilitude. Perhaps it is the appeal of the prevailing metaphor of: heroic struggle, display of courage, and daring in the face of adversity: a theme common in human history. Perhaps it is about the joy of bearing witness to it and the shared experience of uncertainty and triumph. Perhaps it doesn’t matter if the term is used loosely.  However I can’t help consider the possibility that similar experiences await me in a different arena. Could it be that one day I will take my kin to the Theatre and together we will be exhilarated by the story that unfolds? Will we chant and cheer in the bleachers and go home with soaring hearts and aching sides? Will we say? We have been to the Theatre and it was extraordinary.

Artistry as Capital

How do we begin to see our Artistry as Capital? How do we locate ourselves as artists in a global economy? What are some considerations for reframing or re-purposing our skill sets in order to survive the changing nature of the world market?

Firstly, we need to set aside traditional structures where art making has existing commercial value such as the film and television industry. We also need to fully consider the growing importance and valuing of artistic practice and artistic thinking as we leave the Information Age and enter the Conceptual Age where creators, innovators and empathisers are pre-eminent.

Acknowledging the shift occurring in business practice across the globe over the last ten to fifteen years, we see the advancing trend of many companies outsourcing and relocating production to countries such as India, China and Russia. In nearly all cases the motivating reason is to cut costs through significant reductions in labour and infrastructure. Any high volume and high demand product or service that can be automated is a potential candidate.

With continuing advances in information technology and more and more large corporations moving sites of production off-shore, the global market in a sense is both expanding and contracting. It is now possible to operate an enterprise at a local level and reach customers and clients world wide. Now more than ever before in history is it possible to live locally and act globally.

Automation of products and services continues to expand into countries around the globe. In order to secure their future, local entrepreneurs must look to products and services that are not so easily automated. While it is possible to print and publish a book in China for example, it is not yet possible to automate the content creation of that book. Creative knowledge is creative capital.

How much as artists do we value and appreciate our role in the global economy? How much are we prepared to think outside the square when it comes to developing and re-purposing our artistic and creative talents? How narrow or broad are our assumptions about our practice and sites of practice?

As an emerging artist in the 1980’s I saw my role clearly defined. I knew that my sites of practice were film, television and theatre. I knew I needed to get an agent and manager to represent me and I knew I needed to attend every possible audition that came my way in the hope of landing a role. I worked casual jobs to pay the rent, I waited for the phone to ring, I attended auditions and now and again I got a job.

Twenty five years later most of the emerging artists and practicing artists I know are still doing the same thing. A handful have been successful enough not to have to wait tables but essentially it is the same. Of course there are one or two exceptions. There are those that have formed their own film or theatre companies, created their own products, taken self written and self funded projects to festivals around the world. Essentially they have managed to create locally and act globally. Emerging artists Matt Zeremes and Oliver Torr’s work on their film Burke and Wills taken to Tribeca Film Festival in New York (q.v.) provides a clear example of an artist’s ability to think outside the square (in terms of standard forms of production and funding), create locally and enter a global context. These artists (actors) represent the exception and not the norm and this is one small example inside one field of artistic practice (acting).

Thinking globally is one of the elements supporting the development of Artistry as Capital. In addition to the vagaries and impacts of an expanding global economy are the increasing pressures on business remaining competitive and viable through innovation and creativity. There is also an increasing demand to create workplaces of flow and synergy where employees are respected, valued and encouraged to contribute. Creating a sense of well-being and building strong work-life balance is now seen as sound investment. It is no longer about getting the most from the least. Best business practice is centred around the creation of sustainable ‘family values’ in the workplace as opposed to more reductive work-ethic based practises of the past.

The need for creative thinking coupled with a growing recognition of the need for increasing abilities of emotional and social intelligence in communication and business practices is evidenced at all corporate levels. As leaders and managers develop and keep up to date with the technical and managerial idiosyncrasies of running a business they must also stay abreast of the growing demands of employees to secure work environments that support their health and well-being, creativity and their sense of belonging. To be creative, business must foster creativity. To excel at client and customer communication, business must foster and enhance creative communication practices. To create, maintain and sustain creative thinking and harness collective wisdom, business must develop and embed skills such as empathy, reciprocity, encouragement and thereby create a sense of belonging.

In short, the business world (it may not be fully conscious of this yet) is calling out to the world of the arts for inspiration and involvement. And in this sense our Artistry is Capital. Directly applied we can see many of these creative industries existing now: journalism, fashion, theatre, communication design, creative writing, visual arts, to name a few. Indirectly, many more creative opportunities exist for artists who are prepared to offer their artistic talents and/or re-purpose them for business. The way the world of psychology entered the sporting world is one representation of this, no sports team in the world worth their salt would consider not having a team psychologist. Whereas 10 or 15 years ago that would not have been the case.

The question arises: how many of us as artists have looked at the business world and simply not understood it or wanted to understand it? Have we played our part in maintaining a gap between the arts and what we consider to be the dry world of pragmatism, balance sheets and the bottom line? What would it take to build a bridge between the two? Of course we are talking about much more than arts companies seeking subsidies from established law and architectural firms.

As our societies move out of the Information Age, artists who are ready to move into the Conceptual Age will see expanding opportunities to apply their artistry to enhance and support innovation, creativity, communication and social networks. The arts will no doubt always have their traditional sites of practice. However as artists continue to evolve their various forms of practice they will increasingly enter the global economy building bridges between the arts and business communities where deep and fulfilling symbiosis will nourish and sustain both artistic and business practice.

© 2017 martin challis

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