Roles and routines of creative people

by Jini Stolk

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (which has been blessed throughout its history by skilled and talented AD’s, matched by courageous and accomplished managing directors and board chairs) described the Artistic Director’s role in their terrific 35 Years Anniversary program. “Ideally, a theatre’s artistic director strives always to strike a balance of risk and reward, challenge and celebration, prudence and provocation. It is the artistic director’s duty to keep the financial wolves from the door, certainly, but also to be the artistic, philosophic and political engine that drives an institution forward.”

This brief insight has been helpful in defining the overlapping but separate responsibilities of arts organizations’ artistic, management and board leaders in The Art of Good Governance, my recent workshop for arts board members, presented by the Toronto Arts Foundation and Business for the Arts.

Offering some comfort to board members confronted with the often unfamiliar task of understanding the thought processes and working practices of their companies’ artistic directors – in order to embrace, while helping to carefully plan for, risk and challenge – is this fascinating interactive graphic based on Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. It details, with real details!, how some of the world’s greatest creative geniuses balanced their need for creative work with sleep, exercise, earning a living, eating and leisure.

How did Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, W.H. Auden, Beethoven, Maya Angelou, Sigmund Freud, and Vladimir Nabokov structure their days? (And I do wish there were more women on the list.) It turns out that the common denominator is the need for structure, however individual or idiosyncratic.

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

“I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” CHARLES DICKENS

“I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.” HARUKI MURAKAMI

As I’ve said before in different circumstances, artists are some of the hardest working, most disciplined people I know. Isn’t there an awful lot we can learn from them? and aren’t we thankful for the joys they bring to our lives, in this and all seasons?

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