By Gabriela Gutierrez
Students and professional artists came together for the Going Pro Career Fair on Saturday having multiple-unfiltered discussions about all-things arts related.
All discussions began with the introduction of both moderators and panelists in the form of a visual description of themselves, their outfits and the physical areas they were in. They also said the name of the land they were occupying in order to honor the stolen lands of the indigenous peoples and Native American tribes that resided in the United States of America before.
The fair consisted of three primary live discussions between artists and audiences along with 20-minute-live sessions for students who wished to have more personalized advice.
The live discussions were:
•You’ve Graduated: Now What? Navigating Your Creative Career.
•Master of All: Becoming an Intentional Multi-Hyphenate.
•I Quit: What We Can Learn from the Great Resignation.
Although all discussions touched on slightly different topics, they all resonated with one another on the importance of technology in the world of theater.
“Right now, we’ve seen the theater have a huge shift in the way that we present our work. The digital space became a platform. It became an alternative venue for us,” Sammy Lopez said.
During the “You’ve Graduated” discussion, speakers Socks Whitmore and Armando Huipe said what their personal experiences were like navigating through the world of theater arts during and after graduating from college.
Whitmore said burnout was a huge problem throughout college and that time-management and self-care became a priority post-graduation.
“I was doing all of these things all the time. I don’t regret that, but especially because I graduated right at the start of the pandemic. That set me up for massive burnout. So one of the things that became a massive pivot for me, immediately post-graduation, was how to manage my time,” Whitmore said.
Whitmore said there were no personal regrets during and after college career-wise.
“Even when I do projects that don’t come to fruition, that are not the most pleasant collaborative experience, that I’m not happy with the end product, I don’t feel like there’s a lot of things where I’d [say] ‘I wish I never did that’ because I feel like [I learned from those things],” Whitmore said.
Huipe said that he sees the future of theater arts being forced to address the issue of climate change.
“I think that the field will have to reckon with the climate crisis. I think that is headed our way,” Huipe said.
Whitmore and Huipe had advice for members of the audience.
“Art is one of the few jobs, right now in this world, that humans were truly meant to be doing. Credit scores weren’t part of the plan, that got made up somewhere along the lines. But art has always been a part of who we are.
So if you’ve decided that that’s what you want to do with your life, that’s an incredibly worthwhile purpose. Don’t doubt for a second that it means something,” Whitmore said.
Huipe said the industry is under-resourced and undervalued. Due to this it is a difficult path, but that reminding one-self of the beauty in art during tough times is important.
The “Master of All” discussion went into depth about the experiences of multi-hyphenates. Panelists Pia Shah and Howard Ho both said there are pros and cons of being multi-hyphenates.
Shah said she had to learn to acknowledge her worth in the world of arts and theater as an actress with considerably less experience than others who have more in their repertoire.
She said as an actress, she was asked to write a play and she felt she didn’t have the experience for it but went for it anyway.
“Just because I haven’t submitted to festival after festival for playwriting and I’ve been focused on other types of expression, doesn’t mean that a play that I write can’t be great. It might be one time. It doesn’t have to be like ‘and now I’m a playwright and I’m going to be writing plays for the rest of my life,” Shah said.
Both Shah and Ho said they used the strategies that have helped them across the board for all of the careers they do.
Shah said finding new multi-hyphenates is essential to her learning because no two paths are the same.
“Keep a notebook or a Google doc of all these ideas. Eventually you’re gonna have a ton of stuff and [say] ‘This is an entire play. All these ideas now, I can put them into a play. I can put them into a book. I can write a poem and make a collection of poems,’” Ho said.
Ho said that as a multi-hyphenate it can be tough for others to understand that he can do more than one thing. He said it can also be tough to say no to certain projects that don’t necessarily align with what he’s doing sometimes.
“It’s not about you, you can do everything, but other people only want to pigeon-hole you. So you kind of have to train them, in a way, to see you in that multi-hyphenate glory. Sometimes that means saying no,” Ho said.
For the final discussion, speakers Garlia Cornelia Jones and Sam Morreale said the act of quitting had affected their lives during those times.
“I think that saying ‘I quit’ was certainly a great resignation moment for that small thing. It was saying ‘You know what? This isn’t for me anymore. I’ll be okay. That extra three/four hundred bucks a month, I’ll find it somewhere else or I won’t do this or my kids won’t have that, but my self-respect will stay intact,’” Jones said.
Morreale said many artists are underpaid and undervalued. He said reality has affected him as an artist himself. He also sees the lack of fair pay as a propellor for the great resignation. The great resignation has had 48 million people quit their jobs, for a variety of reasons.
“When you donate to institutions you can say how you want those funds to be used. Even as a single donor. Even if it’s 25 bucks that you are offering to an institution, you are allowed to say ‘I want this to go to x, y, and z,’” Morreale said.