Category Archives: Art

Struggling Arts Hits Home

"Did we blow something up?"

mda: As we all know, these economic times have been quite hard for the arts as orchestras declare bankruptcy, funding dries up and schools end arts education which is killing the future supporters.  Yes, this may become somewhat of a doom-and-gloom post, but we feel it is still important to discuss.  It may not be a new discussion out there, but RBD and I now have first-hand knowledge of how it is as we both find ourselves without employment at this time.  Now I know I can say this for both of us: we are not bitter about losing our positions.  It happens and we must move on and we will grow from it.  Plus, I know both of us are quite intelligent and we will find bigger and better opportunities very soon.  So let’s start a discussion here, why don’t I let RBD start it off.

RBD:Yes, there are lots of people out there that have lost their jobs and we join a rather large segment of the population who are looking for jobs. However, being in the arts, the jobs we are looking for you won’t find in the

Connections are important. Don't burn bridges...

paper, or job boards on the internet. Being in the arts gives us unique connections where we can begin looking for new employment. As this discussion takes shape, our journeys will differ as I have a foot in the ‘industry’ side of the arts and another foot in the ‘performance’ side. As we document our different (and yet similar) paths, we hope that other people can learn from our failures and our successes. (emphasis on SUCCESSES!) So, mda, what have you been doing to find new employment?

Mind your CV

mda:Well I must say the most important thing that has been beneficial is the connections I have made in the Indy arts scene over the past 6 years or so.  The most beneficial aspect has been talking with those connections and keeping my ear to the ground for any positions that may arise.  As RBD mentioned, my journey is a little

Have we mentioned that Connections are important? They are!!

different as I find myself more on the ‘industry’ side as my performing career is not as extensive as my compatriot.  So the most important thing I have found as my search continues is to create a well-written cover letter, know your material and be able to speak properly and knowledgeable.  Now that might sound like easy things to do or ‘no-brainers,’ but I do believe people don’t really pay attention to the details.  Details is what can separate you from the competition.  It’s true…deal with it the right way!  How about you, RBD?  What do you think about the connections you have made and how has that helped with the performance side?

RBD: Compatriot? Well, okay, I’ll accept that. Yes, mda, details and words matter and they are important. Don’t forget that. To answer your question about connections, I would have to say that, YES, connections are very, very important. When we were ‘let go’ from our illustrious record label positions, I immediately had a beer, then played a gig later that night. Soon there-after, I created a list of people I have played/worked for in the past and people I have gotten to know through the job I had just lost. My list ended up being around 45 people long. I called and/or emailed almost all of them in the first week and have heard some very positive responses. The one things I haven’t done yet is to create a couple versions of my resume and create a CV (kind of a long-form resume). I have a nice resume now for performance, but not the business/industry side of things. I think now is the perfect time to (for me at least) to set a goal, maybe even an outlandish goal, but really set up a clear and functional direction I want to take for the future. This is what I believe right now: I don’t want to take any job, just to take a job. I also don’t believe there is a ‘perfect job’, ‘out there’, ‘waiting for me’, like some golden goat waiting to be milked. This is the perfect opportunity to reset and figure out what will ultimately make me happy in the long run. Am I being too selfish? Is this even possible? What do you think mda?

mda: I think you are on to something there, my friend.  We are both “at that age” where it is nice to think of stability (whatever that really means) and not just settling on a ‘job’ certainly doesn’t allow for that stability.  It really is about happiness at the same time.  However, unfortunately it is also about paying the bills and paying for the outlandish gas prices right now.  There is that fine line one must walk to make sure they do not find themselves in trouble.  However, that being said, I do not believe either of us will fall in that.  The thing about resume/CV that I have found interesting throughout this process has been things I have done in the past that I either forgot about or did not look at it as ‘worthy to mention’ until my friends and colleagues looked at my material and showed me my mistakes.  So Rule Number ‘Whatever Number We Are On Right Now’: show your material to as many people as you can before you submit.  They almost always will see something differently than you and it will ultimately help you out.

RBD: Yeah, never underestimate the power and knowledge of your friends in and out of your professional area. It’s easy to get dark at a time like this and no potential employer wants to hire a dark/depressed person. We both have to be upbeat and positive and know that we are a valuable asset to any future place of employment. What do you see, mda, as a rule about what to put on a resume and how to word it? Let’s take for an example your occasional co-guest-hosting of my radio show ‘Have You Heard’? How do you make that sound as best as it can be?

mda:  Well, I talk to the actual host and see how he would like me to word everything.  But I remember when we were discussing this, it became more of a conversation and we mutually came up with the correct wording of how to describe the show.  One thing that came up that we didn’t remember beforehand was the fact that there are interviews with national and international musicians on the show.  This was and important fact that obviously may present the show in a different light than saying it is just a local radio show.  You know what I mean?  I remember while I was working on my resume/CV, another friend felt it might be better to display a certain committee work I have had in the past as a separate area than placing it in my ‘Additional Experience’ section.  I didn’t even think of that, but it certainly makes sense.  Again, it’s the finer details…

Aldi is Awesome!

RBD: Yes, it’s the finer details that matter. Details matter. Words matter. The correct definition of words matter and the correct speling of words matter too. My advice to myself, you and anybody out there looking for a job is this: Create a community of people in your field, don’t be ashamed to tell them of your predicament, have them review your resume/CV and never give up. Also, start shopping at Aldi‘s, get another roommate and find out when and where the beer/drink specials are. You can thank me later.

mda: Hey, buddy….check your spelling.


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Some frustrated thoughts

Recently I attended a GREAT lecture/discussion at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, ‘A Discussion with Artists: Courage to Pursue the Arts’. I loved the discussion and even jotted down some notes that you can read in my previous blog HERE.

These, however are thoughts outside of the event that I wanted to voice to see if anybody shared my opinion and frustrations. Here they are:

1.     How is it that I didn’t know about this talk until the day of the event? In fact, I found out about this event a few hours before hand. I subscribe to EVERY DAMN ART LIST IN THIS CITY, and I don’t find out that my mentor, my friend, my favorite person David Baker was talking until a few hours before? Really!!??? Come on people! Help me out here! Send out a PR, send an email, post something on your Facebook wall, get this info OUT THERE!!!!

2.     The second thing that I was bothered by was the fact that the microphones didn’t work. The panel was all outfitted with wireless clip-on mics and NONE OF THEM WORKED! The talk was only and hour long. 25% of that time was spent with the staff of the IMA figuring out the sound so that the audience could hear. An incredible waste of time that the audience had to endure.  I felt it was also disrespectful of the very patient panel that was assembled to address the audience!

3.     And now that I mentioned the audience, I’d like to comment on the audience. Why do people show up late to events? Why do people not turn off their cellphones at events? Why do people with babies bring them to quiet events and not sit by the doors, but instead ‘shush’ their children louder than the child is squeaking? This I don’t understand. Being a civil person, I didn’t say anything, but really I was rather distracted.

I just don’t get these things. Help me out here? What gives people?


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Lecture on Courage: MLK 2011

On January 17th, 2011 I went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to listen to ‘A Conversation with Artists: Courage to Pursue the Arts’, featuring artist Willis “Bing” Davis, author Mari Evans and my mentor David N. Baker. The talk was moderated by Modupe Labode.

First the panelists:

Willis “Bing” Davis is a contemporary artist and educator. He is currently the President of the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Artists. Art to David “is a wonderful way to understand self and to understand others.”

Mari Evans is a poet, author, orator and educator. Her career includes teaching literature at Marion College, Washington University at Sait Louis, State-University of New York, and Cornell University.

David N. Baker is a jazz musician, composer and conductor. He studied music and education at Indiana University where he received a Masers of Music Education. Dr. Baker has served on multiple boards, panels and has received numerous awards for his work including serving as a senior consultant for music programs at the Smithsonian.

The talk was all about courage. The panelists all grew up before the Civil Rights movement and were beginning their illustrious careers during the 60s.  The talk also occurred on the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. Many of the questions circled around the idea of courage, being courageous and teaching courage. The panelists were all inspiring and had great stories to tell. I felt invigorated and yet still somewhat ashamed of my acceptance of the way things are instead of challenging and changing my surroundings. Below are some of the thought provoking quotes I was able to jot down during the session:

Dr. David Baker

Dr. David Baker, Distinguished Professor of Music

David Baker:

I can outwork your talent.

Question Everything

One thing you can’t change is the fact you are a human being. If you aren’t’ a good human being, everything else is greatly diminished.

Mari Evans:

Poet, Author, Orator, Mari Evans

The only obstacle I ever faced was my own ignorance.

Facts have meaning when they are attached to other facts.

Don’t say: How do I become famous. Instead say, how do I reach excellence.

Artist, Lecturer, Willis "Bing" Davis

Willis “Bing” Davis:

Ask yourself ‘Who am I?’

Give back what you’ve been given.

You may travel the world, but keep dust on your shoes.


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Money For Nothing…

Money bags!

The RBI blog has unfortunately not been very active as of late.  Our apologies.  Do we have a good excuse?  Not really, so we will just move straight in to the topic of today.  And that topic?  City money and where it is being spent. What’s the Dire Straits song?  ‘Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.’  Well that is what has pretty much happened in Indy…

As many Indianapolis residents know the city and state has had major cutbacks in various areas, including cutting the arts budget by 50%.  Now I understand the need to cut back certain areas to save money.  In these trying times, everyone needs to ‘tighten their belts’ and ride the wave through the mess that has been created.  However, why should the education and the arts suffer so greatly in the city when others are allowed to prosper with government funding when they obviously don’t need it.  What am I talking about?  Read this July 12 article from the Indy Star.

This is something that really doesn’t make sense to me.  I am a fan of many sports, as RBD is.  However, how can the city really afford to give the Indiana Pacers $33.5 million dollars for the next 3 years to keep them in the city?  The Indiana Pacers, which is owned by a billionaire; plays in a building that was built for them with taxpayer money and they pay no rent; and they also keep part of the revenue for non-Pacers related programs and shows that happen at Conseco Fieldhouse.  Could that $33.5 million have been spent a better way?  YES!  One of the reasons given by the local government is that the Pacers bring in revenue with their home games and present Indianapolis as a destination spot for businesses and vacationers because it shows Indy as a city with multiple professional sports attractions.  Yes that may be true and I am sure it does help the downtown scene.  But, do you know what else would make Indianapolis an attractive destination spot and revitalize the area?  That’s right….the Arts.

Could you imagine what could have been accomplished if that 33.5 million was put aside to fund current and new arts programs, green initiatives and education of our youth in Indy?  This city would absolutely transform to one of best cities in the region, if not the nation.  This is the truth!  So why couldn’t this money be used in better ways.  The owner of the Pacers has money to use and spend on his team.  Why does he need a bailout from the city?  We should be supporting our artists, dancers and musicians to create something beautiful and worthwhile.  Look what local and/or government support has done for other cities that is close in size to Indianapolis: Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the list could continue.  They are generally listed as some of the best places to live for a reason….and I believe a lot of it is because each city gives their support for the Arts.  They understand for a city to continue to grow and become a destination, it needs an identity.  That identity should be something that expands the mind (the Arts) and not just a professional sports team that continues to struggle each and every year.

Just a thought.  What do you guys think?  Am I looking at this completely wrong?  Give us your comments and let’s start a discussion!


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Filed under Art, Marketing-Publicity-Getting the Word Out, New Music/Ideas

Indy First Friday Jan 5, 2010

So before I left with RBD for Spring Training 2010, I had the pleasure to enjoy the IDADA First Friday in the Fountain Square area of downtown Indianapolis.  For those not in the know, First Friday is an art tour featuring the general public to enjoy galleries, open studios, alternative spaces and much more for free.  It truly is a premiere cultural event for Indianapolis as it connects the burdgeoning arts scene to introduce itself with Indy.  Obviously one can gather from the name that the event happens the first Friday of each month.  If you have never experiences this type of art tour, please do so each and every month.

So this past Friday, I met up with a new friend AB to tour the Murphy Art Center and the variety of art spaces and galleries in the building.  I must say it was a wonderful time.  The artwork was all top-notch and it is great to see such a large variety of people enjoying art.  Probably one of my favorite galleries was the Kathryn Refi exhibition from iMOCA.  Her vision of how to display her life experiences in different mediums was very touching and quite thought provoking.  I believe it also helped having a great continuing conversation with AB throughout the evening.

Day 3, Kathryn Refi

I will make this a short post, but believe me I could continue discussing the artwork as everything was of the highest artistic caliber.  It is great to see Indianapolis have such a strong, yet still fairly unknown, arts scene.  The culture of Indy has a strong underground movement that its citizens should be very proud of having in this fine city.  Let’s continue supporting the arts in Indy!


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