365 And Doing Fine: An Artist Reflects #3

I turned thirty. Ahhhhhh, I’m thirty. And thriving. 

Everyone told me I should have taken the day off to celebrate. I disagreed. I have the best job in the world and I wanted to work. (Part of me feels like I should tell you that I needed to work to pay my bills, but give me this one. It was my birthday.) It was a long day, filled with so much inspiration. Mentoring with Ardith. Lunch with my Que faire d’Albert? co-star Alphonse. Meeting with the Manitoba Arts Council. And then, to top off the night, watching a reading of The Chinese Lady by 180 Reads together-but-separately with my friends. 

Following my birthday, I was lucky to be granted space at TPM’s Chautauqua week. Every morning we checked in and gave each other writing prompts. At the end of the week, we celebrated with cocktails and parlour games. It was truly inspirational to be in the same room with so many artists that I’d admired from afar. (Sup, Emily and Tanner.) To end the week, I had my first meeting with Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and discussed my festival piece for Decolonize Your Ears. She said she enjoyed reading it. Cue: tears of joy, and a lot of positive swearing. Thirty is pretty damn cool so far. 

It’s February now, and among many other things I’m continuing my Creative Manitoba Mentorship with our esteemed Artistic Director.  We had a moment today where we questioned whether or not we actually completed our mandatory five hours of mentoring last month, and I think a part of that confusion is because we’re always working on things together-but-separately (as is the theme these days) and I’m always flitting off to do more personal development. Ardith likes to say, “Joanne is taking her own Personal Development Masterclass.” She’s so kind. 

So in celebration of my birthday, I have a gift for you: Joanne’s Masterclass on Creating Your Own Masterclass.

#1: Check the bank.

Workshops and classes can cost a lot of money. Before you start looking for them, it’s a good idea to know what your financial situation is and what you’re able to spend on classes. But the good news? If your budget, like mine, is $0, there are still so many options for you! Thanks to Covid, many artists and organizations are getting grants to cover their expenses in order to offer their services for free. There is SO MUCH being offered that is accessible, not only in your area but also all over the world. Right now, I’m working with colleagues from all over Canada. Which leads me to…

#2: Follow everything.

How do I find all of these workshops, classes and opportunities? Follow. Everything. What does this mean? I’m subscribed to every possible newsletter I can find. Creative Manitoba. Theatre Projects. Prairie Theatre Exchange. Cercle Molière. Sick and Twisted. Manitoba Arts Council. Winnipeg Arts Council. Canada Council. CARFAC. But your resources don’t have to stop via email. I’m really active on Instagram, and I follow hundreds of theatre companies, film companies, and educational institutions. I’m going to be looking on Instagram anyway, so while I scroll through my feed I might as well make it productive as well as entertaining. Not into Instagram? Are you a Facebook person? That’s a great resource as well! There are many groups popping up specifically to share opportunities. For example, I’m part of a few IBPOC groups for film and theatre and there are posts from people all over the world sharing workshops, grants, casting calls and more. All forms of social media are a resource. Everyone is sharing resources these days, so connecting with these pages (and relevant artists) is a great way to stay in the know so you’re aware of all the opportunities being offered to you.

#3: Fear Is Your Friend

So what do you do with all these resources once they’re at your fingertips? Go for it! A year ago at this time, I wouldn’t have considered myself a playwright, but I was certainly interested in learning more about it. I found out that Citadel Theatre was offering a free Masterclass with Hannah Moscovitch. Although I did spend some time humming and hawing about whether or not I’d use this information, at some point I decided – screw it. I’m stuck at home, there’s nothing for me to do, and no acting jobs on the horizon. I’m going to go get this information whether I end up using it or not. What’s the harm in it? The only thing this class will do is improve myself. Nowadays, I’m a professional playwright. As I write, I’m constantly referring back to the notes I took in that session. It’s saved me quite a few times. Moral of the story? If you have the time, energy and interest – go for it. Don’t let fear stop you. In fact, fear is your friend. It lets you know what you really want, and once you make the leap, it will take you further than you could ever imagine.

That’s all for now, readers. Stay warm, stay safe, and stay tuned for more fun stories I only tell my friends.


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