Letters to a Fellow: Two

And these are the names. That’s not the way to start a sentence, let alone a paragraph, let alone a chapter. In fact they are the first words of one of my favourite books.

I have been told to keep the vision clear before the artists who I lead, myself first amongst them I suppose. Some artists need no more leading than to be continually pointed in the right direction, that is to say the same direction. What direction is that? From the top to the bottom of the common page. For some that is enough, and they must be left alone after that. I like that idea; I shall try it with my team.

A leader of artists must be an advocate: a go-between who goes between the artist and her art, but also between the artist and her commissioning buyer. The needs of artists are not a great mystery, neither are the economics of the council, but if each is not known to the other, or if it is not expressed in a lingua franca, then discord shall arise. Discord sets off a whole other set of artists, and suddenly you have a very colourful mutiny on your hands.

Deadlines are deadly to creativity, and kill creative minds. Pressure is good and a little stress is a wonder of motivation, but unless you are J.S. Bach or of such prodigious talent the demand for something unique and mind-blowing every Sunday for 52 Sundays is not going to end well for anyone.

Artistic and creative integrity are not all that matters. Character issues must be confronted immediately on team: we work in creative tension and harmony requires the use of a set of several chords in the one bar, but there is only one harmonious chord and many more discordant ones.

Artists want to be lead in love.


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