Choosing to be part of a creative network

Do you sometimes feel stuck? You know you have a good idea, or a stubborn problem, but don´t know how bring it to life, or solve it? Often the solution can be found by interacting with a trusted network of people.  

One of the key objectives for Theatre in Palm project is to build a solid network, a platform of people, organizations and cultures. All sharing a passion for theatre and connecting to each other, to people and the world around them. In the project the network is created by interaction between emerging artists, mentors and project members. Interaction of all the different talent will happen in three separate residencies in 2023 and 2024.  

The more you give, the more you get 

Building a network of emerging artists can develop each individual´s own artistic career. At its best, residence work can create a European network that builds the know-how and career of each participating emerging artist forward. Often, another actor in the creative profession looks at things from a slightly different angle than you yourself and can give fresh suggestions or solutions to a problem. In the residencies, the artists can develop their communication skills and artistic expression in an international context. They also get valuable peer support from participating colleagues and experienced mentors.  

Networking is a career-long activity. 

In the long-term, equal networks work reciprocally and are based on trust. This kind of network and networking can be thought of as a long-term – perhaps career-long – activity. It’s good to keep in mind that trust is built slowly and usually requires face-to-face meetings, working together, and repeated shared experiences. Shared professional experiences are a strong basis for future cooperation. It is often the case that actors who have done projects together choose each other as working partners in the future as well, because trust already exists. 

Know you, your mind and your dreams 

Obstacles to networking can be both external, circumstances-related reasons or internal obstacles related to your own skills or attitudes. One common obstacle to networking is that we have not thought about what we are looking for from networks, or what kind of expertise we can offer to others. We don’t always take the time to verbalize our expertise and clarify what kind of partnerships we need to build in order to get to the next professional level and make our dreams come true. Sometimes in the creative field – just like in other fields – we get used to working “as before” with people we know, who work in the same field, and we don’t realize the benefits of mixing our networks: how our own activities could develop in interaction or cooperation with other fields or actors. 

Find people to complement our own skills and strengths. 

Uncertainty about our own professional needs, dreams and future directions may indicate lack of professional competencies. The good news is, that we can all learn and increase our own competencies or find people to complement our own skills and strengths. It is important we clarify where we are now and where we want to be in the future. Other side of the coin in the same process is the openness and honesty of the communication and dialogue with the new colleagues. 

Networking is interaction, so it is good to think about what kind of things you want to emphasize in your own communication. Do you want to share your thoughts, build a bridge of trust and are you willing and curious to get to know new work partners? Just remember, together we are stronger.  

Dream theatre. Do theatre. Live theatre. Together. 

Author: Minna Haapasalo, Turku university of applied sciences / Arts Academy 

Minna Haapasalo is a Drama Instructor, Senior Lecturer and Education Coordinator of Performing Arts in the Turku Arts Academy (Finland). 

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