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[Opera America hired Astrid to lead two workshops for our 2013 Leadership Intensive.] Astrid’s background in nonprofit management and ongoing work with performing arts organizations meant that she was able to tailor the leadership workshops to the specific needs of opera leaders.
"Astrid has turned around the way I look at my career in the most extraordinary way. I used to think that the professional part of what I do was very separate from the creative and deeply personal aspects of being a composer. Going after professional opportunities to get my music out there felt to me like a very daunting task--one that I found a little distasteful because it felt like "selling myself." Astrid really helped me realize that building a career has to come from the most genuine part of myself--in the same way as building a piece. With this understanding, the professional world looks much less scary to me now, and I'm able to reach out to my professional network with the courage of my conviction, and with the kind of personal investment and care that makes professional experiences deeply meaningful. Career building is about believing in what you do, and its validity; it is about communication and courage. It only works if it feels true to who you are.
With her supportive and positive attitude combined with her incredible sensitivity and intelligence, Astrid has created for me a wonderful safe space to discover how I want to develop my goals from the inside out. I have found in her a true kindred spirit as well as a powerful ally and coach."
— Hannah L., New York, NY
Brava! Thank you so much for sharing your gifts, experience, and depth of knowledge with us. Your presentations truly anchored the program. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into tailoring the information to the opera world and to their personal experiences. That really made the difference. I look forward to the rest of the week with this solid footing underneath us.
— Leah D. Wilson, New York, NY
I am thrilled to be teaching a new class at the Yale School of Music entitled “Creating Sustainable Careers in the Arts” and we have gotten off to a great start. I teach a combination of
• How to create a positive mindset and project confidence;
• How to be an authentic, powerful and unique artist; and
• Entrepreneurial skills that will help you advance your music career.
Over the course of the semester, my students will learn how to adopt the mindset and learn skill sets and the processes necessary to become successful music entrepreneurs. Here is why this is so important, no matter what kind of career you envision as a musician.
My students are a mix of instrumental majors, a composer and a singer. All are dedicated to having performing careers. Most envision creating something new in the field, which we will explore in greater depth through a semester-long project. Many want to teach, either privately or at an institution.
Among the first week’s assignments were two pieces of wisdom from Steve Jobs:
Why are we reading about business entrepreneurs when all I want is to work as part of a performing arts organization and not create something new?
Here's my answer:
With the state of the arts world as it is, it is more important that ever to be the kind of person who thinks like an entrepreneur:
Status quo is no longer an option. Established performing arts organizations are in transition and are faced with the challenge of how to survive, let alone thrive, in the 21st Century. Music conservatory graduates, no matter how talented they are, need more than just raw talent. Indeed, with no guarantees of success as a musician, even musicians who do not envision creating a new enterprise and are looking to join an existing structure need to be asking themselves the following questions:
1. Know your authentic, best self and what makes you unique. This will help you to be positive and inspire confidence in those around you.
2. Look for opportunities and don’t wait for them to come to you.
3. Be flexible and open-minded about your opportunities.
4. Learn from your challenges and build on your experience.
5. Get support and create a network of like-minded people with whom you connect and share.
6. The corollary to the foregoing: Be a generous, supportive colleague so that people will want to work with you and ask you back.
That’s what my course is about: to help these amazingly talented young people gain the confidence in themselves to create a vision of success, look for opportunities to make that happen and go after them with the goal of creating a financially sustainable career.
Stay tuned for how we make that happen.