Saturday, February 15, 2014

creating a/broad, February 15, 2014

Cut Loose
by Cameryn Moore

A few weeks ago I received two pieces of bad news in the course of 24 hours. First, my fiscal sponsor for the past four years informed me that their one-person, quarter-time staff could no longer handle the load that my near-constant fundraising efforts were bringing them, and suggested that I start looking for a new sponsor as of August of this year. (They also told me that I needed to get my financial reporting practices in line with theirs tout suite!). Secondly, the liaison for my promotional sponsor and co-producer of last year’s UK tour told me that he was leaving the organization and that no one remaining there had the energy or interest in maintaining the relationship for a subsequent year; furthermore, the organization was turning its attention to more political lobbying and advocacy around sex workers’ rights in the UK, and therefore had fewer resources available for cultural outreach.

All of this is inarguable and unassailable. I couldn’t beg either of those organizations to take me back, no matter how much I wanted to. I heard their answers as calmly as I could, and then proceeded to have a mildly existential panic attack. Where would my further productions of a really challenging show related to sex work get support, if not from explicitly sex-worker-focused organizations? What the fuck was I doing with my life, anyway? (Yeah, that question is never far from my thoughts at such moments.)

I may never have that experience again, not through the Fringe. 

After soaking for three weeks in introspection and housing crises and planning for my summer tour—planning that must go forward, with or without the infrastructure—I realized that my situation, though unexpected and unplanned for, is neither dire nor actually problematic. I did a bit of research, and the shock has abated substantially. There are other organizations in the US that help individual artists receive donations and apply for grants, and so forth. In fact, the strongest contender that I’m looking at, that is their entire purpose, so they are not going to have staff-burnout problems over my piddling little campaigns. On the UK side of things, there are other sex worker organizations in the UK that I can talk with, and if they, too, are overstretched, it’s okay. I made lots of contacts last year, who are becoming ongoing friends and connections. They are already helping me enormously—for example, my billeting needs for a month in London are already covered--and many are already laying plans and talking to their friends, and have pledged their support for whatever they can do. So there’s that.

The difference is, I have to organize this by myself. Again.

The increasing inaccessibility of the Canadian Fringe circuit that TJ Dawe and Rob Salerno were debating last week, that relates to this too, right? Although I am going to try to get back on the grind next year, the odds are more against me than they have ever have been, in terms of assembling a proper Fringe tour, with the built-in audiences and the awesome programs and the sweet technical packages and never-adequate-but-still-better-than-nothing media attention. I may never have that experience again, not through the Fringe. 

Between that reality and the two bits of harsh information from my previous partners in infrastructure, maybe my life is trying to tell me something. Maybe it’s time for me to step out of the incubator.

Funny thing is, it doesn’t feel like I’ve been in an incubator. The last few years have been awesome, but they have felt nothing like safe and secure. I’ve been working the artrepreneurial angle like a motherfucker, and I am tired, oh lord, I am TIRED. But my work is not done, and I have always had a streak of single-mindedness, if not to say stubbornness, about my mission, and like I said, it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. I can consider it all a warm-up for what’s to come.

Phone Whore was not written as advocacy or a propaganda piece; none of my stuff is.

Because I do believe it’s time. Time to grow up and get my financials in order. Time to see if I can pull a network together, and keep it together. Time to see what I can offer my performance colleagues, and test my own precepts of generosity and sharing. Time to stop relying on gifts of fish, metaphorically speaking, and start keeping an eye out for lessons, both formal and incidental, on how to fish for my damn self.

Time to really push my work out there as theatrical work by an emerging, if not entirely mature, artist and let it stand, shaky-legged and bare-headed in that arena. Phone Whore was not written as advocacy or a propaganda piece; none of my stuff is. But there is no denying that I have been moving through the world with the stamp and support of sex worker and kink organizations and Fringe festivals. I wonder if that has somehow been affecting the world’s view of my work. I wonder if that has subconsciously been holding me back.

Time to see if my fear of abandonment and being alone is less about people leaving me, and more about me leaving people. Is it really worth it, the work that I want to do, is it worth leaving the comfort of what I know and building my own bridge in front of me?

I don’t know, but I think I’m about to find out.

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