Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Show Some Respect

I know that I've talked on and on about acting professionally, but a situation that a close friend was in has reiterated the need to revisit this topic yet again.

If you are organizing a show:

- Be responsive, responsible and professional. Treat those with whom you are working with dignity and respect and keep the lines of communication open. Treat the artists as you would want to be treated yourself.

- Don't neglect to return someone's work for months after an event with no communication, explanation or good reason. You could get sued or have a police report filed against you for stealing or losing the artist's work.

- Don't neglect to inform the artists whose works you are representing or exhibiting of any changes that affect them, like new phone or email contacts, physically moving to a new location, new staff or contactpersons, show extensions, traveling exhibitions and other related circumstances. You could cause the artist to panic when he/she doesn't know what is going on, where his/her work is or how to contact you and, consequently could get sued or have a police report filed against you for stealing or losing the artist's work.

If you are participating in a show:

- Be courteous and follow directions. Read all of the instructions before asking questions. Abide by deadlines and requirements and don't expect exceptions to be made for you. Remember, you are only one of many artists responding, so don't act like you are the center of the universe or the only person with whom the gallery/curator has any contact. Abide by the same courtesy, respect and level of professionalism that you wish to be treated with.

- Try to work it out with the show organizer or gallery first. Don't badmouth, backstab or gossip about people for all that gossip can be hard to avoid at times. If the show organizer or gallery has genuinely ripped you off or treated you badly (be wary and aware, there are con artists and sleazebags out there who will take advantage), remain professional in warning others about the circumstance if you feel the need to do so.

Advice for both curators and artists alike:

- Don't threaten, berate or badmouth anyone. Behave in a professional and courteous manner. Don't use hostile or vulgar language or respond violently as this won't resolve anything. Essentially, if you wouldn't want someone to say it to you or to your own mother, then don't say it yourself.

- If someone has treated you unprofessionally, don't let them egg you on into stooping to their level. You don't want to perpetuate or be remembered for this. Continue to act responsibly and professionally.

- Don't make threats that you are not willing to follow through on. (Ideally, don't make threats at all - it can exacerbate the situation and will reflect upon yourself in all of your professional dealings.) For example, don't threaten to "call your lawyer" if you don't intend to actually do so - you may be called on it or may actually need to do so later.

It essentially comes back to the Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated yourself and keeping in mind that your actions will reflect upon you professionally in all of your career, so don't knowingly do or say anything you'd be ashamed of or want to disassociate from later on.

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