Mission, Vision, and Statement

Artist statements. I write them for me, other artists, your mom… They function as a brief way to let outsiders into your head and understand the context of your practice. I’ve written them from a few sentences to a few pages when required. They make sense to me.  I can handle them.

In between semesters of Arts Management at Centennial College (yes, I went back to school – that’s a whole other post) I decided to get some light reading in.

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The Profitable Artist, edited by Peter Cobb, Felicity Hogan, and Michael Royce. Apparently not a work of fiction.

I can’t speak about much of what’s in the book since I just opened it up today, but one of the first exercises is to figure out your mission and vision statements for yourself as an artist. I’d never really thought of this as applying to artists, just businesses.

At school, we work with mission statements all the time. An arts organization, or any other kind of organization, is lost without one. The pop-up dictionary on Google defines it as “a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.” That works, let’s go with that.

Except they’re also supposed to be pithy, snappy, sharp. The Vatican runs a science lab. Their mission statement is to “do good science”. That is a pretty killer open-ended mission statement right there. “Do good art” doesn’t quite have the same function. What is good art? What is art? What does an artist even do? What do I do?

And so once again reading has led to more reading and I am quickly maxing out my credit card ordering books the library doesn’t have and paying overdue fines on the ones it does.

Currently in the mail is a book of speeches by Marshall McLuhan, one of which features this nugget:

“The job of the artist is to upset all the senses and thus provide new vision and new powers of adjusting to and relating to new situations.”

I’m going to think about this more.

I have some senses to upset.

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