Phooey With Flaws

As a counterpoint to my entry yesterday, I offer this article from the Gotham Gazette.It was suggested to the editor by a reader. While the article is about being an artist in NYC, it obviously has lessons for any place in the country.

What really caught my eye was #7

7. Be Perfect
A composer who teaches on the faculty of the Juilliard School observed in a television documentary marking its centennial celebration that an average graduate of law school or medical school can still have a decent career. But it is not possible, he said, for a successful artist to be only average.

Here I am saying you shouldn’t be afraid to be flawed and I come across this article which I have to agree with that says only the perfect and sublime can ever expect to make enough to eat.

Going back to the Power of Flaws entry I cited yesterday, I wonder if it is the fault of the people who promote visual and performing arts (movies included). As Andrew Taylor says-

…read through most arts marketing materials or grant applications and what will you find? Perfection, triumph, success, and positive spin. Their performances are always exceptional. Their audiences are always ecstatic. Their reviews are always resounding (or mysteriously missing from the packet). Their communities are always connected and enthralled. In short, they are superhuman, disconnected, and insincere.

Is it any wonder then that people expect perfection from artists?

It is a viscious circle. You have to say you are wonderful because people expect you to be wonderful because you have been telling them how uniquely wonderful everything you do is.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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