Savvy Lessons Learned

This past week I participated in the Savvy Arts Venture Challenge in South Carolina and I met some of the most amazing people.

I got a call a while ago from the founder, David Cutler, to be one of the faculty members and I immediately said yes. I had no idea what to expect, except that I was going to South Carolina, and the experience turned out to be beyond my wildest dreams. I got to work with amazing artists, arts administrators and an amazing faculty from around the world – including Donna Walker-Kuhne, Juan Antonio Cuellar, Lance LaDuke and, brain child of the idea, David Cutler.

If you’re an artist or arts administrator of any age, in any discipline, I would highly recommend this weeklong workshop. During the week individuals pitched their Big Ideas, and everyone voted to identify the best ones.

Winning idea founders hired a team to develop their idea further. Under immense pressure and ongoing workshops in everything from idea development, communications, and finance, to team formation and web development, the teams worked day and night to create an installation, and develop a timed pitch for a final presentation. On day five, 9 ideas were pitched to a “Shark Tank” in front of 300 people including the mayor of Columbia, SC. It was spectacular!

Complete chaos, torture and magnificence took place over the week. The Southern food was out of this world, and the relationships built there, I believe, are so deep and broad they’ll quite possibly last a lifetime. I am certain mine will.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I either learned, or had reinforced through this awesome experience:

Challenge yourself to get bigger.

When developing an idea, many of us get stuck in this mid range area – what you might call the “Safety Zone”. At Savvy, participants were challenged to either get much smaller (which nobody did) or get much BIGGER. The bigger idea development helped take the best idea into the winner’s circle.

Trust the process.

Teaming is messy. Personalities get poked, but if you can remember that everything happens for a reason, you’ll find a way through the maze of self-doubt, through the challenges of complexity and climb up to a higher ground of team cohesion. One team’s idea got squashed multiple times and yet they rose up to take second place overall. YAY!

Be kind to yourself and everyone else.

Kindness goes a long way at 4AM when you are finishing up your project pitch. Run to get coffee for your team, offer up your last protein bar or M&Ms, if you are done with your task, roll up your sleeves and pitch in to help someone else. Also, if you are feeling bad about something you did or didn’t do, take a walk, drink some water, put your hands over your heart and remember you are loved. Because you are in all your messy glory.

This week challenge yourself to get savvier about what you are up to. The messy places are the places to help you grow, so get messy, Creative Geniuses and take yourself and your ideas out into the world!

Oh, and here’s the final pitch map!


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