Monday, September 22, 2008

Business and Arts in the Mirror Effect

Business and Art: The Mirror Effect Goes Both Ways

David M. Boje

I want to thank all the students, faculty and the Dean of the Business College for coming here tonight. I want to thank the artists, Arts Organization leaders, and the leaders in government for being here tonight. I want to thank the leaders of the Chamber of Commerce for coming tonight to speak to us. I particularly want to thank Virginia Maria Romero of Talking Stick Institute, for getting the ball rolling, to bring this Arts Convention into being. And thanks to Joe Gladstone for co-facilitating with me tonight.

I being my storytelling by telling you about how Virginia Maria Romero came to the Dean of the College of Business, and to the Associate Dean, and asked them to help her arts business.  And the Deans enrolled her project for Retablos in the Arrowhead Center, and the entrepreneurship of a win-win partnership began.  And after last year’s Talking Stick Institute brought some artists together to decide what to do about the arts economy, Virginia Maria called me, and said, TSI could do lots more.  And the rest, as they say, is history. She became a board member of TSI and helped in a big way to get this Arts Convention off the ground.

Tonight, I want to talk about something that Friedrich Nietzsche (1882/1974: p. 297, The Gay Science) called the “mirror effect.”  The best art for business is the Mirror Effect – to hold a mirror up to those who command and control. Art holds up a mirror up to those who obey and those who resist.  Art holds a mirror up to utilitarian, instrumental kinds of ethics, so that a more caring and social and maybe even natured ethical consciousness is apprehended.  And Business can hold up the Mirror of more prosperity, better plans and implementation in the Arts Scene. A vitalized Arts Scene is important to business. Arts Tourism in New Mexico is a five billion dollar industry. And there are more artists per capita in New Mexico than any other state, and New Mexico leads the nation when it comes to arts tourists.

When I say to students, visit the local Arts Scene. They reply, too often, “What Arts Scene?’  Have you been to Arts Ramble, to ArtsHop, to Love of Arts Month, or visited the Museums? No, I did not know about any of that?  How do I find out? That’s the main problem. There just is not enough marketing, not to students, not to arts tourists in Europe, not to the State government, who tends to see art as something, up-North.

The Mirror Effect brings about a bet on the future, what I call an “antenarrative” (Boje, 2001, Narrative Methods for Organization & Communication Research). An ante means a ‘bet’ and a ‘before. Antenarrative is a bet about the future that comes before a narrative petrification is constructed.

This evening we make some antenarratives, some bets on the future of the Arts Scene.  We dream our bets about the future we want this Arts Scene to bring into being. As for me, my antenarrative is that Business can interplay with Art in ways that help them both comprehend and know the Creative Economy in a more subtle way.

In The Arts Convention for Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley, we are holding up two mirrors.  The first mirror reflects the Arts Scene through a kaleidoscope of business facets.  The second mirror reflects Business through the kaleidoscope of the Arts.

Looking at the Arts Scene through the Business Mirror

Business is all about utility, the economics of the arts from its revenues, costs, wages, to its strategic piloting indicators (what Dean Carruthers calls the ‘dash board indicators’).  The theme of this Arts Convention: how artists and arts organizations can make a living. We think that is by marketing Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley as an “Arts Destination” and by Business, Arts, University, and Chambers of Commerce (we have 2) coming together to market the arts.  Tonight we will do some storytelling about what is possible in the Future of the Arts Scene, and then build some strategic piloting indicators.

Some major indicators are arts buying and selling.  What I hear is arts is just not selling, artists and galleries are not making a living. There are over 250 artists, some 130 organizations in the arts scene (including 87 arts service organizations, 36 galleries,  & 7 museums), but arts are not selling, not well enough for those who want to, to make a living.

What are these Strategic Piloting Indicators? 50,000 people will visit RenFaire, and 230,000 will visit museums, and another 10,000 will visit 36 galleries this year. ‘So what’ says Business? What counts is the number of people that buy, and not just how much art they buy, but how many meals, hotel rooms, and other kinds of consumer purchases such as rental cars, clothing, etc. There are both qualitative and quantitative piloting indicators used to assess if missions, goals, and plans are coming into existence, bearing fruit.

The missions, goals, action plans, and piloting indicators are the way Business looks at the local economy of the arts scene.

What does Arts see reflected in the mirror Business holds up to its Scene? The Business Mirror Effect would look at overlap, at duplication of mission by this or that organization with other organization, and call for more win-win cooperation by respecting niches.

Classism There is some snobbery, and some classism. The MFA artist does not associate with the hobbyist. The Town, Mesa, and City artist is outside the social class of the University artist.  There is a socioeconomic reflection of the Arts Scene in the Business Mirror. There is high, middle, and lower class art. The lower class buys its Wal-art at the two local Wal-Marts. Couch potatoes of all classes do not frequent the Symphony, Opera of the plays at the community theatres. The upper class does not frequent many galleries locally, but do attend the fundraisers at the animal shelter, and some give to the Symphony to defray costs of the program. The middle class, by in large heads to Silver City, to El Paso, or even Santa Fe to buy the more expensive art.

Water colorists and sculptors share their ways of doing art, but the oil and acrylic artists keep trade secrets. Some galleries, and certainly the symphony cater to the upper class, maybe to the upper middle class. The Crafts and Farmers’ Market caters to the people who want affordable arts and crafts. Some arts associations don’t sell visual art for more than $200. Other arts organizations would never sell so cheaply. There is a sort of classism in the arts and culture here, maybe everywhere. Business looks at classism in the arts in terms of pricing strategy.  There is ageism. Young students rarely venture beyond the castle walls of the University, to attend an Arts Ramble (first Friday of each month) or the annual ArtsHop, or the Love of Arts Month. These are pursuits of much older people.

The Business Mirror Effect gives a glimpse why the arts scene must be compellent so that University students, faculty, and staff will become consumers in the Arts Scene. Art as a product must compel the buyers to buy so that artist can make a living, arts galleries and theatres a profit, and museum gift shops revenue to supplement shrinking budget from the State. 

Let us do the Mirror Effect the other way: What can Business learn from the Arts?

Art is often used by business in very utilitarian ways:

*    How to make organizations beautiful (oftentimes when they are not).

*    To dilute what is bitter is the feat of inventive artists.

*    Seeing Things around the corner that a linear plan cannot fathom.

*    Making products into brands, and corporations into images.

*    Spinning a story to reinvent a tarnished image.

*    Using architectural perspective, tinted glass and shadows to conceal much from public view.

Some say the measure of a strong corporate culture, is a portrait of the CEO, University President, or General is visible from the entry way of headquarters. An artist has made such a portrait, and it serves a very instrumental purpose: a referent to the founder’s, and to successors’ core values, and a glorification of the legitimate leaders of an enterprise.

Art can also make Business conscious of some very Ethical things. Nietzsche (p. 235) says of the artist, “their best art would not really profit others.”  Many in Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley would agree that their art does not bring them profit.  But that may not be their intent. Art can help business to comprehend, to feel a sense of caring, to know itself beyond instrumental, utilitarian, and impersonal indicators. Those who are called artists in the best sense of that term can give business an ethical appreciation.  For example, Mark Medoff wrote a play and it debuted locally, called “We Are Enron.”  The play is the Mirror Effect of Arts’ perspective on Business, on Accounting, on Free Market Capitalism.

More than being instrumental, utilitarian or a spin, art can develop a perspective that peers beneath the spectacle masquerade.  Art can get beneath the superficial, and way down to the soul of business. Art, when used by Business as a tool, misses this deeper more answerable ethical perspective.

Apollo and Dionysus Perhaps when Business looks in the Arts’ Mirror, business sees a reflection of Dionysus. For Nietzsche there is Apollonian art and Dionysian art. Apollo art is all about hierarchy, status, and class. Dionysian art is about change, revolution, and destruction of the old hierarchies.  The Arts Scene will grow out of the interplay of the Apollo and Dionysus artists. Artists can help business, to draw from a drained cup of worker’s labor, another drop of joy that tastes sweet to the soul. When Art is incorporated into Business, not as a tool, but as inspiration, things that were previously inexpressible become storyable.

Business is About Cause and Effect.  Business without art, or only art as a tool, can only see cause and effect (Nietzsche, p. 204, 235). With Art in the Mirror Effect, Business can see its antenarrative, its ways of ‘Becoming’ its bet. Nietzsche calls it a “river of becoming” (p. 163).  The problem is that Cause and Effect logic misses most of the subtle aspects of becoming. Business infers an effect, and then looks for a cause (the most basic duality), and then the cause of that cause, until a linear causal chain is constructed as a BME (Beginning, Middle & End) narrative. The problem with cause and effect duality reasoning is that it is without Art. With the Mirror Effect of art, it’s possible to see more than linearity, and to include more subtle patterns.

Arts and Business in the Mirror Effect We are witness to the birth of a new perspective, Arts, Business, Government and Education working together, in a win-win relationship. We are witness to the birth of a new and different Arts-Business aesthetics.  This Arts Scene will grow and prosper. This is the arts scene of Southern New Mexico. It’s an Arts Scene at the crossroads of Hispano, Anglo, and Native American cultures.

A vitalized Arts Scene important to business. Artists can help Business to see the suffering of souls in visual arts, to hear the tones of suffering of souls torment in business.  This occurs when the instrumental reasoning of cause and effects appears to come unhinged (Nietzsche, p. 143).

Thanks one and all for making this Arts Convention a great Hall of Mirrors.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Storyteller - A poem by Keith Wilson

The Story Teller
So much came to depend upon the past,
what he thought had happened, all seen
with increasing clarity, all losing
the distortion of his early lies
about family, legends, his own powers.
Before long, once upon a time became
"it was" until finally he could not separate
dreams from happenings, ceased to care
as the imagined life flowed onto paper,
rang like small clay bells in the ears
of audiences and in the midst of long years
he grew to be, what he had one thought to be.
Poem by Keith Wilson copyright 2003
from the book: Night and Its Secret Songs 
coyright 2003 Limberlost Press
Keith Wilson is poet laureate for New Mexico State University
Included on this blog by permission of the author - Sep 18, 2008

Put in Comments about ARTS CONVENTION has all the current info on ARTS CONVENTION 2008.  You will find photos, participant information, and our next steps. 

What has Arts Convention Done? The 1st annual Arts Convention of Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley is wrapping up their event on Sept 22. Faculty and students of the Business College are working with local artists and arts organization members to do work on task forces between Sept and Dec 8th. To date the Arts Convention participants formed 10 task forces, each one of them developed mission statements, and set three goals to accomplish by Dec 8. The key theme of the Convention has been how to improve the arts economy so artists in the visual, performing, and literary arts make more money. The Mayors of Mesilla and Las Cruces, as well as many arts organization leaders (such as Heather Pollard of DAAC, Greg Fant Associate Dean of Arts & Sciences, ...Cindi Fargo of Downtown Las Cruces, Lori Grumet the Director of City of Las Cruces Public Services, Wayne Crawford and Dick Thomas for the literary arts, Steve Fishmann & Leonard Rawson, and many more) have addressed the Convention. Ways artists and arts organizations can market events has been a key concern to delegates. Ed Breeding, a local filmographer premiered his new film, "Heart of the Arts." The documentary film allows people to discover the magnificent and diverse artist's works in Mesilla Valley.

Please add your comments - Thank you -- David Boje

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blacksmith and Funding in New Mexico --Sept 15 opening story to Arts Convention

Opening Remarks for Sep 15th 2008 ARTS CONVENTION

David M. Boje

September 15, 2008

Blacksmiths and Funding in New Mexico

Why is up-North in New Mexico getting more Arts Funding? 

The goals you set tonight in each task force can change the patterns of storytelling in the Arts and Culture scene of Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley. 


I have two questions tonight:


  1. How do you market arts and the arts scene of Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley?
  2. How can artists and museums, galleries, theatres, symphonies, book and journal publishers, music groups and film societies make more money in Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley?


My point is that art is not selling in Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley? Sure some is selling, but artists are not making a living. That is why Ruth Drayer, our Talking Stick Board member moved to Santa Fe. It’s why three galleries closed last year. There is a reason why the museums are asking for funding. And there’s a reason why New Mexico State University professors are paid about 15 to 20% less then the professors in University of New Mexico, also financed by the state.


Now here is story for you to kick it off.


I am a member of SWABA, the Southwest Artist Blacksmith Association.  Susan Frary and Pep Gomez are my forge teachers. 


I made a chisel with the help of Ben, Pep, and Susan at my first SWABA meeting. At my second, I learned to make a coal fire with something called a doughnut, and how to hold the hammer to so as not to have it bounce off the anvil and knock me out.  When we got the fire going, I made three hooks to use in my barn, to hang the fly traps on to help out the Arabian horses.  I turned the crank myself on a hand-operated blower.


Hopper Shannon is a blacksmith in Hatch. He designed the blacksmith building in Farm and Ranch Museum. He did it old style, with adobe bricks, and no air-conditioning, and electric motors. Hopper was the 1st blacksmith employed at the forge at Farm and Ranch Museum.  That’s until Governor Richardson cut back the funding to the down-state museums in New Mexico. The blacksmiths teaching the craft were no longer on the payroll.


So Hopper’s student, Billy Provence volunteered to work for free, and so did Susan Frary. They work without wages several days a week. But the museum granted them the right to sell their back art to the visitors.  They make knives, hooks for tools, and fire starters (a piece of forged steel and a flint stone). I bought two of Hopper’s fire starters. Its easy when he strikes it and makes the sparks fly.  I still don’t have the hang of it.


Now here is the interesting part of my story. The state of New Mexico increased the funding to museums up-North, while decreasing the funding down-South.


I decided this Thanksgiving week, when I am off from the university to work all week with Pep and Susan, to really learn my black art. In January I’ll go take a class with Hopper Shannon in Hatch. He has told me No, he’ won’t teach me three times now. But I teach assertivness, and to me a no is just a request for more information.


The reason I don’t want to go up North to Santa Fe or Albuquerque to take a class is I think we have some fine blacksmith artists right here.


I did some comparisons.  They are in a report I gave to the city and to the councilors. Its on the web at http://talkingstick .info 


In FY 2008 arts funding to counties in New Mexico by the New Mexico Arts Commission (State Dept of Cultural Affairs, using Federal money from National Endowment for the Arts, and state monies), did something mighty peculiar.


If you compare the funding of arts organizations in this state between 2004 and 2008 here is what you see


Dona Ana county (down-South) in 2004 received $88,119 in grants (6.29% of total) and in 2008 got about half of that, only $49,574 (5.5%)


Now look at Santa Fe, up-North.  In 2004 they got $169,632 (12.11%) and in 2008, it almost doubled, to $306,445 (34% of the total). 


Now you could say that Dona Ana just put in fewer grants. I hear that story. But you got to admit the numbers tell quite a story.  When you put the story of the funding of museums going up, up-North, and way down, down-South, I think there should be some kind of investigation.


Now next year I will be ready to take up an art by Great Grandfather mastered. He was a blacksmith in Goldendale Washington. Became a blacksmith after he and his daughter Wilda (my grandmother) crossed the Rockies in a covered wagon. They tried wheat farming, but could not make a go of it. Moved to town and became a blacksmith. Wilda and her brother Gerald became trick riders in the Rodeo. Gerald married Stella LaClaire of the Yakima tribe. My grand mother learned all about herbs and how to throw a rock to kill a rabbit for dinner, and how to bend a piece of wire to make a hook and catch a fish.


Let me tell you what its like to be an artist. My dad made wood clocks, pens and toys. Sole them at fairs all over Oregon. But the fairs charge him $300 to $500 for a weekend. He had to sell a lot of pens and yo-yos to make that money back. He had to sell a lot more to pay for the materials, and all those tools. And he had to sell even more if he was to earn money to pay some bills and buy some food.  Still, he was the happiest man I ever knew, after he left the corporate world and become an artist.  He died happy, asleep in his art shop, with a smile on his face, and the remote control in his hand.  Kinda like to go that way myself, God willing.

Now keep in mind this is just storytelling, and you will have to investigate the facts for yourself. -- David Boje


Friday, September 12, 2008

David Boje's remarks for Sharon Shultz Sept 8 2008

Sharon writes

“So sorry to cancel speaking at your Arts Convention opening, but I’m sure you understand. The main points I wanted to make were:"

1.   Tourism is a $5.2 billion industry in New Mexico

2.    Tourism is the second largest private sector industry in NM and is the largest private sector employer in NM

3.    The arts are an important component of that figure and a great attraction for tourists to NM

4.     The Tourism Association of New Mexico is a membership organization (like a Chamber of Commerce) that works on behalf of the tourism industry in NM with legislative action and educational programs. More details on what we do and the benefits of membership are on our website,

“I appreciate being invited to participate in your conference and hope it is successful.” – Sharon Shultz

 The following are addition economic remarks provided by David Boje

 Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley ARTS SCENE can command more revenues when it gets it tells its story to the public. Look at this amazing potential. 

"Nationally, the nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year—$63.1 billion in spending by organizations and an additional $103.1 billion in event-related spending by their audiences --- According to the report "Arts & Economic Prosperity III: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences

 Revenue impacts• New Mexico Culture is already a $4.9 Billion Dollar Industry of the 5.2 billion tourism industry that Sharon Shultz mentioned. We can say that up North they only are getting $1.2 Billion Dollars of it. That means quite a bit is available to the Southern part of this state. Of this, about half or $2.5 Billion Dollar Arts & Culture Industry

  • This  means $183 Million in Tax Revenues for this State --- Source: 2004 State of New Mexico reports (p. 3 & 5 of the 2004 report, now offline with release of 2006 report).50

Professor Chris Erickson writes in 2007 issue of New Mexico Business Outlook:

“Local officials should also focus on improving amenities. Las Cruces

needs more parks, more theaters, and more arts in general. The local arts scene is fine for a town our size, but there is also considerable room for improvement especially as we grow”. - Feb 2007. 

 New Mexico has several major arts scenes, with 3 cities in the top 25 arts destinations in America according to American Style Magazine: Albuquerque is #7 in top 25 big cities; Santa Fe is #1 and Taos #5 in the Smallest 25 cities category. When Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley Arts & Culture Scene" is recognized by the State of New Mexico - Department of Cultural Affairs for the outstanding Arts Destination it has become, then Las Cruces & Mesilla Valley Arts & Culture Scene" has a good chance of making the list. All we have to do is show the world that we have more galleries, artist, and arts service organizations than Portsmouth (#25 on the Small Cities - under 100,000 in population. Portsmouth has 6 galleries - Las Cruces has 44 galleries and museums

In 2007, Silver City and Las Vegas were designated New Mexico’s first Arts and Culture Districts as part of Governor Bill Richardson’s Arts and Culture Districts Initiative (see press release Jan 24 2007)


Las Cruces' nickname is 'Cultural Crossroads.' Las Cruces (86,268 population as of 2006) is the second largest city in New Mexico and the historic crossroads for Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and Anglo frontiersmen. According to the Vision 2040 predictions, population of the City of Las Cruces (& Doña Ana County) will expand by 40% by 2040.


Florida (2006 p.1) suggests that Creative Cities are "cauldrons of creativity."

Hartey (2005" 2) suggests that Creative Industries of a city attract artists, professors, scientists, and musicians. Creative Cities writes Jinna Tay (p. 220, in Hartey) says they "are spaces you want to be in, places to be seen." There are three historic preservation areas that can be drawn into a clarity of artistic purpose: Las Cruces Downtown (including Rio Grande theater & Amador Hotel), Mesilla Plaza, and Mesquite Historic District Neighborhood. These three areas are the heart of a creative economy


The Creative Class expects an active arts and music scene, including 'edgy arts events' and a vibrant street life as reasons to move to a city (Florida, 2004: p. 224, 231-2).


Talking Stick Institute is putting on the ARTS CONVENTION because our intent is to incubate ideas that support arts and culture-based economic development for Las Cruces businesses, individuals, organizations, agencies and institutions to work collaboratively and to formally structure that collaboration creating an economic market niche (This is consistent with House Bill 440).


References & Footnotes

• Beckett, Patrick H. 1993. Las Cruces, New Mexico 1881: As Seen By Her Newspapers. COAS Publishing and Research.

• Boje, D. M. 2007 -- Copy of Entire FINALReport pdf May 7 2008 - version online that incorporates City Council, Dean of Business College, & several arts organization leader's feedback; WORD version of 79 page FINAL REPORT on Arts & Culture Alliance proposal (takes longer time to download)

Caves, Richard E. 2002. Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Harvard University Press.

• Fisher, J. T. 2003. Las Cruces.

• Florida, Richard. 2008. Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life. NY: Basic Books.

• Florida, Richard. 2006. Cities and the Creative Class. NY: Routledge.

• Florida, Richard. 2004. The Rise of the Creative Class. NY: Basic Books.

• Harris, Linda G. 1993. Las Cruces, An Illustrated History. Las Cruces, NM: Arroyo Press.

• Hartley, John. (ed). 2005. Creative Industries. UK/Australia: Blackwell Publishers.

• Howkins, John. 2002. The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas. Penguin Global.

• Hunner, Jon; Kord, Brian; Lachica, Cassandra; & Spence, Renee. 2003. Las Cruces (NM). Portsmouth, NH: Acadia Publishing.

• Landry, Charles. 2000. The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. Earthscan Publications Ltd.

• MacNeish, Richard S. 1983. Preliminary Investigations of the Archaic in the Region of Las Cruces.

• Owen, Gordon. 2000. Las Cruces New Mexico, Multicultural Crossroads. Yucca Tree Press.

• Taylor, Mary Daniels (with contributions by Nora Barrick) 2004.. A Place as Wild as the West Ever Was, Mesilla, New Mexico: 1848-1872. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University.

• Thorsby, David. 2001. Economics and Culture. UK: University of Cambridge.

1. New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. On Fertile Ground, 2006 Report to the Community. New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. p. 3.

2 Vision 2040 Cultural Inventories report (draft).

3. National Register of Historic Places See listing of 15 Historic Places in Las Cruces.

4. Vision 2040 Population Report.

5. City of Las Cruces Comprehensive Plan for Economic Development. 1999.

6. 2004 Town of Mesilla Comprehesnive Plan

Listing provided courtesy of Talking Stick Institute

contact: to update information on this listing


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The 10th Circle of Arts Convention STORYTELLING ORG

Yesterday David Tobey and I co-facilitated the 1st Annual Arts convention of Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley.  Virginia Maria Romero and Trina Dunbar (Talking Stick board members) helped us bring this event into Being. My TA and doctoral student Joe Gladstone and the students in the classes of the two David's did awesome work, volunteering at arts events, passing out invites, and talking it up.  Laura and Chris came early qnd helped us set up and did a terrific job on the sign in table.  

the Arts Convention is a Storytelling Organization of artists and leaders from business, government, education, and arts organizations (including 36 galleries, 7 museums, & 85 service organizations in the performing, literary, and visual arts).  This is a major undertaking.  

Joe, Chris, Laura, and I arranged signs, set up the computer and projector, and arranged the ten talking stick circles. forgot my smudge stick, but did the best I could to set up a sacred space.

As the evening progressed it became obvious that the 10th Circle is the most important one. 


1. Economics
2. Education
3. Galleries
4 Government
5. Literary
6. Media
7. Museums
8. Performing
9. Visual
10. Patrons

There was excellent tourn out and participation in 9 or the Circles. Galleries was a bit light with only two delegates, but three hard-working students stuck it out and made something of that Circle.  They had visited the galleries in person to do invites, and done volunteer work at ArtsHop over the weekend (an event of Galleries).  The Visucal Arts Circle had the most delgates (about a dozen or so), followed by Museums, and others with very respectable numbes.

The 10th Circle is Patrons, and after the film, the two delegates that sat in that Circle, left and did not come back. So there were wore with 10 Circles, and one had no delegates. there in the middle of the room, was an abyss, a black hole.

We put out 100 chairs, and everyone was taken, and a few extras besides.  

Let's back up a bit.  It came time to start the event. I led off with some brief remarks about how the Arts Convention is itself is an important Storytelling Organization (used some but not much of my morning post yesterday).  I spoke about the 10 Talking Stick Circles, how each one is facilitated by students David and I trained just two weeks ago.  I explained the ground rules.
When you have the Talking Stick, you have the power of the storyteller. You tell and everyone listens. WHen you don't have the Talking Stick your role is to listen. The student's role is to take notes in their notebooks (as verbatim as possible).

The most important thing about Storytelling is Story-Listening, the very purpose of  Talking Stick Circles.  

The second most important thing about Storytelling is Story-Noticing!  We noticed taht after the break, there were 9 not 10 Circles.

STORY NOTICING - Not all storytelling is verbal or written. SOme telling you notice in the behavior.  Story Noticing means becoming aware of the storytelling going on in a time and place, that is being taken-for-granted. 

We notices a story. The 10th Circle was vacant.  And its that very circle, the patrons that is important to the other nine.  the 10th Circle pays the bills of the 128 arts organizations in Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley.  Some patrons are donors to various arts organizations, especially to the performing arts.  Other patrons are collectors of sculpture, weaving, and paintings. More than a few are arts tourists.  

There was this mad rush of participants in the Arts convention to remove the empty chairs of the 10th Circle.  I intervened, "take pictures, put it on film. This is a special moment."  There was a silent pause that lasted longer than the traffic lights on Lohman.  In that pause, there was this fantastic moment of Story Noticing.  We were staring at it, thinking and feeling at the same time.

Let's put the 10th Circle in context. WIthout patrons, there are 250 artists who cannot make a living, and 6 galleries who will not survive for long.  I recall saying, "next meeting, on Sept 15th, lets try again to invite patrons here. How about Mrs Jack Key, Mrs Sisbarro, and Mrs Borman (names synonymous with auto dealers in our community)?  I hear they are big patrons of the arts.  Let's invite them.  What about the wives of other male industries, such as the home construction and community banking?  Check the donor lists of the public TV and radio stations, and the people buying bigger ad spaces in the symphony programs. Hold those empty chairs in the 10th Circle."

As a Storytelling Organization we must include the voices of the patrons, who are so conspicuously absent from the Arts Convention. Without them all the mission statements, goals and plan won't matter much.  More another time.  

We showed the Ed Breeding Film, "Heart of the Arts" for the very first time to the public.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Storytelling Organization of the ARTS CONVENTION


Today Sep 8th 2008 is the first day of the Arts Convention of Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley.

We will use these talking sticks to create a sacred space for delegates of the 250 artist and 128 arts organizations. The talking sticks will allow storytellers to integrate new horizons of the past, present, and future of the Arts Scene by coming together in a very special STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION, we call the 1st Annual Arts Convention.

Our challenge today is to construct collective storytelling of the opportunity for prosperity, growth, and evolution of this awesome Arts Scene.

With our Talking Sticks we create 10 sacred circles where we invite people to listen to the storytelling of those holding the stick, until its your turn to find your storyteller's voice, and expand the experience of your Talking Stick Circle.

A STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION is a way to expand and grow out of the past experiences of the Arts Scene that can be released using a democratic process that is quite ancient. 

This STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION is an ARTS CONVENTION with 10 Storytelling Circles, where people share hard learned lessons of their experience as artists and leaders of this Arts Scene.

Storytelling is NOT pointing the finger of blame, because three fingers of our hand point back to you.  A Storytelling Circle is where we share what was our own unique path, as we lived our story, and this perspective allows others listening to discern and decide for themselves their pathway.

The storytelling inside you can spin a tale of an Arts Scene that will expand the space of prosperity, develop your talents as artists, and grow the circle of artists who make their living as artists. 

Today's 10 Talking Stick Circles weave a STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION together with more enchanted of our Arts Scene, growing in this Land of Enchantment called New Mexico.

A STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION that uses Talking Stick Circles opens a sacred space for the Arts Scene to change, transform, grow, and prosper. 

I have this theory of the relationship between dead narratives, living stories, and a word I invented, 'antenarratives.'   Ante is a bet about the future. An ante is a living story before it becomes a dead narrative.

A dead narrative becomes a fossil. It is a way to cling to the past. A dead tree trunk has petrified rings. We can petrify the Arts Scene by clinging to dead narratives of what once was, and tell dead narratives of why there is no opportunities. Or we can engage in acts of antenarrative, to release living story from the bondage of the past. 

It is the realignment of dead narrative and living story through processes of antenarrating that brings about what Nietzsche called monumental history, a future not clinging to antiquarian past, or so critical of the present, it cannot move forward into the future. 

Since Aristotle Western Narrative has exercised a need to control the living story, to set a linear path for walking it, to stop exploring in ways that are self-organizing, daring, and exciting.

Western narrative control fossilizes the living story process, deadening our ability to adapt to change. The Talking Stick is a way to overcome deadening narratives that keep repeating the past. Narrative expectations are too rigid, resulting in a future that only repeats patterns of the past, that were fit for quite a different situation. 

The beauty of an antenarrative is that it's not control path that keeps living story from exploring possible ways into the future.  An ANTE is a bet about finding a new and different pathway to walk into the future.  An ANTE is the living story before all the fossilization deadens it.  An antenarrative bet about this Arts Scene, for example, is that it is evolving and growing to a new an unanticipated phase of its evolution.  

Narrative control tries to predict everything, control the path, enforce a regime onto the future that is traced out of past ways of weaving living stories together.  Antenarratives are all about surprise, discovery, and taking a risk on walking a new living story.

ANTENARRATIVE QUESTION: What are storytelling leaders of the Arts Scene willing to make as antenarrative bets, that the dream-weaving we do today will expand the Living Story Spaces of Arts Scene prosperity.  

Today is the 1st of three Mondays in September where we unleash the power of storytelling. It will require courage to let go of dead narratives of our past Arts Scene and make some Antenarrative bets about the Living Stories that is possible for this Arts Scene to achieve. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Emergent Stories

Four D's of Storytelling Organizations

Storytelling Organizations

The relationship between linear narratives with their Beginning, Middle, and End (BME) form are only part of what makes a STORYTELLING ORGANIZATION.  The BME narratives tend to focus on the past, in a backward look. Opposing BME narratives are what we call "living stories" and "antenarratives." 

A living story is part of a web of stories.  Living stories are not a performance for an audience. Living stories are what we live, how our story interplays with other's living stories. 

An antenarrative is a double meaning. "Ante" is a 'before' a before narrative wholeness, and all that BME linearity.  And "ante" is a 'bet.' Its a bet that before there is narrative, in all their static, petrified presence, there is a swarm of antenarratives, that look forward, making prospective sense.

Storytelling Organizations are many types of sensemaking currencies.  Certainly there are people who use BME narratives, taking their cue from Aristotle who thought the narrative should be whole, and have BME. Then there is the living story web that is sensemaking in the Now and Here. 

The antenarratives are self-organizing, moving from context to context, but unlike the BME narrative, leaving bits off, forgetting to take bits to the next telling, and picking up bits from each context.  So antenarratives are quite dynamic.

The three kinds of storytelling make up the dynamics of the Storytelling Organizations.

There is more about it at