I have been thinking about writing this post for a while but I was worried I would sound whiny. However, the questions need to be asked. Please know that I really want to know what you think.
I am a teacher and an artist. I am equal parts teacher and artist. I love both aspects of my career but my teacher keeps feeling like a failure. I am not whining about a lack of students. I am already moving in new directions because of this sad trend. I do however, want to understand how you think.
Being a teacher in the mixed-media art/craft industry is not a piece of cake. Developing classes, experimenting with materials, writing articles and tutorials is exciting work for me and incredibly time consuming not to mention expensive. I often work for months to research, design and craft what I think is a great class. I unveil the class, put it up at a store or a retreat and while many say...oh that is so cool. Very few students sign up.
When enough people don't sign up for a class it has to be canceled. The people who did sign up are disappointed but two people can't support the effort of the teacher and a class with only two students lacks the dynamic energy that makes classes so much fun and deepen the learning experience. The store loses out as well. Those of you who have lost all of your local quilt shops or art stores know that lack of class attendance was part of their death knell.
When classes at retreats are canceled it can really wreak havoc with the event schedule and for students who have made travel arrangements which can't be refunded. A teacher at a retreat also has expenses and if she doesn't have enough students to cover her expenses and provide some income she simply can't travel to teach. At some events in the last year students have waited until the last minute to sign up for workshops and then get upset when they find the workshop was cancelled due to low enrollment. We feel like we can't win.
We teachers, store owners and event organizers talk about the 'why' all the time: not enough advertising? bad economy? boring classes? too much free stuff on YouTube? Do the classes look too hard? Do the classes look too easy?
The other think we teachers discuss is how do we create an income if students aren't taking classes? Many are looking at leaving the industry. The number of retreat swelled in numbers for a while which hurt attendance but now there are fewer retreats and still fewer students. These retreats can't stay in business if they don't have students.
What are we doing wrong?
Maybe we aren't doing anything wrong. Maybe you simply don't want classes anymore. Maybe you simply don't make the time for fun anymore? Maybe you are satisfied with what is available for free on-line. Maybe you are bored with me/us?
So, I am asking you.
Why do you take classes?
Why don't you take classes?
Why don't you attend retreats?
Why do you attend retreats?
Do you get enough information on-line?
Do you prefer on-line classes to real life classes?
Do you think classes are too expensive?
First of all, I appreciate what you offer through youtube and your site.
As far as your questions are concerned, I feel the cost of travel makes it difficult for some to travel. On another level, I feel the online way of teaching may become more prevalent with our changing times. Hopefully that could also include a teleseminar, so questions that would come up during a retreat, would be able to be address. Live streaming would be great, but that requires particular technology. But maybe teaching centers could offer that with the instructor.
We are a global village, which is wonderful as we meet, share ideas and can learn from one another. Being generous is what I see as a key ingredient for a happier world. When people come together in whatever way is possible and are willing to share freely and learn from one another, the Universe responds in like in different ways in our lives. Pathways open, that wouldn't normally open if we feel we have to protect ourselves. I've seen this happen over and over in my life as well in the lives of those I work with.
It is a big time to let go of our fears in our world today, and share the goodness, ideas. In that, inspiration opens. I know when someone shares some idea or insight with me, I feel more inspired, expansive, something lights up and some thing new is birthed.
Great thoughts and intriguing ideas Lori! I know some colleges are offering entrepreneur
degree specialties. Maybe combining that track with art would work?
Hmm - I need another project like I need a hole in my head, but this is my life we are talking about here! LOL I guess I will make some inquiries. I think you are in my area - would you teach in that venue?
I think teaching in the community college arena would be a great way bring together art and business Lori! Have you heard of AIR? http://www.airartsincubator.org/
I am working with the Colorado Springs team to build connection between business and art. Artists bringing creativity to businesses to improve the bottom line.
Deb, your answers are hardly irrelevant! As someone jumping into the retreat business your thoughts are important.
From all of my reading all of the replies and the many, many facebook posts about the topic, it seems that smaller events will be/are in demand from a desire level. Especially, smaller events where a person can really grow their artistic skills and not just make a project. Hopefully, I can teach for you one day. :-)
I hope your surgery goes well and you do indeed have a quick recovery! You have work to do in this world.
Thanks for your comments Janet! I agree that rather than treasuring what art and making adds to our lives society tends to consider it frivolous. That will swing back around though it will take time.
My on-line classroom is getting ready to open! We were trying to get it done last year but there is always more back-end tech work then one realizes.