The Column

Patrick’s Cabaret pulls together an an artist education workshop series for the rest of us

If you’re an artist living on the margins, you probably know about Patrick’s Cabaret; this queer-led organization regularly organizes fantastic nights of performance in all mediums with a strong focus on the artists who are most marginalized within the LGBTQ+ community.

If you’re an artist living on the margins, you are probably also well-versed with the gig economy and all of its pitfalls. Things like unsteady work, a stream of short-term gigs, and faulty training on how to “make it” or take care of yourself as an artist team up against us, making it difficult (to say the least) to survive as an artist, let alone prosper creatively or financially. Because Patrick’s Cabaret is so committed to providing space and education to artists, they’ve teamed up with Soo Visual Arts Center and Pangea World Theater to produce a series of five classes for artists and marginalized people to hone their skills and for working artists to share the knowledge they’ve amassed in their careers. The Artist Education Workshop series is in its second year currently.

Mike Curran, Patrick’s Cabaret Programming and Communications Intern (who is deeply involved in creating and producing this year’s series) says, “This workshop series is intended to hold space for knowledge-sharing, for artists to put their many knowledges to work in an open, peer-led environment. It means busting down silos and learning from one another. It means paying attention to knowledges and skills that are rarely shared in these sort of learning environments but that are necessary for many artists’ survival on the edge of culture. Between the overlapping communities of Patrick’s, Pangea, and SooVAC, there’s so much we’re able to gain from just being in a room for two hours together. Those knowledges have always been there, so this series is about creating the space for them to be shared.”

The company is furthermore committed to building resiliency for artists, and each workshop is encouraged to teach skills that allow artists to nurture and celebrate that resiliency in themselves.

Unfortunately, two workshops in this season’s series have already passed us by. Those were Lisa Marie Brimmer’s Maintaining Selfhood: Voice, Choice and Finding Equity in Collaboration and grey doolin’s Self Care for Artists: Identifying Needs, Implementing Practices.

Patrick’s wants workshop leaders to experiment, heal, and learn from this experience as well, so I reached out to Brimmer about her experience leading this critical workshop on Voice, Choice, and Finding Equity.

“It was a healing and an honor to be up in the warm and nurturing walls of Pangea and connect and reflect with folx. People who were also experiencing the urgency of maintaining their selfhood and showing up, or keeping their time.”

Brimmer’s workshop extensively covered boundaries when collaborating with other artists and expressed the importance of expressing your voice in that work. That workshop also allowed for some more open creative time, allowing participants to write and share.

Another incredibly key component to surviving in the alternative economy that artists and marginalized people create and work in is knowing when to step back and take care of yourself — and not your work. I spoke to workshop instructor doolin shortly before Self Care for Artists on November 11th regarding preparation for that class.

“I’m teaching this workshop on self-care because as marginalized folks, we spend a lot of resources on a daily basis on visibility, safety, healing, surviving, and getting our basic needs met. All of that can be really exhausting and doesn’t often leave a lot of room for thriving–for wellness, for our vessels being more full than empty. I wanted to teach a workshop from the perspective of wellness rather than depletion. From the perspective of agency, even if that means someone carving out 15 minutes a day for some mindfulness or writing practice. I want to model us healing ourselves–both individually and within community.”

Both classes so far have met or exceeded the Cabaret’s expectations for success both in attendance and experience. Brimmer sums up said experience as an instructor thus far. “It is so cool that a series by community artists and for community artists exists. What a gift. We really need each other in the deep kindred type sense, and any opportunity for folx to connect and hear and be heard by each other, without a performance or a deadline attached isn’t something we always have time for. This was special time and space.”

As someone who is actually preparing one of these workshops, I was excited to hear about doolin and Brimmer’s experiences. I’m developing a workshop on How to Make a Living as a Freelancer or Solo Entrepreneur, Really for Real that goes through the steps you should take before you start such a career, how to build that career, and how to maintain and succeed in that career from there. I’ve been a professional tarot card reader, theater artist, writer, and teacher/workshop leader exclusively for several years now with varying degrees of success along the way. I’m preparing a workshop that goes through practical skills like creating realistic business plans, managing multiple income streams, and saving enough for taxes. We’ll also talk about following your heart in your business, recovering from failed projects emotionally, and creating some semblance of work life balance. I want people to feel prepared for a career that can be incredibly risky but incredibly fulfilling, but I also want us to be able to vent about capitalism and create careers that allow for days off when we are sick, exhausted, or when our trauma is too much to carry. Hearing what a healing space this is from has been beautiful and affirming, and I’m excited to see what “a-ha!” and healing moments my class inspires for others. You can catch How to Make a Living as a Freelancer or Solo Entrepreneur, Really for Real on December 7th at 6:00 P.M. at Pangea World Theater. More details are available here.

Before my workshop though, Claire Avitabile from 20% Theatre Company is wrapping up the November sessions with Budgeting Your Art. Budgeting Your Art is as straightforward as it sounds, covering budget-building for both grant applications and personal/professional reasons. Avitabile covers everything you need to know to build budgets you can be comfortable with and confident in, including “what you need them for, what you may not realize you could use them for, and how to calculate and estimate and cover all the bases.” Avitabile also plans to provide some tips for maximizing your existing budget and the funds that are available.

Says Avitabile, “As Executive Director of 20% Theatre Company and our primary grant writer, I get asked to sit on a lot of grant panels for local arts funders. Often, these grants are for $5000 or $10000, but in the proposals I’m reading, the applicant artists or groups only ask for a portion of what is available – like $3000, or $7200. The money is there, though, and if they are struggling to think of what else they can add to their project budget in order to ask for the full amount of the grant, I want to help! I want to help artists learn more about what they can ask for, what they should be asking for, and how to understand the details of creating and managing production budgets – whether for big company shows, or small independent works. This is something I think about a lot, and am often helping friends and colleagues within the local arts community. I’ve been day dreaming of a way to share this thought process and information to a broader group, but as an introvert with social/speaking anxiety (which is possibly hard to believe being in theater – but so true), leading a big workshop at a big scary theater/arts conference on this subject is extremely intimidating. When Patrick’s Cabaret posted about this artist education series, for artists-teaching-artists, however, I jumped at the chance to lead this workshop idea with a smaller, more casual group of folks. Patrick’s Cabaret, like 20% Theatre, is so chill, relaxed. It’s also a queer-led and queer-focused organization, like 20% Theatre. So, in essence, this feels safe and cozy, like home.”

When asked for a sneak peek of what this workshop provides, Avitabile said, “My hope is that anyone who comes, even folks who hate this stuff or are intimidated by numbers and budgets, will leave with more appreciation for and understanding of the money side of artistic production. This is not a fundraising workshop, even though we will talk about grant budgets a little bit. I’m simply hoping to share some perspective and help artists understand what they need to be budgeting for regardless of funding, and then what the can and should budget for if there is funding potential!”

Registration for this always-timely workshop is here. The class takes place on November 21st at 6:00 P.M. at Soo Visual Arts Center.

Rounding out this year’s Artist Education Workshop Series is a fun skill-building class on zines from Alanna Stapleton and Zoe Cinel. Zines: A Crash Course walks us through what a zine is, how you can start creating zines, and why you should. I’ve written about zines before here at The Column, and still maintain that they are a crucial mouthpiece for marginalized people to be able to share their work cheaply and easily with the world at large. Stapleton and Cinel will teach some bookmaking techniques so you actually can make your own zine while empowering you to share your story in this way. Says Cinel about their upcoming class, “I think there is a real freedom to experiment or to just share your story with the zine format. As we prepare for this workshop, I’m mostly excited about the outcomes: to see how people respond personally, what kinds of topics they choose to write about, and the ways people will discover they can use zines in their own artistic practices.”

Stapleton adds, “Zines have such a rich history as a communicative and expressive tool utilized by underground movements and marginalized voices. I’m excited about teaching this workshop because I want to remind people that their voice matters, and zines are a powerful way to communicate the ideas you’re passionate about, no permission needed.”

Zines: A Crash Course finishes out this “semester” of workshops at Soo Visual Arts Center on Thursday, December 14th at 6:00 P.M. More information and registration are available here.

One thing that’s consistently frustrating to me as an artist and freelancer is the expense of skill-building and even community-oriented workshops. I vehemently believe that instructors and presenting organizations should be paid, and well, for their time and expertise. I also vehemently believe that if the people who need to see your workshop can’t come, well, that’s a pretty big problem. Patrick’s Cabaret (along with Pangea and SooVAC) want these workshops to be fully accessible, and that includes pricing. You can’t build an alternative economy if no one can afford to learn how to do it. As such, registration is just $5-10 suggested donation that covers some of the costs of providing this series, but there are scholarships available for those who can’t afford to come otherwise. Please reach out to Patrick’s Cabaret if that is the case for any of the remaining workshops. Snacks are available, and all classroom spaces are fully accessible.

The Column is a community-supported non-profit news, arts, and media organization. We depend on community support to continue the work of solid LGBT-centric journalism. If you like this article, consider visiting Give MN to make a contribution today.