Artistic Statement Tips

These tips are taken from CAG’s artistic statement discussion with President Tanya Bannister and performance coach Dana Fonteneau.
Watch the full video here!

What is an artistic statement?

  • An artistic statement is a short, condensed, written form of your vision or purpose as a musician and an artist.

Thoughts about why an artistic statement is important for you and anyone who works for you on behalf of your career:

  • Although your playing should, of course, be at the highest degree, it’s not the only thing that matters. Equally important are the human interactions artists have with their managers, presenters, and most importantly, their audience.
  • There’s been a recent shift in the industry, so that there are less gate-keepers and connections are direct and person-to-person. Artists are expected to take ownership of their own careers.
  • An artistic statement shows how you’re thinking. If you haven’t thought strategically about programming, venues, repertoire, audience, or what kind of impact you hope your playing will have, it’s very hard to differentiate yourself from all the other excellent musicians. Each person has a unique calling inside, and there’s lots of room for individuality, so let that show.
  • A great example is Yo-Yo Ma. He calls himself a citizen of the world, and he’s an artistic ambassador for humanity. His sustainability and longevity as an artist come from constantly reinventing himself around that same cause. His playing as a young person first got him attention, but it’s his vision that has sustained him through all these decades.

An artistic statement is an opportunity to show who you are, what you care about, the purpose of your music making and your artistic scope.

  • Research your favorite artists and look for inspiration in their projects.
  • Show the kinds of ideas and collaborations you are inspired by
    • Programming
    • Collaborations
    • Audiences and demographics you want to reach

Suggestions on how to write your statement:

  • Think about your past experiences. What specifically have you loved doing in the past and want to continue doing in the future?
  • Storytelling is a very powerful way to connect to others through shared human experience. When you speak from a heartfelt experience, the authenticity really comes through. Don’t hide behind facts, status, or stature. When you’re truly authentic, there is no right or wrong but a true showing of who you are.
  • Reflect on your top 3 most inspiring moments of your musical life, retell them like a movie, with all the specifics, and once you get reconnected, explain why these moments are important to you.
    • For ensembles, have each person do the exercise individually and then share the 3 memories amongst each other. Each person should then think about the top 3 memories with the group and share those. Linking the individual vision to the group vision will help articulate what makes the ensemble unique and what the group’s vision and purpose is.
  • There are two components to an artistic statement. The first is the personal vision, what makes you you, and your meaningful experiences. The second is the projects you’re excited about and the kind of platforms and opportunities you want to create professionally. Be sure to know what you do and don’t want.
    • Do you like to play salon style?
    • Do you like to interact with your audience in some way?
    • Collaborate with other musicians? Or actors or dancers?
    • What kind of repertoire would you like to play?

Top 3 points of advice:

  • A competition isn’t a starting place. It’s an ending place. By the time you get to the stage you are showing who you are and what you’re about: it’s a finished product that shows how your manager can sell you to presenters. In other words, it is a launching pad for what’s coming, so make sure you have a plan.
  • Make sure you really want it! Don’t just apply because someone is telling you to or because it’s the next logical step in your career. Apply with a purpose. Be musically, mentally and emotionally ready for what the prize will bring you.
  • At the end of the day, YOU MUST BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, YOUR ABILITY AND YOUR PURPOSE. While it can feel to get external validation, it doesn’t last long and no award or jury can give you a true sense of confidence, value or worth.