I am ecstatic to announce joycegriggs.com is LIVE and my first blog post is written for this special occasion. As we are approaching the start of a new school year, I want to reflect on the accomplishments of the past and the ambitions for the future. As an artist and arts advocate, I simultaneously aspire to create meaningful musical opportunities and encourage others to find viable pathways for pursuing their passion.

For several years, my work at the University of Illinois School of Music has involved working with prospective and current students. We eagerly and excitedly greet new students who have an unyielding passion for their art, but the conversation has been insular in many ways – hone your craft, specialize in your major, and with perseverance, dedication, and good luck, you’ll land on your feet. On several occasions, my colleagues and I have worked to create a series of classes and experiential opportunities for students to take creative, entrepreneurial risks within the safety of an academic environment. For a variety of reasons, our plans were delayed – until now! It began at the School of Music’s Fall Convocation –  Artists and Scholars as Entrepreneurs, with keynote speaker Angela Myles Beeching. As a School, our dialog will continue with a year-long guest speaker series and a School-sponsored competition that will provide seed money for selected students to present their art form in innovative ways and with a focus on diverse audiences and community engagement.

In many ways, artists have more outlets than ever before to reach an audience, engage with a community, and to build a diverse career that is rewarding and successful. With social media, websites, and Youtube, the world is ever-shrinking. One of my favorite examples, and organizations that embodies this belief, is PlayingforChange. We can use the power and resources of the worldwide web juxtaposed with the micro-communities (if you will) of where we live, to place the arts in an elevated position of our culture and society.

My lofty goals as an arts advocate centers on helping artists develop their product and attach value to it. What does this mean? It means understanding the benefits and costs associated with creating and sustaining a career in the arts. How do we build relevancy in a society where many products are considered to have no value or be unworthy of a ticket / subscription fee? How do artists manufacture their careers so that their diverse “portfolio” contains a manageable balance between high- and low-risk options. And, above all, how do artists develop their voice in order to demonstrate without question their relevancy in this world?

As an engaged artist. The evidence is undeniable. This blog will explore, question, and challenge these ideas. I hope you will join me in the conversation!