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Balance Between Business And Family

By Connie Barnett

When I graduated from college with a degree in THE ARTS... I had no idea just HOW VALUABLE this degree would be for me...later down the road. I come from a musical family - all of us are singers and instrumentalists, my sister is also a wonderful artist, my brother a cartoonist, and I found out that I could do just about anything. How did this lead me to my own home business? I am about to describe.

I was a professional actress, nightclub singer, and opera singer during my college days and immediately about graduating I joined a professional opera company until I decided to "find my fortune" in New York. I immediately joined the Metropolitan Studio and began to perform in regional companies in the United States and Europe. But when I married and started a family. I really felt that my most important priority was to be home with my children and enjoy that all too short period when they were little. I am so glad that I did. I designed a show all about my musical/dramatic life called "The Music Show" which I booked into schools in the tri-state area and also in Rhode Island where I had been an artist-in-residence for 6 years. This was my first foray into working for myself and it was very successful. I "unfortunately" fell into artistic management... I said unfortunately, but it was only so because it took me away from my 3 kids ...to a 70 hour a week job, traveling and exhaustion by the time I got home at night. THIS WOULD BE THE CATALYST TO MY OWNING MY OWN BUSINESS. When my daughter was diagnosed with severe depression and my marriage fell apart, I took a deep breath and said to myself "I can't stay in this job - it's ruining my entire life". With the business acumen I had gathered combined with my diverse artsy experience,also being a professional artist ... and the "motherly warmth" in my nature.. I bought a computer, a fax, stationery, made business cards... and put out the word. What I did was actually what I had been doing for about 15 years for friends, artists I managed and myself... being an arts consultant.

It amazed me how the ideas and projects appeared through word of mouth. I also put an ad in an opera trade magazine to say I was in business and actually was interviewed about what I created... in the opera world this didn't exist. I was a liaison between artists and management. I AM AN ARTS CONSULTANT AND PUBLICIST. I define that as any project that really interests me. I also coach artists in their physical, dramatic, and musical production but I would keep that to hours that the kids were in school so I could take them and be home when they got home. I create projects for artists, visual, theatrical and musical... as they need it.

You name it... I help them to shape their careers at all levels. I meet with artists or talk on the phone (basically musical artists/actors etc) and that involves creating all kinds of press pieces - press releases, postcards, redoing their bios, resumes, advising on photographs, putting press packets together, creating data bases, doing mail merges etc. I love phone consultations because I can be home in the evenings on the weekend and more available to my kids. I go into New York where I actually meet with the artists, attend dress rehearsals at the opera companies in New York, discuss their career plans - advise and coach their performances.

It brings me tremendous pleasure, affords me flexibility, I answer to myself, I don't have to "cover up" or protect a boss, I can design the projects so I put a certain amount of hours per day per each project at my own rate. I charge hourly rates for consultations and a composite rate which we discuss for longer projects to make it cost effective and profitable for myself, but not to "break their bank".

My kids are all doing well... now teenagers. I know that they appreciate that I have been here and much more available. I am happiest because my work is diverse... it covers all the arts, not just one area which my arts management did -- that being opera.

I just took on a new project; at first I get overwhelmed and scared, there are no rules. I create them and MAKE THE PROJECT INDIVIDUALIZED PER EACH PERSON. I create a new data base for each project... I write cover letters and then the creative part begins... I do follow-ups on phone and fax to complete the project and then give the artists a print-out of the work and the update of my follow-up. Many people have stayed with me for the 8 years I have been in business.

I am not rich, but I am very happy and will be glad to advise anyone about starting a business and keeping it alive.

Please write to me... I look forward to hearing from you.

Connie Barnett
email address: Connie1195@aol.com

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