What happens when the artistic "hit" is over?
What happens when the author has to sit down and write the book AFTER the last one was a best seller?
What happens when a museum has to close the best selling exhibition ever?
What happens when a theatre (like the one I work at) closes a show where tickets are flying out the door and has to move on to the uncertainty of the next piece?
It can be a very complicated moment. Success in the arts is such an intoxicating thing, partially because it is so rare, and it's natural to yearn for that feeling again.
I've seen very strong efforts labelled as failures just because they had the misfortune of following an outsized victory.
What I've learned through experience is that managing expectations AFTER a hit is key. Where I work I'm pretty notorious for not for getting caught up in the wave of positive energy that comes from a hit, even though it's a wave my team has played a part in creating.
Instead I immediately start talking about the next thing. I start celebrating the ticket sales of the next thing even if they are only 3% of the thing we have going on. I remind people that the ride we are on will be over soon.
Does that make me a buzzkill? Maybe. But I think it's important for us in the arts to remember that success AND failure in the arts are temporary states. It's also important for us to remember that success and failure are relative.
Don't get me wrong, you should enjoy the good times but all of us are on a long career/organizational arc and the next thing should never suffer because of good (or bad) times now.
Manage the emotions, manage the expectations and also be ready to move on to the next thing.
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