Like all of us, I struggle with time – or rather feeling like there isn’t enough of it. Perhaps that’s why I’m a big fan of Carl Honore. His book, In Praise of Slow, affirms so many things I believe in, and primarily the concept that things need to happen at their own right speed. Sometimes that means that we need to slow down, to give ourselves time to think things through and to be in the moment. More often, it might mean that we need to try to jam less “stuff”, fewer things to do, into the time we have. This sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, but the attempt can teach us much.
I believe that working with and around Artists can also teach us a lot about “slow”. While it’s often necessary to create Art in a short time span, we as Administrators don’t hesitate to do our very best to give Art the focus and time it deserves: think of the making of a piece of visual art, or the writing of a book or play. Even when there isn’t as much time as we want for creation (the two week rehearsal period, the short deadline, the one rehearsal with the conductor before the first concert or performance), one thing we almost always manage to ensure is a place to focus and at least try to let things happen at there own right speed. When I am privileged enough to observe a rehearsal, I am always impressed by the focus that envelops the room. That room becomes a place where little else exists and the most important thing is what is going on in that space at that moment.
I think that this can happen from time to time for us as administrators as well. It isn’t always possible with telephones ringing and other staff members needing to speak to us and constant e-mail, etc. But sometimes, I can get swept up in making a good case for a grant or report, or formulating a detailed strategy, or completing an analysis that turns my previous thought on something on its head. I believe this happens when I need to be creative and when I can access an atmosphere that allows me the time and space to focus (yes, it’s true, grant writing can be creative – in the good way that produces original thought). It is this space to focus that can allow our offices to become places where we can carve out space without interruption and – for a time – nothing exists but the Art. Is it possible to achieve this in our harried lives when things move so fast, the demands are so constant, and the resources so scarce? Perhaps not all the time, but I will argue that in some circumstances, it’s actually more efficient to turn everything off, shut the door if we can, and just focus. If nothing else, we are then trying to make the best conditions we can for all of us – Administrators and Artists – to create the best Art that we can.