When all else fails, find a friend who’s making a podcast.

According to Sean Ang, my first-guest-turned-co-producer-and-co-host, that is the lesson of our first episode. Sean, a violinist and classical vocalist, was preparing for graduate school this year. Now with those plans derailed indefinitely, they find themselves with an opportunity to reflect on the direction previously laid out for them, and what a post-COVID career in classical music might look like and mean.

The pandemic has devastated every industry, but for those of us creatives who are just finishing our educations and beginning our careers, it’s hit particularly hard. The tools of career- and network-building we rely on to jump start our careers — professional seminars, museums and galleries, public shows, conventions, and other events — have all been put on hold; all while the careers in museums and academia many of us were chasing are quickly disappearing, with no sign they’ll return. Pile this on top of the colossal student loan debt, unraveling democracy, and deteriorating climate defining the future of our generation and the generations that follow and it becomes difficult to find reasons to even get out of bed.

But just as Sean is finding opportunities in these calamitous times to reevaluate his career path, all Millennial artists have been given an unprecedented opportunity to redefine not only their own futures, but the entire elite system of creative, academic, and fine art institutions here in the US. The old institutions — which have turned failing us into a capitalist enterprise — are rapidly collapsing under the weight of their own machinations. We have the opportunity to shape what comes next in such a way that no future generation experiences this level of economic or professional hopelessness. We need only find the collective will to do so.

I started this podcast for two reasons. The first was to share and uplift the conversations working artists and creatives actually have with each other away from the academic and institutional spaces in which most people encounter fine art. There is nothing more unnatural than art-speak, and that becomes clear when artists are allowed to speak about their work in plain English with another, equally passionate human being. But just as importantly, I wanted to create a space for those same working artists to elevate the issues and ideas they believe actually matter; topics they believe should be driving contemporary art and culture. That is, after all, the first step in reshaping the art world as we know it.

Thank you for listening,
Mason Hershenow

If you or someone you know is an artist who’d like to be on the show, or if you’d like to suggest a topic for future discussions, you can email the show or message us on Twitter.

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