What is 21CA?

Welcome to the 21CA Think Tank! Inspired by my class at The University of Denver that is called “21st Century Artistry” or “21CA” for short, this is a place that I would love to see a robust discussion and sharing of ideas take place. In our class, we have a guiding mantra: “Survive and Thrive” defined thusly:

SURVIVE: make a living where you can take care of your basic needs, have a home, benefits and retirement.

THRIVE: Take care of your artistic heart-and-soul by creating and performing at the highest possible levels.

I believe that it is imperative for a 21st Century artist to do BOTH of these things. One without the other just don’t cut it!

I am part of a large number of musicians who got their start in the 20th Century when the landscape was VASTLY different for artists. Just think about THAT one for a minute: record labels staffed with development and support people for artists, record labels that had funding to support artists so that artists could focus on the music, record stores, RECORDS, managers, revenue streams, people actually PURCHASING music …all common place in the 20th Century….and now, all gone.

What do we do now?

Well, I have reason to believe that all is NOT lost for artists in the 21st Century. For one, live music has become more important. How cool is that? And there are MANY more positive things going on. Indeed, I believe that we stand on the verge of a new creative renaissance.

And then there is the joke:

“I have some good news and bad news”

The good news: “The playing field is now even for all artists! We are completely in charge of our own artistic identities and destinies.”

Homie Woo Hoo

The bad news: “The playing field is now even for all artists! We are completely in charge of our own artistic identities and destinies.”

HomerSimpson

So….what can we do? Well, I believe (having seen it happen before in the 1960s and ’70s) that we can change the world. Naive? Perhaps. Positive? Always. So, let’s do it! With our combined experiences and ideas, we can all pull together and sort this out.

Therefore: please respond to the blog posts and add your brilliance to the discussion. I look forward to seeing what we all come up with!


Steve Wiest
Multiple Grammy-Nominated Performer-Composer-Author-Cartoonist
Co-Chair: Jazz Studies Department, The Lamont School of Music
The University of Denver

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