This is column is inspired by another piece, written by our editor-in-chief, Chris Peterson. (Although, this is far from a response piece, and not quite the same issue).
I have a maxim borrowed from my best friend: “Friendship is a two-way street.” (This actually surfaced in a disagreement about how much I support(ed) my friends in the arts, and how much of it had been one-sided. “Friendship is a two-way street!” he told me. And he wasn’t wrong).
Friendship is a two-way street. Friendship is not an entitlement to unwavering, one-sided, support. Your friends are not an automatic, built-in fan club. It's exhausting when someone feels entitled to endless support and accolades, especially when they don't make any attempts at being decent friends in return.
Maybe we don't show up because you don't support any of our works--you don't share or support our projects. Maybe we don't show up because you never talk to us outside of sending us Facebook invites to your shows. You don't even call us to ask us how we're doing. You never text or call us back. Like, I get it. You’re “busy;” everyone is busy, and has a kid or a dog or a test or appointments or the barn is on fire and Little Jimmy’s in the well--whatever. Listen, I get that, but it literally takes less than 30 seconds to text someone back, “hey, I’ve been really busy, but it was GREAT to hear from you! Thank you for thinking of me!”
You have to support your friends back, especially your friends in the arts. It takes zero effort to share something on Facebook or to retweet something. Reciprocity is key. Yes, I understand that you have worked “really hard” on your show, but why is your own “hard work” more valuable than that of your friend, who probably worked just as “hard” on their [whatever it was]?
“Why aren’t people coming to my shows?” reads an awful lot like, “how DARE they not come to my shows!” Ask yourself these very honest questions: why do you want your friends coming to the show? Do you want them to come see you just so they can tell you how great you are, to have that ego boost of people being there to see *~you*~? Or do you want your friends there because something is special and important to you, and you want to share that with people you care about? When was the last time you supported them in on of their efforts? If you can’t answer that last question, therein lies the answer about why they’ve stopped showing up to see yours.
I assure you, if you treat the arts and friendships like two-way streets, they will come to see your shows. They will travel great distances to see you. They’ll spend $25-60 to see you as the argumentative, apple-throwing tree in THE WIZARD OF OZ for the whole whopping 6 minutes you’re on stage. Your friends love to love and support you, but you have to love and support them back. You have to make it worth it for them. Your friends should be your biggest supporters and fans, but give them a reason to be.