Stake in the Ground

Crazy.  I just got out of a meeting with Hata Sensei, a former Prime Minister of Japan, who wants to help find a way to produce this Taiwanese show.  He referred me to the Ministry of Culture, where I met with three very helpful gentlemen who explained to me that as much as they would like to help me, their function is actually to act as exporters of Japanese content but then set up a meeting for me at the National Theater tomorrow.

The Rocker asked me about what trick I use to meet so many government people.   It’s all because of The Activist, actually, and she says the most important thing is to have a strategy.  In a sense, it’s just networking, but The Activist makes is a bit of an art and I’m just starting to get the hang of it now thanks to her.  Mostly, it’s going to as many functions as possible, not letting people say no to meeting, and walking out of every meeting with at least two more contacts in the calling card case.

After the meeting with Hata Sensei, The Designer invited The Activist and I to nice fresh Cuban cigars and some great grand marnier and rum at party in an Omote Sando basement.  Unfortunately, The Activist doesn’t like cigar smoke, but when we offered to change places, she insisted that we stay because she had work she needed to get done anyways.

She has been a great mentor and has a totally unique approach to business here.  She has a beautiful tendency to get involved in the real art of the project whereas other business people seem only interested in profit margins and the bottom line.  She’s great at talking with arts organizations or philanthropists who are interested in supporting the arts.  I’m curious to see how well this approach works in the more corporate world.

She is giving so much time and energy to this project even though she’s been a bit sick.  For example, today, she drove me around to see offices that we could use as a Japanese base despite feeling ill and not quite liking the offices we were seeing.  I was impressed by her attention to detail in this matter and feel bad that I don’t have as strong an opinion about the office as she seems to.  I feel very stupid about such things, but she is a very good resource and is teaching me quite a bit about how business works in Japan.  I’ve been telling her to take it easy, that she must not sacrifice her health for what we are trying to do.  I don’t want her to burn out and be unhappy.   Without her help, I would have nothing now.  She is doing all the giving, and I need to find ways that I can make her job easier as this work is getting to be quite a bit for two people.

I have not had more than a couple minutes free since the last time I saw her – I am working or training from 7am to 12 am.  It is exhausting, but this project is very important to me.  Ironically, even though I need to keep The Activist updated, I kept telling myself ‘wait to write her until you finish this next little thing…’  Finally, I decided that enough is enough and wrote her today even though the website and the video are still not ready to show.
Now that I’ve gotten things as far as I think I can on the business end of things, I have the luxury of meeting with people more concerned with the cultural value of things.  Much more rewarding and its much easier for me to talk to people who are artists first and business people a distant second (but they still want these letters of introduction to know who the fuck I am).  The Activist has been meeting and introducing me to so many arts organizations and producers like a theater collective based in Nagoya that is interested in the Taiwan project.  What’s interesting is that they might be able to arrange a theater for us no problem.  This way if we could manage a ‘first step’ showing of a weekend or two and make it incredibly successful and popular and cool, we could back for a long-term engagement more easily.  They also gave me some good advice saying that if I call it ‘contemporary acrobatic dance’ instead of ‘circus’ I would find a lot more cultural partners who would otherwise be alienated by the negative and commercial connotations of ‘circus’ here in Japan.

Life progresses here as it should, naturally, I guess, with those precious few uncommon days popping up between all the common ones to remind me that there is a reason to be on this rotating clump of dirt, mud, and brine after all.

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