On May 9, 2020, a company called The Hustling Creative held a virtual concert marathon which featured exciting performances and interactive classes by movement artists across the United States. The proceeds of this concert were given to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault violence organization. We interviewed Alex Palting, the Founder of The Hustling Creative, to talk more about her company and the project “Artists Against Domestic Violence.”

Alex Palting, DJ Corey Photography

1. What is your company, The Hustling Creative, all about?

The Hustling Creative was created to bridge the gap between the knowledge of a formal education and the wisdom to actually apply it. I started the company when I was twenty-three (I graduated with a music degree when I was twenty-one), because I was frustrated that colleges prepare artists so little for realities of making a living making art. Although I was taught the difference between major and minor scales, I was not taught the emotional elasticity necessary to getting rejected for a living while being vulnerable in auditions. Although I was taught how to sing piano and forte, I was not taught how to project confidence onstage with the knowledge that aspects of my personality, skill, and physical appearance would be subject to private and printed scrutiny. Additionally, I felt that I needed more guidance on what financial planning looks like, as well as how to navigate professional partnerships and what it means to be a leader not just onstage but off. But most importantly, I needed to know how to come up with my own idea of what success looks like and the tools to make that future for myself. Ironically, I found that creativity in the business world and not in my training as an artist.

Particularly for young people, people of color, and women in the arts, a mindset of luck and scarcity is ubiquitous. We’re taught that we’re lucky just for the opportunity to do what we love, we should be thankful for being given the time of day by “powerful people,” and unless you have a union to protect you, it is common to take work for no pay (I have never worked for free, but I’ve definitely worked for dirt cheap). These mindsets are toxic and I wanted another, more sustainable, more equitable, option. I want to retire. I want a family. I want equal opportunity, recognition and pay to my white, male colleagues. Most importantly, I want it for all the artists I work with, and all the artists who will come after me. I started a business because if I want those things, I have to go get them.

2. What made you create the project, “Artists Against Domestic Violence?”

Artists Against Domestic Violence was the second fundraiser that The Hustling Creative held in response to COVID-19. We felt that there are so many people who are suffering due to the pandemic, and that it would hit the most vulnerable populations. We wanted to create some kind of meaningful way that artists could use their gifts and share beauty with the world in order to create the energy, awareness, and donations needed to actually help people who are not safe at home. I wrote this article after our first fundraiser for Feeding America, and much of the mindset and intention is the same. 

3. What were the challenges while doing this project?

The most challenging part of putting the event together was the logistics and tech involved! I think the problem that I’m the most proud of us for solving was using the restrictions of copyright to our advantage. We knew that we wanted to highlight the work of movement artists, but it’s illegal to use copyright-protected recordings to accompany them. So we used this setback to involve musical artists as well, and we featured their performances on Instagram while the dancers performed on YouTube and Facebook. Collaborating like this allowed more exposure for more artists, new works of art created by individuals across the world as far as Washington, DC and Vienna, and connections and respect between potential professional collaborators.

4. What were your favorite moments while working on this project?

Jax (co-producer) and I have had many a night where we were up way too late and there was absolutely no filter, which is always fun. It’s like the delirium of tech week, where the lack of sleep and the huge amount of tasks to complete in such a short time actually bonds people and brings them together. But we also had so much fun watching the performances and getting to meet performers in real time along with our audience.

5. What were the goals of this project?

We wanted to raise money and awareness for the individuals trapped in domestic violence situations. Our subgoals were that we wanted to highlight the similarities between the need for safety at home and safety in the arts by involving theatrical intimacy directors, stage combatants and poets and activists. We also knew that artists were hungry to make new work, forge new connections, and feel that they were creating something meaningful and important for a larger audience.

6. Is there another project that we should be looking forward to for the future?

Due to the fundraisers we’ve hosted, we’re actually now being hired as event producers! We offer entertainment coordination and project strategy. One of our contracts right now is supporting the City of Charleston as they fundraise for small, POC- and women-owned businesses as they recover from COVID and the looting that has taken place there. We have a few nonprofit clients on the horizon as well.

I will also be keynoting a conference in Maryland once all this blows over. Jax and I were also asked to speak on a stage combat panel taking place online soon.

Day-to-day, the company is helping artists with their brand and marketing strategy and designing websites and logos. We are also offering business strategy coaching, working one-on-one with artists who are using this time to start their own businesses. 

Finally, we’re using this time to prepare for a future after COVID. Our goal is that as artistic companies rebuild, they do so with diversity, consent, and accessibility as their pillars, not just afterthoughts.

Learn more about The Hustling Creative by following them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehustlingcreative