Arts and Education Council News
Three questions with Allyson Ditchey on technology and the arts
12 March, 2019
Catalyst Conversations continues with Spring into Innovation, a conversation with Allyson Ditchey, founder of Connect the Arts, hosted by Sheila Burkett, CEO of Spry Digital. Connect the Arts is an online support system for the arts where creative people gather, network and share ideas.
Ahead of the discussion on March 19, Ditchey shared with us thoughts on the intersection of arts and technology.
Where do you see the crossover between technology and the arts?
The tech world is far more creative than I ever realized. In hindsight, it’s obvious, but as an artist, specifically a stage director in opera, I was unaware of how much working on creating a platform or an app is similar to working with a cast to bring a story to life. It ignites that excitement of creating something from nothing and, in my favorite tech environments, process is valued over product. The team works together to tease out the details of what the platform should be, you’re constantly analyzing and empathizing with different perspectives, you’re not sure what the end result will be because you need real people, an audience, to complete the experience, and a work is never done — it is alive and constantly evolving.
What does creativity look like in technology versus the arts?
If I think about working in creativity as an artist, I feel a freedom that I don’t feel in my work in technology. The idea that I can create anything for any reason does not exist in my tech work, nor does an emphasis on emotional exploration or exploration of self. Those things have always been part of my artistic process and they don’t play the same role in creativity in tech. I think in tech your focus is often on pleasing your audience — you are building something to solve problems for them — whereas in art that is not often the goal.
Being an entrepreneur can be challenging — what are some helpful resources you’ve found?
I joined Brazen STL, a startup community that empowers women CEOs to grow their businesses, to make sure that I had some kind of support system after leaving our original team in San Francisco. As an entrepreneur, I quickly learned the value of building networks and support systems. While I do not believe the insecurities that accompany starting a business are unique to women, it has been important for me to hear the stories and challenges that other women are facing and learn how stereotypes and statistics impact how women perform in business, such as asking for less money, imposter syndrome and needing to be 110% sure of something before pitching it. These opportunities to engage with other women entrepreneurs helped me hold a mirror up to myself and gave me support and strength in my isolation. They’ve also broadened my networks and helped me understand how critical it is to work with people of all genders who you believe in and who believe in you.
Hear more from Allyson Ditchey and Sheila Burkett at Catalyst Conversations on March 19. Tickets are free, but registration is required.