Collaboration: The Key to Creativity for Mother Artists

Collaboration: The Key to Creativity for Mother Artists

Collaboration is Key

Mothers Institute for Collaboration and Art (MICA) is screaming for collaboration. Collaborating is invaluable for artists for innovation, creativity, and community. As we know, parents who are artists have unique circumstances; the caretaking of children takes up your time, to be blunt. When you become a parent, suddenly, you’re responsible for the well-being and future of a vulnerable human life. For most parents, this means you’re looking at the world from a different lens.

Heck, you’ve got neuroplasticity changing up your brain. It also means that whatever life you had created now needs to fit kids into it. So, if you’re an artist, well, finding time to create is even more precious than before.

Balancing the Two Sides of Parent Artists

Getting out of the caretaker’s head and into the artist’s head can be challenging. However, as artists, we must! The world depends on us. Listen, we know collaboration has long been a thing of art, and now, other industries have caught on. By the way, the Washington Post article linked talks about the five things Gen Z wants in the workplace:

1.  Customized career paths,

2.  Constant opportunities to learn,

3.  Purpose-driven work,

4.  Flexible work arrangements,

5.  Collaborative environments.

Hello? That is exactly what (Gen X) MICA founder Lyza Fennell is all about. Collaborating on projects can be particularly advantageous for parents to balance their creative practice with parenting responsibilities.  Finding time to create is a major challenge for parents, with all the obligations that come with parenting today.

The Benefits of Collaboration for Mother Artists

The benefits of collaboration are numerous! Here are a few ways to consider how it can help:

      • Providing support and community: artists can feel isolated and alone in their creative journey. Collaboration can give them a supportive community of fellow artists who understand their challenges.  Sometimes isolation is good, but not always.
      • Reducing time commitments: collaborating with others can help reduce your workload and save time for other important tasks. This is especially helpful if you have limited time to create art.
      • Expanding creative possibilities: Collaboration can help mother artists expand their creative possibilities. By bringing in new ideas and perspectives from other artists, you can push the boundaries of your art and create something truly innovative.

In other words, collaboration is a valuable approach that offers several benefits and serves as a support system for artist parents. By working together, these talented individuals can share ideas, resources, and experiences, which can help them overcome the challenges of balancing their creative pursuits and parental responsibilities. Therefore, this collaborative approach can also create a more inclusive environment within the arts community, where everyone can feel supported and empowered to pursue their passions.

Group of women standing and listening enthusiastically.

The Pathway to Collaboration

Time is precious when you are a parent and artist. There are so many demands on your time, and finding the time to create art can be hard. But collaboration can be a pathway to making art even when you’re busy.

Collaboration can help parent artists overcome the challenges of balancing their creative practice with parenting responsibilities in several ways. For example, collaboration can:

      • Overcoming creative blocks: Sometimes, mother artists can get stuck in a creative rut. Collaboration can help them break out of this rut by giving them new ideas and perspectives.
      • Learning new skills: Collaboration can be a great way to learn new skills from other artists. This can help mother artists grow as artists and create even more amazing work.
      • Building a network: Collaboration can help mother artists build their network of contacts in the art world. This can lead to more opportunities to exhibit and sell their art.

In other words, it is a powerful tool to help artists who are parents overcome the challenges of balancing their creative practice with parenting responsibilities. It’s a great way to gain support and community, reduce time commitments, expand creative possibilities, overcome creative blocks, learn new skills, and build your network.

inspiration, teamwork, collaboration, success, trust

Types of Collaboration

On-site collaboration: On-site collaborations such as artist residencies and workshops offer a hands-on experience. These immersive programs provide a unique opportunity to work closely with other artists, learn new techniques, and gain inspiration.

Virtual collaboration: In today’s digital age, virtual collaboration is growing increasingly popular. Online platforms allow you to connect with artists from around the world. You could collaborate on a digital art project, host a virtual workshop, or organize an online art exhibition.

Collaboration: A Catalyst for Innovation

Collaboration can be a catalyst for innovation. Individuals can pool their diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise by working together to generate new and creative ideas, such as a group of artists with different backgrounds and skills could collaborate on a project to create a new form of art that combines elements of different disciplines.

Here are some specific examples of how collaboration can benefit mother artists:

Workshopping: Workshops can be a great way for mother artists to learn new skills, share ideas, and get feedback from other artists.

Critique groups: Critique groups can be a supportive and constructive way for mother artists to get feedback on their work.

Weekly meetings: Weekly meetings with other mother artists can provide a much-needed support system and accountability for them trying to balance their creative practice with their parenting responsibilities.

Successful forms of collaboration can lead to a more dynamic and productive environment where different voices and opinions are valued and leveraged for the greater good.

Ultimately, the power of collaboration lies in its ability to bring people together, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose that can drive real change and progress.

Finding the Right Collaborators

Finding the right collaborator can be daunting, but it’s essential for mother artists who want to collaborate effectively. Finding people who share your artistic vision and goals is important when looking for collaborators. You also want to find people who are reliable, hardworking, and easy to get along with.

Here are a few tips for finding the right collaborators:

      • Attend art events and join art organizations. This is a great way to meet other artists and learn about their work.
      • Reach out to artists whose work you admire. Send them a message or email and introduce yourself.
      • Look for collaborators online. There are many websites and online forums where artists can connect with each other.

Once you’ve found a few potential collaborators, getting to know them better is important. Meet up with them in person and talk about your work. This will help you to see if you’re a good fit for each other.

Here are a few questions you can ask potential collaborators:

      • What are your artistic goals?
      • What are your strengths and weaknesses as an artist?
      • What are you looking for in a collaborator?
      • How do you like to work?

If you find that you have a good rapport with a potential collaborator and share similar goals, you’re well on your way to a successful collaboration.

Social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook can also be useful tools to connect with other artists around the globe. You can search for hashtags related to your art form or interests and likely find other artists using those hashtags. You can also join groups on social media for artists; this is a great way to connect with other artists interested in collaborating.

five women meeting inside at table

Balancing Artistic Endeavors and Parenting

Juggling your artistic pursuits with motherhood can be challenging but not impossible. Here are a few tips for balancing these two important parts of your life:

      • Set boundaries. It’s important to set boundaries between your artistic and parenting time. This means setting aside specific times each day or week for your art and sticking to those times as much as possible. It also means not letting your parenting responsibilities seep into your artistic time and vice versa.
      • Manage your time effectively. This is essential for any busy parent, but it’s especially important for mother artists who want to make time for their art. Several time management techniques, such as batching tasks and using a planner, can be helpful.
      • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family, and friends. This can free up some of your time to focus on your art.

In this way, collaboration can help, as shared projects can divide the workload and offer mutual support. Find other mother artists who are also passionate about their art and work on projects together. This can be a great way to get support and feedback, and it can also help you to stay motivated.

Want to Collaborate with Non-Artists?

Artists and non-artists can benefit greatly from collaboration. Artists can bring their creativity and vision to the table, while non-artists can provide expertise in other types of new technologies, processes, and fields of knowledge. This can lead to innovative and exciting new art that would not be possible without collaboration.

Here are some examples of how artists can collaborate with non-artists:

      • With technologists and scientists: Artists can collaborate with technologists and scientists to create new and engaging art that uses cutting-edge technology. This could involve creating interactive installations, virtual reality experiences, or augmented reality artworks.
      • With educators: Artists can collaborate with educators to create new and engaging art education programs. This could involve developing a new curriculum, leading workshops, or creating interactive art installations.
      • With community organizers: Artists can collaborate with community organizers to create art addressing social and environmental issues. This could involve creating murals, public art installations, or theater productions.
      • With businesses: Artists can collaborate with businesses to create art promoting their products or services. This could involve designing logos, creating marketing materials, or developing interactive exhibits.

There are many other possibilities for collaboration between artists and non-artists. The key is to be open to new ideas and to think outside the box. By collaborating with others, artists can have a greater impact on the world and make a difference in the lives of others.

group shot artist moms and kids

Where Do You Find the Collaborators?

Collaboration is essential for mother artists who want to take their art to the next level. By collaborating with other artists, mother artists can share ideas, learn new skills, and get feedback on their work. They can also build a community of support and accountability.

There are many places where mother artists can find collaborators. Here are a few suggestions:

        • Online communities: There are many online communities where mother artists can connect with each other and find potential collaborators. Some popular online communities include Meetup, Facebook groups, and Twitter.
        • Conferences and workshops: Attending conferences and workshops that bring together professionals from various fields is an excellent way to network with potential collaborators and stay current on the latest technologies and trends.
        • Reach out to local organizations: Many local organizations support collaboration between artists. Reaching out to these organizations is a great way to find collaborators in your area.

Finding collaborators can be daunting, but it’s essential for mother artists who want to collaborate effectively. Mother artists can find collaborators who share their artistic vision and goals by following the tips in this section.

It's Time to Get Out There and Collaborate

Collaborating with other artists can greatly enhance your artistic practice. It can broaden your creative range, expose you to different styles and techniques, and provide a platform to share and exchange ideas.

Moreover, it can help you build a network of like-minded individuals who can provide support, feedback, and encouragement.

Remember, your creativity does not have to be a solitary journey. Collaboration can open doors to new possibilities and experiences.

So, step out, reach out, and embrace the power of working together. Your art, your passion, and your creative journey deserve it.

Artist moms, are you ready to take your creativity to the next level? Collaboration is the key to unlocking new ideas, expanding your artistic horizons, and building a supportive community. Comment below, tell us what you’re thinking about or your experiences with collaborations.

Want to Join our Collaborative in Northampton, MA?

Email us or comment below today!


Future World-building Depends on Artists and Collaborative Networks” By Kamal Sinclair; National Endowment for the Arts.

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Theatre: A Man’s World, But What About Mothers?

Theatre: A Man’s World, But What About Mothers?

Mothers in Theatre: The Double Bind

Theatre has long been a male-dominated institution. From the actors on stage to the directors and producers behind the scenes, men have traditionally held power in the theatre world. But what about mothers?

Mothers who work in theatre often face a double bind. They are expected to be just as dedicated to their work as their male counterparts, but they are also expected to be the primary caregivers for their children. This can be a difficult balance to strike, leading to significant stress for mothers.

The theatre industry often overlooks the challenges that mothers face. Work schedules are often long and unpredictable, and childcare can be expensive and difficult to find. As a result, many mothers feel like they have to choose between their careers and their families.

Generation X woman (mom) with upscale hair ready for her scene

This is a problem for mothers and the theatre industry as a whole. Mothers bring a wealth of experience and talent to the table, and their absence is a loss to the field.

The theatre industry needs to do more to support mothers. This means providing flexible work arrangements, offering childcare assistance, and creating a more family-friendly culture. It also means changing the way that we think about motherhood. Motherhood is not a liability; it is an asset.

When we value the work of mothers, we make the theatre industry a better place for everyone.

Photographic portrait of actor mom with a spotlight on background

The Work-Life Balance Dilemma for Mothers in Theatre

The theatre industry has long ignored mothers’ challenges balancing work and family responsibilities. This is because motherhood is often seen as a personal rather than a professional issue. As a result, mothers often feel pressure to “appear” childless to be taken seriously in their careers.

This pressure can be incredibly stressful, leading to several negative consequences for mothers in theatre. For example, women who are mothers may be less likely to be hired or promoted, and they may also be more likely to experience burnout.

This is unacceptable.

Mothers are an essential part of the theatre industry, and they deserve to be treated with respect. We must start by recognizing that motherhood is not just a personal issue. It is also a professional issue, significantly impacting women’s ability to succeed in their careers.

Once we acknowledge this, we can make the theatre industry more supportive of mothers. This means providing flexible work arrangements, offering childcare assistance, and creating a more family-friendly culture.

We need to do better for mothers in theatre.

They deserve successful careers without choosing between work and their families. We need to create an industry that welcomes and supports mothers so they can reach their full potential.

Theater as a Tool for Social Change: Marie NDiaye's Theater of the Mothers

French playwright Marie NDiaye uses her work to explore the role of mothers in a patriarchal society. Her plays often feature mothers made to make difficult choices to protect their children. NDiaye’s work is important because it gives voice to the experiences of marginalized women and challenges the traditional view of motherhood as a selfless act.

NDiaye’s plays are metadramas, meaning they reflect on the nature of theater itself. This is evident in how her plays often feature mothers compelled to play roles prescribed by society. For example, in the play Papa Doit Manger, the mother is driven to sacrifice her own needs to care for her husband and children. This role is both physically and emotionally demanding, ultimately leading to her death.

NDiaye’s work is a powerful reminder of how theater can be used to challenge patriarchal oppression. Her plays offer a critical view of how society expects mothers to behave, showing how these expectations can be harmful. By interrogating the role of theater in the oppression of mothers, NDiaye’s work shows how theater can raise awareness of social issues and offer a path toward social change.

Mother working at home with baby reading email from theatre company

Join Us in Supporting Mothers in Theatre

Gender discrimination is prevalent in all professions, and exorbitant childcare costs and lack of availability continue to struggle when caregivers need to work. Our social order still runs on an outmoded conception, assuming that one parent is at home.

However, theatrical motherwork goes beyond working parents’ everyday struggles in fulfilling the theatre’s unique demands, from production schedules to fundraising, promotional, and networking events. These are all predicated on the idea that the theatre professional is available around the clock. There can be an attitude within the theatre, as well, that when one becomes a parent, there are unstated consequences for the decision.

Further, theatre professionals who have children need to create the illusion that they can work any time and any number of hours to stay in the race, yet if they do that, they feel they are sacrificing their children, and guilt ensues. It takes careful planning and negotiations on the parent’s part; balance is difficult. Support is not here yet.

Mothers in Theatre: The Unpaid Work

Mothers in theatre need to make difficult choices and many sacrifices. Being part of a play, which historically does not pay much, means that any money would go toward a babysitter; therefore, it stops becoming a means for income but rather a non-paying hobby. It only furthers the story of the unpaid work of mothers.

Theatre mothers with young children without a support system must choose: to work or be a mom. Like many institutions, theatre must examine how it operates from an outdated patriarchal mode. Access to affordable childcare, government subsidies for self-employed and contracted, flexible schedules, and flexible medical leave are imperative for theater. Further, patrons should seek out art/theatre by and about mothers. Marie NDiaye’s theatre is an important endeavor, bringing attention to the issues of mothers and the theatre on the stage. It is possible to make theatre more inclusive to mothers, although it will take a multi-dimensional approach and a shakeup from the institution to the group to the individual.

Please join us in supporting these efforts to make theatre more inclusive to mothers. Together, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all theatre professionals, regardless of parental status.


Make Theatre More Inclusive to Mothers

In conclusion, theatre needs to be more inclusive to mothers. We need to create an industry that is welcoming and supportive of mothers, so that they can reach their full potential.

Here are some specific actions that the theatre industry can take to support mothers:

    • Provide flexible work arrangements: This could include things like telecommuting, flextime, and job sharing.
    • Offer childcare assistance: This could include things like on-site childcare, subsidies for childcare, or help finding childcare providers.
    • Create a more family-friendly culture: This could include things like providing paid parental leave, flexible work hours, and a supportive work environment.
    • Change the way that we think about motherhood: We need to start seeing motherhood as an asset, not a liability. Mothers bring a wealth of experience and talent to the table, and we must value their contributions.

Call to action:

We urge you to join us in supporting these efforts to make theatre more inclusive to mothers. Together, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all theatre professionals, regardless of parental status.


Rusch-Drutz, Corinne. 2004. “Stage Mothers: A Qualitative Analysis of Women’s Work Experiences As Mothers in Toronto Theatre”. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement 6 (2).


Ndiaye, Noémie. “CHAPTER XXI. Theater of the Mothers: Three Political Plays by Marie NDiaye” In Women Mobilizing Memory edited by Ayşe Gül Altınay, María José Contreras, Marianne Hirsch, Jean Howard, Banu Karaca and Alisa Solomon, 363-380. New York Chichester, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 2019.

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