Module 8

"Learning & Improving from Experience"

"Learning & Improving from Experience"​


The purpose of this module is to provide performing artists with processes that can help them recognise, reflect, and judge achievements and failures building on their previous experiences and interactions with others so they can improve their abilities.

Watch and discuss

By the end of this module, you should be able to...


  • indicate common causes of failure in performing arts entrepreneurship activities and how to overcome them.
  • estimate the importance of integrating lifelong learning into personal and career development strategy.


  • reflect on own achievements and temporary failures to learn from them and improve future opportunities and choices.
  • filter the feedback provided by others and take their suggestions on board.


  • design impact, monitoring, and evaluation activities to track the progress of value-creating activities.


Lifelong learning

All learning activities undertaken throughout life with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and attitudes, within personal, social or career development perspectives. 

The intention or aim to learn is the critical point that distinguishes these activities from non-learning activities, such as cultural or sport activities.


A thing done successfully with effort, skills, or courage. Until someone achieves something is common to go through failures and having to overcome them.

In the performing arts, in a wider sense, an achievement of a certain magnitude confers a certain degree of merit that can be distinguished, e.g., through a local public recognition  or a national or international award.


Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement. It allows to identify flaws which can be worked in the future.

Feedback on art performances is crucial to improve their quality  and to self-development.


The assessment of strengths and weaknesses to improve the effectiveness of something. It is a judgement about the amount or value of something.

Evaluation is a formal systematic method for collecting and analysing information about the impact of an activity and assessing if it reaches its objectives.

Which are common causes of failure in performing arts entrepreneurship activities?

Common causes of failure in performing arts

  • Fear of failing
  • High expectations
  • Absence of competences
  • Inadequate efforts
  • Not considering past experiences
  • Lack of a business network
  • Weak communication with the public
  • Inappropriate marketing
  • Low added value provided
  • Mismatch between demanding and offer
  • Insufficient economic return
  • Devaluation of performing arts

How to overcome common causes of failure in performing arts entrepreneurship activities?

Overcoming common causes of failure in performing arts

  • If you ever failed, think why did it happen
  • Bear in mind your successes
  • Start taking small risks 
  • Invest in continuous professional development of technical/soft skills
  • Prepare strategic action plans 
  • Set realistic goals and keep focus on them
  • Define your budget
  • Find different ways of funding and of monetizing your performances
  • Keep a wide network of professionals with whom you can collaborate
  • Communicate with public
  • Use adequate marketing techniques considering you target audiences
  • Create added value for the audiences with your creations
  • Consider the already existing performing arts offer in your area


“Training, work, effort and luck” – Daniela Ruah

Daniela Ruah is a Portuguese-American actress that grew up in Portugal and now lives in the USA, starring in NCIS: Los Angeles TV series since 2009. In an interview she gave, she said that to get there was a matter of “Training, work, effort and luck”

Daniela invested a lot in training since she was a kid. As her parents noticed her aptitude for being a show-off and she loved dance, she started taking tap dancing classes. Her interest later turned to ballet and gymnastics and she also attended acting classes. When she was 16, she got her first job in a soap opera and loved it.

At age 18, she decided to move to London to study Performing Arts at the London Metropolitan University. In 2007, she moved to New York to further her studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. She is a great example that pursuing dreams by investing in learning can be fruitful. 

Lifelong learning in the performing arts

  • What is your opinion about lifelong learning?
  • How have you been investing in your professional training throughout your life as an artist?
  • What examples do you know of involving  artists that put a high effort in investing in their professional development, whether they are close to you or not? What effects did that investment have in their personal and artistic life?
  • Which  technical/soft skills do you think you need to improve for  your performing area? What training do you think  could make a big difference to you and what results would you expect to gain from it? Research online training offers available regarding those skills and/or speak with your colleagues about where did they already attend training courses in similar areas.

How to filter feedback

Receiving and implementing other people’s constructive feedback is a worthwhile investment. It improves the relationships that you have with others and encourage an healthy self-reflection.

Filter first

Start by separating facts from opinions. Even well-intentioned feedback is influenced by the biases of the people giving it. You must look at the feedback from a holistic perspective. Feedback mainly reveals information about the person who is giving it.

Reinterpret the information

Try to reinterpret what the person giving you feedback has said in terms that make sense to you. Everyone talks about technical concepts differently, and it is important that you understand them. Reinterpreting the opinions of others is important before you decide whether or not the information is helpful.

How to filter feedback

Respond consciously

Feedback can be positive or negative. If you feel upset with the feedback that you receive, it can be because it feels like a negative comment on who you are instead of what you do. 

We can adjust our behaviour to ease friction with those around us but we cannot change who we are, nor should we. It is up to the feedback receivers to manage their reaction.

Feedback is better when it is immediate

The reason it is helpful for people to receive feedback immediately after they do something is because they just completed an action that is fresh in the other people’s minds.

If someone gives you feedback on something you did some days ago, they probably will not remember all the details. Furthermore, people tend to modify stories as they recall them.

How to filter feedback

Feedback is helpful when it is specific

If the feedback givers provide concrete examples they can be helpful as the receiver can clearly understand them and identify points of change. If they speak in generalities it is vague feedback, and it can be easily dismissed.

Get a second opinion

Do not change something based only in one person’s feedback. Collect more opinions. If different people tell you about the same things, then it is safe to believe that there is room for progress. Feedback is only valuable if it is about how you do things, not about who you are as a person.

Evaluating your experiences in performing arts

Action Plan

Think about your experiences

Think about your past experiences in performing arts: the staff involved in the projects, the participating organisations, and the audiences. What did work well and what did not with each experience? 

List indicators

Now that you have recalled your experiences, list the indicators that could be used to evaluate the success of those experiences considering the three mentioned dimensions. Provide the data source for each indicator also.  

Define how to implement them

Having the indicators ready, decide in which phase of the experiences it would be more relevant to evaluate them and who would be responsible for the evaluation. Always keep in mind what worked in the past and what  did not.