We had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Ricafort McCreary Scott McCreary and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Catherine Ricafort McCreary, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
As professional artists, our lives have been full of risks. We risk lining up at 5am on an NYC sidewalk for the chance of being seen at an audition, only to be turned away. We risk pouring our heart and soul into our auditions, only to be rejected over and over again. We risk physical injury every time we push a heavy set piece, flip upside down in high heels doing dance lifts in a heavy costume 8 times a week onstage, or repeat a cello bowing sequence over and over again practicing for hours alone in a rehearsal room. We risk our emotional and financial well-being, for the magic of performing onstage alongside Tony Award-winning actors and taking the audience on a journey for two hours.

As artists who pivoted to become software engineers, we risked walking away from years of hard-earned experience to start from square one in a new field where we had zero credibility. We risked missing auditions and turned down paid gigs, in order to leave ourselves open for possible software engineering jobs, even as tech companies weren’t inviting us for interviews. We risked rejection from our arts community, who might think that we had “given up”. We risked losing our identities, wondering: “Am I even an artist anymore?”

Over the years, we’ve taken big risks in incredibly different worlds, and many have paid off. Whether those risks are in the arts or in tech, we’ve learned to ask ourselves why we are striving for something, and be honest with ourselves about how much we are willing to risk for it. We’ve now grown to embrace a lifestyle with less risk, and more stability to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We’re very proud of founding Artists Who Code, an organization that has helped 300+ professional theater actors, opera singers, dancers, stage managers, classical musicians, visual artists, and lighting/sound designers learn to code, get into 16+ bootcamps, and land their first tech jobs, all during the pandemic. We experienced a lot of difficulties in our personal journeys from arts → tech, but also knew how rewarding it could be. So, in March 2020 we founded Artists Who Code to help encourage fellow artists to make this journey, and to make it easier for them than it was for us. It’s fulfilling to have led so many people through life-changing pivots, and to have done it at scale and in a short amount of time. It’s the first time we’ve created something much larger than ourselves, and we’re proud that it continues to grow through the volunteer efforts of fellow artists who we mentored.

It wasn’t easy building Artists Who Code. At the start of the pandemic, we were guiding people who had never worked in an office job, who didn’t know what coding or Slack or Zoom even were, who were trying to learn the difficult technical skill of software engineering while simultaneously mourning the loss of their jobs and entire live arts industry. We were also trying to encourage artists to break into an industry that historically hasn’t attracted people with diverse backgrounds. We overcame these challenges by baking in seemly scary and unfamiliar tools into daily practice, being transparent about the pros and cons of pivoting from arts to tech, creating a structured and ordered path to follow, framing our tech learnings in creative metaphors that artists could relate to, encouraging open and judgment-free sharing of questions and knowledge, providing confidence-building experiences, finding key volunteers along the way and leveraging their strengths, and thoughtfully writing and committing to a code of conduct that reflected our values and mission.

We’re proud that today, the phrase “Artists Who Code” now sounds not only familiar, but also empowering, in both the tech and arts worlds.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Millennium Dance Complex – drop in and take a hip hop class, with dancers you might see in music videos or on tour with Britney! There’s a lot of dance history here, and it’s a place where industry’s best choreographers and dancers hone their craft.

Porto’s – after sweating it out at Millennium Dance, fill up on incredible food at this Cuban bakery. Aside from the sweets, we love the savory goods – potato balls, croqueta de jamón, and their croissant sandwiches with mariquitas (plantain chips) on the side.

Downtown LA:

Ron Tomson – stop in for the best men’s fashion shopping spree at Ron Tomson’s flagship store! They have incredibly stylish suits that will make you feel red carpet ready, as well as fun and flashy casual wear.

Fashion District – no-frills street shopping for great deals, and you can haggle too! Be sure to stop at a hot dog cart and get an LA-style Mexican hot dog wrapped in bacon with avocado, caramelized onions, pico de gallo, sautéed peppers, the works.

Ventura County:

Commemorative Air Force SoCal Aviation Museum – we got married here! Visit the museum to see beautiful historic planes from the 1940s that still fly, with great tidbits from the passionate docents. You can even sign up to fly in one of the historic planes.

Bangkok Avenue – hands down the BEST Thai food we’ve ever had! We love the spicy basil fish, sauteed tofu with fried basil, crab fried rice, garlic green beans, massaman curry.

Casa Nostra – incredibly delicious and authentic Italian food, in a magical setting! We like to go here for celebrations and Christmas Eve dinners.

Nonna – a fantastic Italian restaurant, the owners are a wonderful couple from Italy.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library – housed on beautiful grounds with sweeping views, spend a day visiting Air Force One.

San Diego:

Old Globe Theatre – catch a show here before it gets to Broadway!

Extraordinary Desserts – the name says it all.

San Diego Zoo – a must-visit. We particularly love the reptile house, where we can pretend to be Harry Potter.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We’d like to shout out the wonderful volunteers of Artists Who Code, who help achieve our mission of “Empowering Artists Through Tech. Advancing Tech Through Artistry.”

Website: artistswhocode.com

Instagram: @cattricafort, @scott_mccreary

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/artistswhocode

Image Credits
Matthew Murphy, Michael Ramos, Curtis Brown, Xinxin Zhang, Josefina Santos, Jason Weston, Paul Smith

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.