Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for November, 2006|Monthly archive page

Top 10 Things Entrepreneurs Do and Know

In Accounting, Emotional Intelligence, Employees, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Money, Risk on November 30, 2006 at 2:36 am

#10 Know when to stop and cut your losses and know when to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

#9 When you have been hit hard, and knocked down, stand right back up.

#8 Know success is part financial, part emotional and part about a healthy lifestyle.

#7 Givers gain. Always go out of your way to be the first to help someone regardless of if there is something in it for you. It’s all about karma.

#6 Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.

#5 Hire people who are not like you, but bring different strengths to the table, that compliment your skill set.

#4 Cash flow is king. WIthout cash your out of business.

#3 Develop your instincts and trust them.

#2 Have a minimum of three and preferably a five year plan on paper including profits & loss and balance sheet projections. Remember: they are there as a “work in progress”, so you can change them as you progress along the way!

#1 Love the path you choose and passionately pursue it.

Beginnings and Endings

In Emotional Intelligence on November 29, 2006 at 4:11 pm

I am a firm believer in beginnings and endings for most everything in life. It’s a risk to start something new- regardless of what it is- a new friendship, a new way of expressing your creativity, or a new creative venture. Yet with every new thing comes a new understanding of what is possible in life and lots of opportunities to experience life in a new exciting fresh way.

But sometimes, new things are not meant to last forever. They might have a built in expiration date- like graduating from college, or they have fulfilled a need and are past their sell date- and its time to move on.

Sometimes we fail to recognize that even things that have been with us for a long time are choices we make to continue. We always have the choice to stop and move on. Sometimes learning when to stop is far more important then having the stamina or drive to continue.

Endings should never be seen as anything less then an opportunity for something bigger and better. Of course the kinds of endings I am speaking about are the kind that come from each of us contributing our efforts in well planned, positive, healthy ways, making those things that have reached a logical ending point appropriate.

If you realize something in your life has reached a logical expiration date, don’t be afraid to let it go. In fact I would encourage you to embrace letting it go because by doing so you will open a new set of doors with new possibilities. With it will come a deeper understanding of your life and a greater perspective.

Artistic Social Entrepreneurship

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 24, 2006 at 6:38 pm

While at the ARNOVA conference I picked up some literature on Social Entrepreneurship; the idea that some ventures are created to make the world a better place and are built on worthy causes, thus making them not for profits or in some way socially responsible to produce a worthy outcome to better society in some way.

The irony of this platform, is that the most identifiable social form of entrepreneurship should be art, and yet Art for Art’s Sake, is increasingly not being soley embraced as a worthy cause.

Experiencing creativity in art is what give us ideas, fuels us as a nation forward in action, and is highly worthy as an economic engine, in today’s economy. Yet our society is embracing art less often, not more often, when it is presented for its’ own sake.

I think intrinsically, by being creative artists, we are responsible for the outcome of our art form. I think often we forget that because, individually, building the art-form is very enjoyable. We get caught up in our own experiences of the art, forgetting that we need to be developing it to serve a greater good.

When I help people buy clarinets through Lisa’sClarinetShop, one of the thing I ask all younger players who come to me, is ” What do you want to do with the clarinet?”  Usually they have no clue how to reply and seem uncomfortable–being able only to tell me they want to keep playing.

I continue on with them, asking each if they think about how they can use their playing in their career, or their playing can help another person?

I think all art needs to be socially based enough to be outcome focused. It is through art’s outcome that we are moved forward. Art for Arts Sake, to me is like a band playing cover tunes. It sounds good, and you enjoy it, but its not as good as the original.

Every one of us has an original way we think or feel or breath our art. In each of us our art-form manifests itself in a different way that is truly unique to each of us. We may admire our teachers, or our peers, or someone else we read about, but we are each uniquely different artistically and creatively. 

Figure out how to express yourself through your art in a way that will lead you to fill a need; one that you are passionate about.

Be socially responsible with your art and you will find ways to thrive.

Major League Models

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 22, 2006 at 12:26 am

Steve Wolf, besides being a completely versatile all purpose guitarist, from hard rock to classical guitar, is an amazingly creative entrepreneurial artist. Out of his passion for detail and love of baseball has risen the most amazing one of a kind creations I have ever seen; exacting models of ball parks with every detail captured like the real park! 

Steve, and his model ball parks, have been featured in People Magazine, The Chicago Tribune and along side many named celebrities. His most recent creation, the old Yankee Stadium, which will be torn down in 2008, is yet to be in any featured article, or alongside any celebrity, as it is not yet complete!

Standing in Steve’s workshop today, I was able to see the most AMAZING replica of Yankee Stadium, with every detail having been researched to be an exact duplicate, including matching the green paint color in the park!

This particular model Steve has been working on for almost 2 years. Its first showing will be in Mickey Mantle’s restaurant in New York after the first of the year, in 2007. Its price tag will be over 200,000.

Make sure to stop by Steve’s site at

Money, Abundance and a Creative Life

In Creative Support on November 21, 2006 at 3:37 am

Money, Money, money. We can’t live without it. The amount of money we make defines what we can afford to buy and how we can afford to live. Having money can help us to feel protected, powerful and capable while not having money can leave us feeling insecure, vulnerable or less capable.

Money challenges us, can define us and complicates our lives by being so necessary.  

Money is also, often, a topic we avoid sharing with others, because we are afraid of being judged if we talk about how much we have or don’t have, what we want it for, or how we use it. As a result we often don’t learn from others use of money, but instead are left to use our judgements, to decide how we feel about its various uses.

While money is something artists often think they can do with out, thinking about ways to make more money as an artists is always a good idea. Lets face it- the more money you make the more choices you have over where you live, how you live, and what in life you can choose to support with the money you have.

Around Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all the things in our life that bring us abundance.  Building a life you love, that includes a financial plan that you love, together will bring you abundance in your career.

If you don’t have a reason to give thanks for your current situation then use this time to give thanks for recognizing that, and committing to yourself to find a creative way to change your situation into one that sustains you financially and nourishes you creatively.

Use this next year, starting now, to measure your growth and change.

It does not matter what stage in life you are at; in school, 5, 10 or 20 years out of school; start where ever you are, and begin to embrace yourself, your passions and what you financially need, and begin to move yourself forward. Moving forward is never comfortable at any stage because it means you are growing and changing. Take comfort in knowing that.

Writing a book is new creative experience for me and I have had plenty of uncomfortable moments planning it creatively as well as planning it financially. Yet I am here to tell you that my struggles have produced, already, riches beyond my imagination in so many directions;  through new acquaintances, new ideas, new interests, new venues, and so much more; since my ideas became cemented to write this book this past June.

Now with the book basically finished, and a second already mapped out, I feel I am on a whole new creative adventure that has depth and plenty of room for me to creatively grow.

For that I give thanks.

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Emilio Estevez

In Creative Support on November 20, 2006 at 1:40 pm

estevezemilioag366051903.jpgI was watching The Tonight Show, one night last week, and Emilio Estevez was a featured guest. Much to my surprise, while Emilio was on to promote his new film Bobby, what was quite a surprise was the tale he told about the process of making the film. Besides being almost flat broke, because of his declining career, when he actually concieved of the idea for the film,  he then had writers block for more then a year. He sold almost everything he had to survive and used all of his personal connections, favors, and star status to recruit over 20 top name stars, for virtually no money, to make this film.

Emilio’s belief in the project was so strong that he banked everything on it for it to succeed. In cut throat, here today flushed tomorrow, bling-bling Hollywood; this was no easy ride.

Its a tough concept, but a realistic one, to know that your passion is the driving force behind your creative success. Without Emilio’s passion, this project would have negatively defined him. Because of his passion he has breathed new life into his career and his creativity.

Pivotal hard times in life shape and define your creativity and change you. I find Emilio’s story inspirational and his willingness to reveal his plight admirable. Every creative person, that is passionate about what they do, will find that dead ends are part of the creative process. When you find one, like Emilio did when he became broke, you have a golden opportunity to create something far greater then you ever imagined.


In Current Events on November 17, 2006 at 4:13 am

A couple of weeks ago in Chicago was the CEO or Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization Conference. Over 1400 college students from 500 universities, who want to be entrepreneurs attended. CEO or Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization is the brain child of Gerald Hill at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The mission of the group is: “informs, supports, and inspires college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation.”  Interesting organization, worth checking out.

Borat and Death of A President

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 16, 2006 at 1:47 am

SO, My husband, Chuck, and I went to see Death of A President, a fictional docu- drama about what might happen in the event President Bush (43) is assassinated. Its a typical Indie film in my opinion. Low budget, no frills, and a plot that just keeps you hanging on somehow, yet, you leave happy you came to see it.

We didn’t go to see it, actually, for its controversial topic, but instead because my newly found drummer, Tony Dale, for Bite-Size Arts Ensemble, is in it.

Tony is a great drummer. Last weeks gigs included sitting in with English Beat and Poi Dog Pondering, in between finishing up a few different recording projects.  Last year Tony went to Morocco with a banjo player. They did a show for just banjo and drums and boy can Tony play soft. He can play anything, and he is so passionate about drumming!

In any event-back to the movie-Tony was hired to bring a “band “to the film project. He and “the band” would be the group in the background playing while they were filming a scene.

When Tony arrived, this dreadlock, hoop earring, muscle bound guy,Tony, caught the directors attention. He told Tony to shave and clean up and come back.  A couple days later, when Tony returned with a crew cut and clean shaved, the director cast him. Tony was cast because he looked like the father of the “sons” in the film and like he belonged with their mother. Instead of being hired to be part of “the band” in the film,Tony, was cast as the man who kills the President.

 There is nothing much left in the film, of all the stuff they shot of Tony. Most of it wound up on the cutting room floor. But Tony got to have a great time stepping outside of his comfort zone and doing something to stretch his creativity just a bit.

So if you go to see the film, see how many times you see Tony Dale in it; drummer extraordinaire and the drummer for The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble.

I am really excited about working with Tony. He is a very entreprenurial, self taught drummer who is very creative, and successful.

A long time ago, when Tony was first learning to drum, he use to play and rehearse in the basement of his grandmother’s house. She was at work Tue and Thur nights and during the day on Saturday. Tony could practice and play loud in her basement because she wasn’t home then.  

His grandmothers basement was a really old south side Chicago house;  with an old shoot for coal into the basement and still half full of coal. Tying to play around the coal got tricky, as his group he developed grew, and rehearsal space was getting limited.

At the time, Tony was also trying to help his grandmother out and help her clean up her basement; so he and his buddies in his group, decided to call themselves The Coal Ensemble. If you didn’t know the story about needing to get rid of the coal in Tony’s grandmothers basement,  when you were handed a lump of coal, wrapped up in plastic at the lounge door, it seemed like a clever piece of marketing; helping you to remember the band because they were good. Tony was also the only black guy in the group which added something to the marketing sigificance of the piece of coal, for The Coal Ensemble.

Needless to say, in no time, Tony had cleaned out his grandmother’s basement by giving away her coal, one lump at a time, at his gigs.

Tony is GGRREEAAT!  

 My husband and I also went to see Borat.

While I found myself amazed at my own reaction to it, often feeling embarrassed at its unbelievably inappropriateness- I just wasn’t raised to ever do or say any of those things; but– isn’t that why its so outrageously funny because we can’t believe ANYONE would do or say what Borat says and does to the people he talks to in the film?  

I hope that Borat decides to “share his new found wealth”, the 67 million dollars windfall to date, out of the kindness of his heart, with those in the film. Participants received $400.00 each and waived all their rights, for their being portrayed, perhaps unknowingly, in wouldn’t you say a rather poor light?  

Actor Sacha Barron Cohen, while certainly not the first actor to become a 24/7 character, Sacha’s development of the character Borat is an original, unique, one of a kind and creative.

We can learn things from watching how others use their creativity. Tony used his to help his grandmother get rid of all the coal in her basement and benefited from creatively using it to market his band. Sacha Barron Cohen used his creativity to create a character Borat who make’s people laugh at his inappropraite behavior and socially unacceptable commentary.  

I am sure between these 2 movies Borat and Death of A President, you have an opinion about each. Regardless of that opinion, the fact that you even have one, is a sign that each of these movies were successful in demonstrating creativity. Creativity is the fuel that motivates people to action and thought. Creativity is a powerful fuel and certainly a powerful economic one.

What are you going to do today, next week or next year to use your creativity to move people to action and thought?

ARNOVA and Grass Roots Fundraising

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 15, 2006 at 1:00 am

j0406639.jpg ARNOVA is an international membership organization dedicated to fostering through research an understanding of the nonprofit sector, philanthropy and volunteerism.  Their 35th conference is this week Nov 16-18th in Chicago. Certainly not all “arts” related but there are some jewels buried in here.

Also for those of you who are in the beginning stages of learning about how to raise funds for your arts organization, there is an excellent publication, for a very nominal fee you can subscribe to. You will find both the magazine and a free newsletter at:

Chicago’s Artistic Development

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 14, 2006 at 2:28 am

Recently the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, run by David Weinstein, was asked by Mayor Daley to evaluate and assist fashion designers in obtaining financing, for their creative designs, in the city of Chicago. 

Mayor Daley has decided to try and devote some resources to developing artists and helping them in business here in the city. According to David Weinstein, CEC President, the long term goal is expand their role to serve a broader base of artists beyond the fashion industry.  

If you reside in Chicago, and are considering building a creative business here, you might consider speaking to the CEC about what they can do to help you. Other Chicago resources include The Women’s Business Development Center which provides all kinds of resources in business development and Lawyers for the Creative Arts, who will provide free legal assistance to artists.

Another interesting site, that happens to be Chicago based, but certainly in content is national, is

Very interesting articles about artists, events and workshops. Highly recommend checking it out as well.

What does the city you live in have offer to artists to support their development?  Use these sites to build your knowledge of the kinds of things available and seek out those in your area who would be willing to offer to help in a similar way.

Grantmakers In The Arts

In Current Events on November 13, 2006 at 1:30 pm

This week in Boston, MA, The annual Grantmakers in the Arts conference began over this past weekend. The conference is open by invitation only to all the big foundations and funders to share their perspectives on who they fund and what they are interested in funding next.  Personally I think this conference should be open to the public but, if you go to their website,  you can check out the sessions running through out the conference.

 I think from the narritive description of each session listed, the kinds of topics, issues and trends funders are addressing, or considering addressing, in their funding are evident. Very interesting and helpful if you are looking for money to fund your next project or further develop your current organization.

Click on Beantown Remix when you get to the site for the conference listings.

A Book in 6 Words

In Emotional Intelligence on November 10, 2006 at 1:05 pm

 In Wired Magazine,  a recent article appeared that challenged famous authors to write a book in 6 words. Here are some of the results:

“For Sale; baby shoes, never worn.”- Hemingway

“Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.”- Vernor Vinge

“Cellar?” “Gate to , uh…hell, actually.”- Ronald Moore

“Gown removed carelessly, head, less so.” – Joss Whedon

I wish I was a good enough writer to do this. I can’t say anything in less than 60,000 words!

Le Cirque du Soleil

In Interesting Articles on November 9, 2006 at 4:42 am

Le Cirque du Soleil is, in my opinion, the world’s most creative artistic innovative entrepreneurial company in the arts. If you have a few minutes, while this article is long, it is absolutely a fantastic read and worth the time. All artists can learn something from Le Cirque du Soleil’s committment to innovation and risk taking– as well as beating improbable odds as a unique creative venture. Here is the link to Join the Circus.

Thanks for reading today’s post.

The life of a new blogger

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on November 8, 2006 at 11:07 am

j04069002.jpg  So I get up every morning and right after I take the dogs out for a short walk, I pour another cup of coffee, kiss my husband goodbye, and settle on to my computer to check how many of you have logged on to my blog today. I have been blogging for a week and am addicted!

I am like a kid in a candy store, loving every new “digit”, as each one of you stops by to visit.

But the trouble is– I would like to know you as an artist not a “digit”.

Its really an insanely fun experience writing a blog.  I highly recommend it. You get to write what you want and what you think about. So for better or worse, welcome to my world inside!

Just like your passion burns in you to play, sing, dance, write, teach, entrepreneur, market, or anything else you creatively want to do– this is where I feel I can contribute.

Yesterday I finished another chapter of my book. Today I will start Chapter 12 and the book will be finished when I reach 17, according to my plan.  Every entrepreneurial venture begins with a plan. My book is about how to evolve to the point of being able to produce that plan.

I have written about 150 pages so far of what will be, I believe, around a 225 page book.  Yesterday, in between phone calls, and dog walks, 4400 words flowed out of me like water out from a faucet, and not really very many drips.

I am finding my stride writing and its great.  I have always loved to write. When I attended Interlochen Arts Academy I took a number of creative writing classes and found it both challenging and exhilarating and still do. I am also tremendously enjoying this blog, but would enjoy it even more, if  we built this blog together founded on my interests and yours.  Questions are good. Comments work too.

Look, I am brave enough to bleed my heart out on this public page, and brave enough to share with you really, anything you would like to know about how to improve, develop or start your own creative venture. Just ask.

I want the artistic human capital in the US of A to work in a creative field and be paid well. With 20 years of entrepreneurial experience in the arts, 10 years in the classroom at DePaul University, 10 years as a core member of a not for profit chamber ensemble, and 30 years as a professional musician, I am confident I can make life easier for those who want a career in the arts. Ask me questions. I can help!

After all, we have become, in this century, a creativity based society. Creativity is our most marketable “product”.  Our economy no longer manufacturer’s anything, but instead innovates and creates as its major consumable good.

Our largest corporations will pay huge sums of money for those who can bring them creativity and innovation- the stock market certainly rewards those companies that do- what better fuel then the arts to change the world with!

Sometimes it feels to me that artists feel they are not worthy of true financial freedom or wealth. Those who have, are often seen as highly commercial with their art and lacking in the highest display of creativity.

I think a lot of artists suffer from low self esteem. Its easier to be a victim then a leader, especially with art.  Art is very personal and as artists we have to be persistence, disciplined,  and face criticism and obstacles every single day. Hard not to feel kind of beaten down sometimes or not deserving-  

But lets face it, more money in your pocket means more money to support the things you believe in. Can that be all bad?

Entrepreneurship is about using your brain to ensure you maximize your worth. Its building a plan to thrive using your art form as a platform to do it.  No one who employs you as an artist, and gives you your weekly paycheck, will ever value your creativity and artistic capacity as much as you do!

If you think about adding something to what you currently do that is entrepreneurial, or build your entire world around entrepreneurship, the person who will grow and evolve and change artistically is you! That certainly can’t be bad either.

So back to the blog for another moment-

 What would you like me to write about next? What are YOU interested in and are willing to share?

If replying to one of these posts is just too outside the box for you, then email me through my clarinet site at; that way your question comment or thought can remain personal and not out for public consumption right now. I can appreciate where that might seem like too much.

Part of developing as an entrepreneur is developing your voice and confidence. Who you are is plenty cool. Life is about evolving, learning and change. It gets easier if you just let yourself  start to show up more often.

And remember: If your not the lead dog in the pack, the view is always the same.

Thanks for reading today’s post.

Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network

In WEBSITES & BLOGS on November 7, 2006 at 2:36 pm

I was chatting on line yesterday evening with my new found friend, Gary Beckman, about his new site Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network. Gary is getting his doctorate at University of Texas- Austin and is as devoted as I am to entrepreneurship in the arts. His site is an excellent resource to see where programs and courses are offered on the topic. I highly encourage you to add it to your favorites list and check it out.

Make sure you get out today and vote!

Undergraduate Degree, Masters, Doctorate?

In Author: Lisa Canning, Authors, Creative Support on November 6, 2006 at 1:29 pm


What is an artistic education worth?

To get an undergraduate degree at a university, on average, some being more, some being less, will run you $20,000 a year. $20,000 X 4 years is $80,000. Let’s add another $20,000 for 4 years of living expenses, which is likely too low, but for sake of this discussion lets use it. So at a minimum, your undergraduate degree will cost you $100,000.

Assuming you go on to get a masters, which takes usually 2 years, using the same logic, you can add $50,000 to that. And a doctorate, while many are stipend to teach or assist, defraying the cost of the degree, let’s assume the same amount of time and money, leaving us with another $50,000 investment in your future.  

The grand total for an undergraduate, masters and doctorate degree a whopping  $200,000.

 An education, artistic or not, is a significant investment. As an investment, it is VERY important it significantly advances you and your future. An education is designed to do that but only you have control over how well it does do that.

Let me be the first to encourage you to pursue a degree in the arts.  I HIGHLY value a creative artistic education and believe without it you cannot express properly the creative being you are!  However, to make that statement, requires that I explicitly tell you a few things that are required of you to make it be the best decision of your life, and not, potentially, a poor financial choice that then will dictate the life you can afford to lead!

By spending as often as possible, as soon as possible, exploring where you want your degree to help you go in your life, will ensure the future you want!  If there is not an artistic career development course at your school, that you can take as a freshman, you must create your own course to teach yourself.  Here are some of the basic things you need to do to accomplish this: 

 #1  The development of artistic talent is a skill to be used to build your life on.  Get to know someone who you want to be like when you graduate. Find a mentor who is earning a living IN the arts to emulate and learn from. A good mentor needs to and will want to share a lot about themselves with you; including how they attract their audience, customers, students, how they developed their work, how much they earn and how they went about creating their living in the beginning. Keep searching for this person until you find the right someone you are comfortable with and who wants to help you. Make it a part of your MBO (read post titled MBO) to have that rich resource, a mentor, in your life now.  

Invite them to coffee to start a dialogue, invite them to a concert. Involve yourself in their life and the right someone will want to become involved in yours!

A good mentor is someone that you get more from then you give but someone who in return gets something from you by watching you evolve and change. Your commitment to growth, in your chosen professional pursuits, is a pre-requisite and essential.

  1. 2 Consider the economics of your educational choices and build a financial model that applies only to you. Everyone’s financial circumstances in life are different.  While your mentor might show you the way he or she was able to financially thrive and love his or her work doing it, you might not have the same financial resources or might be lucky and have more! 

Either way, you need to actually build a financial model of your life to ensure you have a plan that makes economic sense.

What that financial model needs to include is:

  •  Your future debts from education and what it will cost you monthly. (assuming you will be responsible for paying for all or part of your education) 
  • Any additional tools you need or resources you need that will cost you money to begin your chosen artistic work and earn money doing it.
  • Your living expenses, what you can REALLY live on, and must have to maintain a lifestyle you can accept and be happy with.


  • The income you can realistically earn, its source and monthly net amount to you. If you don’t know the answer to this question, you MUST find out!

Actually all of the components of your financial plan require you to do some research and really understand what your financial plan will look like.

The goal is cash flow break even, as my husband says. ( My husband Chuck is a CPA and amateur guitar player)  

Regardless of if you want to be an entrepreneur or you will be employed in an artistic capacity by someone else, starting out in life is the same as starting a business.  As a start up, the goal is cash flow break even. If you are not loosing money and can afford to continue doing what you are doing, then you are doing an excellent job with your start up venture or start up life.

If your financial statement reveals that you will lose money at first, you need to use your creativity to figure out a way to change that to, at a minimum, cash flow break even; without totally compromising your goals and vision for your creative life, but instead creatively rearranging it.

If you are making money out of the gate, before I tell you to count your blessings, go back and double check that your numerical calculations are factually based and are correct.

Thank you, Dawid, a Music Major at Millikan University, for your question that inspired today’s post.

Artistic Access-Able

In Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Marketing, The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble on November 4, 2006 at 3:17 pm


So what is artistic accesssibility anyway?

Is your art form access-ABLE?  Accessibility is a BIG buzz word these days in the arts. Many artistic organizations are working harder then ever in their published marketing materials and marketing campaigns to express to their potential future supporters how easy they are for their audiences to relate to, how audience friendly their programing is and just how “cool” it is to be involved in their programming and work.  

The foundations who donate to arts organizations are seeking to fund those organizations that are the leaders in making their art so accessible that they draw a large audience and a solid base of support; ensuring that their money will go to good use towards an organization that will continue to thrive and survive!

With the arts, in general, tremendously suffering in shrinking numbers in audience turn out and many organizations facing cutbacks and short falls, being ABLE to deliver what your audience wants, so much so, that they can’t wait to come back and tell all their friends about what you are doing, really matters!

But shouldn’t it always matter?  If you don’t know who your audience is or who your audience will become with a well defined plan, think again. Your audience IS your life’s blood and without blood we all know that the heart of any organization stops beating.

I was a founding member of a chamber group, The Pilgrim Chamber Players, that for over ten years played to a really full house. Our audience was up to close to 300 consistently and for a number of years the donations were steadily growing and pouring in.

We developed our audience by making classical music “accessible”. We did this through eclectic tonally based diametrically opposite stylistic programming. We also accomplished our goal through a more informal approach to music making, being closer to our audience and getting rid of the “barrier” between “us” and “them”.

This year, just recently, I resigned from the group because for me it was not access-ABLE enough. Our audience had reached its highest point 2 years ago and now is on the decline.  Our board and artists were on the fence about what the right direction was to increase our audience and donor base, and instead of being an innovative chamber music group, we were becoming an organizational political machine.

What I mean, is we had lost our MBO. ( see yesterday’s post)

The reason MBO’s are so important is they create a big picture, a framework, to hang your work in or on.  The Pilgrim Chamber Players use to have a great MBO; developing interesting programming and access to the artists for those who attended our concerts. But we had accomplished that MBO, and as every artist, or artistic group must, our audience had grown to our new found level and change was what needed to together move our audience base and our ensemble to a  new higher level.

 Had we always kept our eye on our MBO we never would have hit this spot at all.

When I was running a large business and had a lot of employees to manage, starting my own artistic ensemble was not possible, as it is for me now.  While Pilgrim Chamber Players, as I write this post is as an organization in turmoil, creating another venue for another 300 people to experience our classical music, for me is no longer enough. My MBO has changed.

As perhaps you are starting to see, from my passionate writing, I am in a place in my life where helping MORE artists to grow and thrive is where my heart is at.

Wherever your heart is,  listen to its beat, and know that from it, your life’s blood, your audience, will flow. Build that into your artistic efforts and you are sure to find a path worth traveling!

I have embarked on a new artistic journey and am in the exciting stage of creating a new arts ensemble, called The Bite-Size Arts Ensemble. Its an ensemble about helping artistic human capital to work through creative, educational  and innovative performance.  

Today is our first board meeting and as this ensemble unfolds you too shall know who we are and what is our MBO.

Thanks for reading today’s post.


In Entrepreneurial Tool Box on November 3, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Do you have an MBO? Its an acronym for Motivation By Objective. My father introduced me to it when I was in high school attending Interlochen Arts Academy. My father was a Harvard graduate, a criminal attorney, who turned into an entrepreneur, a business man, because he grew tired of defending criminals–understandably I think. He made a lot of money doing it, but he sure did not feel good about himself getting the bad guy off. I always respected him for that decision.

In any event, the purpose behind an MBO is to have an agenda that you are focused on, and that stays right in front of you always. My dad use to say, “think of it like keeping your eye on the ball”.  

An MBO is something bigger then a to do list. Its not something easy to cross off, but something big you are working towards that every day you have a choice about making progress towards or not.  For artistic types, while it is true most of us have discipline, it was required to perfect our skill, we also often get comfortable in our “zone” and dislike stretching beyond it.

MBO’s are designed to reach for something more and requires more from you.  The kind of things you put on a MBO list are those that when consistently done, will bring you to a whole new level in your life.

For me, in college, when I was starting my first business out of my dorm room, my first MBO was seemingly so basic yet really a challenge for me daily. I needed to be available to answer my phone and chat with customers a certain number of hours during the day, not letting the phone roll over into voice-mail instead. The reason this was so important is that I knew if my customers got to know me they would do business with me. Let’s face it, you can’t make friends with voice mail!

So I had to be very disciplined about not wasting time hanging out with a friend or spending extra time at school doing stuff I could be doing at home. Being consistent about doing this and creating in about six months, what started out as a big challenge, eventually became routine. It was at first terribly inconvient and required me often to think harder about the best way to manage my schedule. At first it did not seem to be for any good reason because the phone rarely rang.  It was months actually before the phone rang with any consistency. But what did happen in time, is that my potential customers soon figured out when they could reach me and seemed to call exactly during those times when I was around- because I was consistent in my availability.

One of the most important basic lessons in Entrepreneurship is to recognize that YOU are the reason your customers will come, shop and buy.  They want you! This is especially true in any type of a creative business.

So as you ponder your weekend plans, think about what you can do to make the talent, product, or creative output you have to offer the world more accessible. Start by making your own MBO.

It’s cold outside

In Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea on November 2, 2006 at 1:33 pm

lenny.jpegdscn0709.JPGI woke up this morning to my usual routine of taking my 2 lovely dogs out for their usual jaunt to find it to be unbelievably cold outside!  I have had an unusual year this year, getting sick with nasty colds more often then I have in the past 15 combined!

This past year has been about significant changes in my life and stress that goes along with that. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly, my life has transformed into something quite  remarkably different.

I have gone from running a large business with over 50 employees and 4 locations to running a small business from home and starting a life as an author. I am in the middle of my new creative venture of writing a book and learning about that creative process. My book is about entrepreneurship and the ingredients a person needs in the core of their personality to be creative and financially succesful and able to sustain it!

Its a hands on guide about how to blend all those creative ideas we creative types have into something we are deeply passionate about and can make us a great living doing it!  It IS actually possible– I know- its been my life since before I graduated from  Northwestern University.

I must say that learning to do new creative things is really fun, especially when you are truly motivated by them. It is and has always been a true passion of mine to help artists financially flourish. This “starving artist”,  die for your art stuff, has never appealed to me and definitely brought out my desire to see more benefit like I have.

Besides my husband Chuck, the 2 most important creatures in my life are my dogs, Scooby and Lennon. Lennon is the black and white Jack Russell Terrier. His nicknames are Pistol and Spit Fire. He is both. Never seen a dog run faster or faster away from you! He is a bolt-er. We have only had him for 2 months and he definitely is in training!! Scooby is my first dog. I resuced him just about 3 years ago. He is a Australian Cattle Dog/German Shepard Mix and the SWEETEST boy on the planet. A really good listener. An important skill for an entrepreneur to have too!

Thanks for reading today’s post.

Hello world!

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on November 1, 2006 at 2:25 pm

Lisa Fall 07 colorMy name is Lisa Argiris Canning and I am starting this blog to share with you, and anyone you know, life as an artistic entrepreneur.  As a professional clarinetist and a serial artistic entrepreneur myself, for over twenty-five years, I have been passionate about helping others to not just survive in the arts but financially thrive. 

So welcome to the beginning of my blog. I look forward to your comments, questions and posts.