Innovating Through Artistry

Arts Entrepreneurship? Um, why should I care?

In Author: David Cutler, Entrepreneurial Evolution on April 3, 2009 at 12:09 am


Entrepreneurship is quite the buzzword these days. Even in the arts world. There are now arts entrepreneurship courses, conferences, books, discussion groups, think tanks, and even this website: Well, it is a cool word (if you could only learn to spell it…), but it sounds so “business-y.” Didn’t you become an artist, at least in part, to embrace a creative and meaningful livelihood far outside the business sector? What could arts entrepreneurship possibly have to offer you?

A lot! In fact, it could hold the very key to reaching your professional goals, personal ambitions, and artistic dreams. But first, you have to understand what the concept means. Only then can you fathom the true potential it holds.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes, operates, and assumes risk for a business venture.” With this definition, someone who buys and runs a Starbucks or McDonalds franchise would qualify. Others argue that a true Entrepreneur, with a capital E, is someone who creates a totally unique enterprise. Many people already operate coffee or burger joints; real Entrepreneurs invent novel concepts. Hmmmm…in all likeliness, neither of those definitions have much to do with you.

Here’s what entrepreneurship means to me: individuals who take control of their lives, create opportunities, think outside the box, get the “big picture,” and are not afraid to question conventional wisdom. Under this definition, entrepreneurial inclinations also influence artistic, educational, or personal decisions, even when no finances are involved. It’s a type of problem solving. Even artists with traditional 9-5 jobs can benefit from these principles. Entrepreneurship equals creativity—as much an attitude as it is a business practice.

With this understanding, consider the many ways an entrepreneurial mindset can help you succeed:

  1. Enhance financial gain. Entrepreneurs discover and create opportunities for earning income, regardless of environment. Even artists with traditional jobs can benefit from generating additional work.
  2. Create freedom and gratification. Entrepreneurship means taking control of your destiny. Most artist-entrepreneurs proudly pursue “labors of love.”
  3. Stand out. Many arts opportunities are cutthroat to obtain. Creative entrepreneurs have an edge on those who have simply pursued a normal path.
  4. Address job demands. Aspects of many arts jobs, even traditional ones, require entrepreneurial solutions (recruiting students, attracting audiences, etc.).
  5. Ensure a legacy. Most artists hope to make some sort of meaningful positive difference in the lives of others. Entrepreneurial actions can result in powerful legacies.

As a blogger, I will be addressing a variety of financial, artistic, and personal issues designed to help you—the artist—thrive. Sometimes this means creative visioning. In other cases, it entails examining the nitty-gritty of arts business realities. Whether we call these explorations “Strategies for Reaching Life Goals as an Artist” or simply “Arts Entrepreneurship,” I sincerely hope you will care. Because at the heart of every post will be a single priority: your success.

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