Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

PEAK Performances

In Author: Melissa Snoza, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 31, 2009 at 6:39 pm

We tend to think of a peak performance as something we view as transformative from our own perspective, but are we the only ones in the room?

 I recently attended two workshops presented by the Arts Engagement Exchange which addressed the concept of psychographics as applied to marketing and programming in the arts.

The first was a lecture by Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre, California’s largest boutique hotel company. He recently wrote a book titled PEAK, in which he applied Maslow’s heirarchy of needs pyramid to multiple facets of an organization (customers, employees, etc.).

He also explained how rather than using demographics, he used psychographics to design his hotels and reach his customers. Each hotel he builds is modeled after a magazine, as Conley feels that the magazine industry does a fantastic job in creating an identity-refreshing experience for its readers. Need other brands that do the same? How about Apple or Prius – both of these products give the person who buys them a bit of a psychological boost, reinforcing the self-image and beliefs they espouse.

In applying his ideas to the arts, he presented three layers to the needs pyramid, the lowest being “entertain me,” then “move me,” then “transform me.” As an example, he shared an experience he had in London with a theater company that presented a moving play highlighting issues relating to racial bias, and presented by actors with disabilities.

The program itself was moving, but then the company invited the audience to stay and participate group discussions to explore the issues brought about during the performance. To Conley’s surprise, about 80% of the audience stayed. His group of 60 people stayed in discussion until 3am.

In this way, Conley described the performance as having fulfilled his expectations, his desires, and lastly, desires he didn’t know he had. He had no idea before coming to the performance that he would find himself engaged in a room of strangers, brought together by a common cultural experienced that inspired them to share stories and ideas through the night.

Following this, AEE presented a full-day workshop, where organizations could send two staffers to help to explore their audience psychographic. Groups were challenged to create specific, named identities for their core and target audience members, and were asked probing questions about their favorite place to buy shoes, choice in mobile phones, and spiritual beliefs.

We also had the opportunity to share ideas about how our organizations meet needs, desires, and more, from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to online ordering to backstage passes.

It’s an interesting thing, viewing the concert experience from your patron’s eyes. Next time you go to a show, take notes. Was it easy to find? Did you have to pay to park? Was there enough/not enough/too much information in the programs?

And how did this shape your opinion of the artistic experience before a single note was played?

Melissa is the flutist and Executive Director of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. Like what you read here? For more music entrepreneurship tidbits, visit, brought to you by members of 5HE.

Listening with intentionality

In Author: Michael Gold, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 31, 2009 at 6:46 am

-Mark Twain

Jazz is predicated on a very unique type of listening. It’s a listening style that isn’t new but one that requires some explanation. It is kind of listening that is open rather than closed. Closed listening? That seems like an oxymoron but actually most of the listening we do is listening for what we think we know and once that notion is satisfied we stop listening. But the type of listening in which we are willing to suspend our own way of looking at the world in order to try on someone else’s perspective … is listening with intentionality. This is listening with the purpose of examining, understanding and living in someone else’s world — without trying to pass judgment on that world.

Listening with intentionality is listening with the purpose of learning what we don’t already know. This isn’t necessarily what’s going on when most people say “I’m listening.” But it is what’s happening when great jazz players improvise together.

Listening with intentionality draws the other four elements of the APRIL sequences into action. It’s the verb that transforms Autonomy, Passion, Risk, and Innovation into processes you can use in the workplace – or anywhere else.

Listening with intentionality is not the same as hearing, although it begins with hearing. All of the information we use to create the world comes through the sensual experiences of touch, sight, smell, taste, and, perhaps most interesting of all, sound. I find sound to be unique for two overlapping reasons. First, we can’t close our ears the way we do with our eyes or refrain from the act of touch or taste. Hearing happens constantly. The act of hearing is so deeply embedded in our psyches that most of the time it is a sense that we are at best, subconsciously aware of and, at worst, unconscious about. The second reason this sense is different is due to the nature of the stimulus of sound itself. Sound is ephemeral. A sound occurs in time, perhaps slowly or quickly — but either way it happens and then it is gone. Visual stimulae occur in time as well, but much of what we see is fixed; we can scan it over and over again, giving us the luxury of multiple “takes” in order to perceive the deepest and most accurate meaning of what we see. With hearing, it is very different. If we wish to perceive deepest and most accurate meaning of a sound, we have only the moment of engagement to move beyond hearing and actually listen to what is happening. To really listen is an action that requires practice, discipline and awareness. To really listen means to understand the we are predisposed to a “default setting” in our minds that filters out a great deal of what we hear. We are programmed to recognize that which is already familiar. There are valid evolutionary reasons for this default setting but unfortunately in a world of nuance, change and complexity this kind of “defensive” listening often works against us. The challenge is to listen for what we don’t yet understand … and that can give rise to both dissonance and uncertainty.

Listening with intentionality means opening up and tapping into the wide realm of our own, and other peoples’, creative capacity. If we learn to “listen” as the artist listens, our businesses, our organizations, and our societies can meet the challenge of solving critical problems by developing solutions that can only be developed by means of the collaborative intelligence made possible through listening with intentionality.

Listening with intentionality means putting the other person’s mind at ease by connecting with that person for long enough to respectfully “inhabit” his or her point of view. When we are listening in this way, we are not prompting a defensive response by interrogating, demanding, judging, or disengaging. The human brain cannot proactively learn if there’s an orientation towards threat or fear. It can only reactively respond by trying to reinforce everything it already knows to counteract the threat.

Listening with intentionality means getting beyond our own operational reality for long enough to discover someone else’s operational reality — and that takes patience and practice. “Through Listening” – the kind of listening that inspires movement beyond core operating assumptions from all parties — requires that we move past old, outdated reactions we may have been replaying in self-defense since childhood … and lay the groundwork for mature, collaborative, peer-to-peer responses that make it possible for us to uncover new realities, new assumptions, and new working principles. Creating mature, collaborative responses almost always requires the ability to pose courageous questions … and then follow those questions in unpredictable directions. THIS LISTENING IS RISKY, BECAUSE IT REQURES ACCEPTING VULNERABILITY TO THE NEW.

Listening with intentionality means being ready to be curious. Curiosity is how we navigate this type of explorational listening. Curiosity taps our intuition, points us in new directions and helps us to pose intelligent questions.

Listening with intentionality means building bridges among diverse interest, and laying the groundwork for community to arise.

An Entrepreneurial Lesson and a Little Bit of Magic

In Author: Lisa Canning, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Leadership, Legal, Money, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea on July 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

Lisa 2009Today I drove into Chicago to meet two women who run and own a two-year-old-child- development center. For the purposes of this post, they and their business will remain nameless, but the jist of their story I will share because it holds a few really important entrepreneurial lessons…. and a little bit of magic.

First- a little bit of background: My meeting with these women was my first. I was referred to them by another client. They expressed interest in finding a business coach, so I made the trip to meet with them.

What I learned while I was there: These two women have created a center that over the past two years has grown from an idea, into a business plan, to a real physical location that now 100 families 3-5 times a week use weekly for their children to play and learn through arts based experiences.

These ladies are extremely intelligent, well educated, hold advanced degrees, and have had very successful careers. They were inspired to start a business together based of their common interests and past lives where they realized the importance of arts education and what it could bring to a child’s developmental learning through play. Childs Play Touring Theater, which I have written about before, has a similiar focus through theater- another extraordinary business in its own right.

But my point in sharing their story with you, is to reveal how close they are to failing in their business. While they bravely and fearlessly invested their time and money for the past two years, and risked their futures while passionately embracing their mission, they are finding themselves feeling uncertain about their future in business mostly because they did not plan for change in their business plan.

Every business plan changes. We start with one on paper and then need to keep revising it as we go. These women wrote their plan and then when it no longer made sense to follow it, stopped using it as a measuring stick.

What I mean by this is that a business plan is written with both intellectual mastery of your venture and emotional mastery of your understanding of what it will take to accomplish. It is written with a certain level of profitability to achieve, sales and specific offerings in mind. When any one of these elements is not being achieved, as a result of economic conditions, clients needs and desires or for any other reason, it is extremely important to revisit both your thinking and emotional understanding of what has changed and why.

This allows you to not only figure out how to get “back on track,” or find an equally new parallel track, but it also educates your “gut” –increasing your awareness– about what it looks and feels like when the sand under your feet is shifting and you need to zig or zag, right then. This awareness becomes critical as your venture grows, and remains critical through out the life of your entire venture.

So, as a result of having distanced themselves emotionally from their plan, and not continuing to revise their course, NOW they have a real problem- their business might not survive.

What created their problem? Where was the zig they missed acting on?

With an extraordinary economic downturn looming unannounced before they opened, plain and simply- their passion lead them to open in a large location and spend more on space than they now can afford. The business did not grow as quickly as they had projected. While they have retained customers through this downturn, they have not added them, as predicted in their plan. Having not taken a salary in two years, they are now weary, their planned savings has run out and their landlord wants his money for rent past due and frankly wants them evicted.

So what would you tell them to do? Pray? Close their doors and run?

Sometimes, in key moments in a venture- when everything can turn to dust ( and everyone has these moments) the chemistry is perfectly ripe for magic to happen. Let me explain.

You see when I was driving down to meet them, I was following the directions my GPS was giving me. As I left the expressway and turned on a major road that intersected with their street, I looked to my left and saw a business that sold kids furniture that had a name that was extremely similar to theirs. At first I thought maybe it was their location. But then I realized, while the name of this business complimented theirs nicely, it was an entirely different business.

Thinking nothing more about it I drove to my meeting. Well, as their stress filled tale unfolded before my eyes, and we began to brainstorm about how they could avoid bankruptcy and closing their doors, I remembered the building with the sign I saw around the corner from them. I quickly asked them if they knew the owner and the business and they said yes. In fact the owner of that business had made a point, on several occasions, of coming to visit and offering advice and encouragement. In turn, they had referred business to him.

It was right then it popped into my head that their business was an excellent marketing opportunity for the owner of this childrens furniture business. His store would benefit from having a play center inside of it. Why? Because nothing but parents walk in and out to pick up their kids. Parents could browse while they wait for classes to finish or as they come and go with their kids.

By pitching the idea of moving their business into his store- which by the way is a huge store with lots of extra space- not only could their synergy help each of them, but potentially these women could negotiate a free place, or almost free place, to run their business because of their ability to bring in clients to the furniture store daily and build traffic and interest for his products. Not to mention the fact that currently the owner is not open Monday through Friday- but only by appointment- and by allowing these woman to run their business in his space, he would have built in store hours and be open for business as these women easily could allow people to browse and set up the owners appointments.

It turns out that this owner is a furniture manufacturer first, and a retail store owner second. He also runs large print advertisement in major publications–the same ones that would help these two women and their business. By encouraging him to include in his advertising that he hosts a learning development/play center for children inside his store, it will only add to the communities positive impression of his business and interest in it.

Seems as though, magically, we might have stumbled into not only a clever marketing proposition for both businesses but also a way for these two women to not close their doors. And the most magical part about it was that for the most part, the idea that held the most promise and quickest fix for them was right there for the taking– if they could have been a little more able to zig and zag.

It just took them inviting a total stranger in to speak with them, with a good mind for out of the box ideas, and a lot of experience “zigging and zagging,” to let them see the connections they already had and could leverage.

Next week these two ladies have asked me to take the lead in negotiating this vision over lunch with the owner of the furniture store. I hope the cosmos keeps the fairy dust sprinkler on until then–when your parched enough to die, a little goes a long way to restoring you to life.

What Role Does Artistry Play in Creativity?

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Health & Wellness, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk on July 26, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Last week, when I attended Columbia College’s Creative Entrepreneurship Conference, an interesting tension arose between myself and a participant of the conference.

In my panel discussion, “Creative Entrepreneurship in A Time of Change”, I raised the issue of why is it that there are not more artistic individuals becoming leaders of creativity in the 21st Century Creative Economy? Why is it that on Fast Company’s 2009– 100 most creative individuals in business list only 22% are from classical artistic disciplines and shouldn’t there be more?

It seemed the thought that artistry should be at the center of creative leadership struck a nerve with a woman who, though not an artist herself, often trains teaching artists. While I won’t name this individual, her comment back to me was that artistry “is just one of many tools and that creativity does not require it nor should it have to.” She went on to add that ” it is more important that creativity be embedded in all we do and it matters little if art is part of it or not.”

Ever since that exchange I have been thinking about her comment. I agree, creativity needs to be embedded in all we do. And I feel no shame in adding that I am sure we MUST place all of the classical art forms in artistic education at the center of teaching artists themselves, and the rest of the world, how to become more creative.

For artists development, the path is simple. Artistic development first. Creativity Training second. Synthesis into an Entrepreneurial Mindset third. For all others: realization of the value of artistry first, learning from others to expand their creative thinking through artistry second, synthesis into their chosen fields third.

For artists: Those who study the arts professionally deserve more than anyone to be taught to have the vision to lead in this area because they come to it, first and foremost, with integrity, a desire to learn the discipline and the glue– passion to do something positive with their art form to change the world. While often, through the educational process, this energy becomes misguided into ” its all about me and how I FEEL when I create art,” because of all the individual focus, private lessons, single-skill building, that often translates into a myopic view of artistry and consequently few professional opportunities resulting in low self esteem, like Jim Hart said, “We need to teach our students how to have vision. Imagine the cultural implications.”

What kind of cultural implications come immediately in mind? Take for example the amazingly creative investment bank, Goldman Sach’s. Not only did they make oodles of money from their creativity, but they did it on the kind of scale that almost destroyed the US Economy. If your into economics, the Rolling Stone article about their “creativity” is a worthy read.

And in case you are wondering what “culture has to do with this”, culture (from the Latin cultura stemming from colere, meaning “to cultivate”) is a term that has different meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of “culture” in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. However, the word “culture” is most commonly used in three basic senses:
~ Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
~ An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
~The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group.

It seems unlikely that anyone in leadership at Goldman Sach’s learned their “culture” of creativity from a school trained dancer, poet, actor or film maker, but, clearly, for better or worse, they are, and continue to be, a creative culture. But what if they had? What if artistic expression had been embedded at the core of their “creativity training” as an organization? Might it have changed what kind of company they built?

Certainly “creativity” does not depend on dance, music, writing, theater or film to exist, but one’s heart is purest when the passion of well honed creative expression through a classic art form is expressed. There is nothing like feeling connected to yourself and to others through the expression of artistry. This is a very different sensation that the expression of creativity that does not necessarily create this kind of connectivity to heart and mind.

I believe artistry, unlike creativity brings a higher purpose, a need for self reflection and examination, a connection to other that can transcend words or ideas and an openness of thought that creative training alone, side swipes, at best.

And yet, artistry quickly becomes short sided and littered with dead end signs professionally without being fueled by creativity. Artistry needs to transcend itself into a creative profession, just like Alex Beauchamp writes about in her blog Girl at Play.

Artists need to develop their creativity to offer others their gifts. Creative individuals needs artistry to give their employees, companies and communities a sense of higher purpose and connectivity to their lives and the lives of others.

Artists can change the world. We simply need vision AND creative skills to embed our artistry into the cultural learning of an organization, and humanity, to become the next generation of leaders our world needs.

Polyrhythms of organizational improvisation

In Author: Michael Gold, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 26, 2009 at 2:44 am

Using Jazz music as a platform for conversations about organizational improvisation has the power to bring about a fusion in “ways of knowing.”

In much the same way that the polyrhythm combines two rhythmic entities sustaining the integrity of each identity while forming a new entity of richer complexity and possibility, the jazz ensemble engages its process in a similar fashion.

At the level of the individual there is a constant shift of awareness between intellectual understanding and somatic understanding resulting in the integration of both states. This fusion creates a third way of knowing that allows for response to change that is not limited to the boundaries of our “intellectual constructs.” We are able to tap into the deeper knowing of our somatic experience as well.

In the collaborative context of the jazz ensemble this discipline allows individuals to transition spontaneously between the role of leadership of the soloist as they probe and search for new ideas and develop existing possibilities and the role of “comping”- supporting the soloist and creating a context for the soloist to develop their ideas.

As in the jazz ensemble the effectiveness of organizational leadership is deeply interconnected with the context in which it exists. Leadership in both worlds is most effective when it understands the synergy between leading, implementing leadership and supporting the very foundation upon which that leadership is based.

The dynamics of jazz provide a platform for conversations that uncover these possibilities.

How naked are you prepared to be?

In The Entrepreneurial Artist Competition on July 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Nic Askew is many things. Film-maker, storyteller, musician, composer. I discovered his work through a friend who said that I would like his stuff. And yes, … it is absolutely very powerful and touching.

For me, Nic is a great artist and every movie has a specific message. Not a moral message but a message that makes you wonder, reflect, think, feel, … You can find his stuff on Soul Biographies where he captures the experience of being human. He make you laugh and he makes you cry. I have just watched a movie where he interviewed Dominic Miller – guitarist of Sting (a more famous person or is he also just a normal guy) about the story that’s out there waiting to be told by you.

How naked are you prepared to be?

Would You Eat A Pigeon?

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton on July 24, 2009 at 10:27 am

I was taking a tour in Scotland back in my traveling days and the tour guide in Edinburgh pointed out  a series of openings near the peak of a roof on one of the older buildings in the city.

“Do you know what those are for?” She asked everyone in general. No one did.

“Openings were built into the houses so that pigeons would come and nest in the rafters.” She explained. “If times were hard and there wasn’t much food, there was a ready supply of pigeons to be had.”

Meat that comes from a pigeon is called squab. If you’re like me, then “mmm, lunch,” is not the first thing to come to mind relating to the common pigeon, but I did have to admire the resourcefulness of those Scottish architects to consider the possibility of hard times when they were designing their buildings. When I think about eating a pigeon (alias: rat-with-wings) I have trouble trying not to turn my nose up at the very idea. It is as if eating a pigeon is “below” me, and while I may never be faced with the kind of hunger that would make squab look like a tasty dish it does make me wonder how many other things I consider “below” me that I might be missing out on.

No matter what you’re goals are in life, success is the result of turning resources into accomplishments. Doesn’t it make sense that the more resources that are at your disposal the more opportunities you will have to accomplish something that you hoped to? Thinking about squab made me start to think that maybe there were resources at my disposal that were right under my turned-up nose that I wasn’t taking into account and that maybe it wouldn’t hurt my pride too much to have a roost in the attic in case I needed it.

Primary and Elemental

In Author: Amy Frazier, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 23, 2009 at 5:03 am

Two books in my current stack, having a conversation with each other:

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, by educator par excellence, Sir Ken Robinson, PhD; and poet David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

Robinson advocates for finding your Element: that place where your natural talent and passion lie. Whyte’s sea is the metaphorical setting for the voyage we take through our working lives.

I have been reading Robinson cover to cover, as research for a creativity and innovation program I’ve helped to develop. For Whyte’s poetic meditation, I tend to page through here and there, dipping my toes in the water as it were.

I love it when books begin to have a conversation with each other. Here’s how it went yesterday:

Robinson: “When people are in their Element, they connect with something fundamental to their sense of identity, purpose, and well-being.”

Whyte: “We need, at every stage in our journey through work, to be in conversation with our desire for something suited to us and our individual natures.”

Robinson: these issues “are of fundamental importance in our lives and in the lives of our children, our students, and the people we work with.”

Whyte: “The human soul thrives on and finds courage from the difficult intimacies of belonging.”

Robinson: “Being in your element often means being connected with other people who share the same passions and have a common sense of commitment.”

Community, commitment, passion, our true natures. Sure makes sense. Sounds good. But now listen to Whyte:

“…but it is almost as if, afraid of those primary intimacies, we have unconsciously created a work world so secondary, so complex, and so busy and bullied by surface forces that, embroiled in those surface difficulties, we have the perfect busy excuse not to wrestle with the more essential difficulties of existence, the difficulties of finding a work and a life suited to our individual natures…”

Woa. If finding the Element is so elemental to our well being, and if the soul thrives in the intimacies of belonging, but that primacy is covered over with secondary busyiness in the working worlds we’ve created…how are we going to pull it off?

Let me bring in a third voice here, someone I ran across in my coursework. Good old A.H. Maslow:

“…out of this deeper self, out of this portion of ourselves of which we generally are afraid and therefore try to keep under control, out of this comes the ability to play—to enjoy, to fantasy, to laugh, to loaf, to be spontaneous—and, what’s most important for us here, creativity, a kind of intellectual play, which is a kind of permission to be ourselves.”

I’m going to build the next link here and say that I don’t think we can really attain the sort of Element-supporting intimacy with others that Whyte asks of us (and Robinson implies), if we’re not being ourselves. If that’s the case, let’s suppose in the service of the primary and the elemental, that it is play (especially play at work) which is our missing ingredient.

Or, to spin the words primary and elementary just a bit, maybe it’s time for recess.

Austin, TX: New Arts Entrepreneurial Finishing School- Opening 2010

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Marketing, Money, Networking, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea, WEBSITES & BLOGS on July 23, 2009 at 12:55 am

When it comes to insisting that all artists becoming more entrepreneurial, James Hart and I are kindred spirits. I cannot agree more with James statement that “We need to teach our students how to have vision. Imagine the cultural implications.”

I met Jim last weekend at Columbia College’s Creative Entrepreneurship Conference. James Hart is living my dream! He and his family just returned to the United States this past year, after founding, building and finally selling a professional finishing school focused on entrepreneurship training for theater students in Norway called TITAN Teaterskole.

The International Theatre Academy Norway (TITAN Teaterskole), is truly one of a kind and its creation was, for Jim, a true labor of love. The school is now in its fifth year of operation and in the very capable hands of Brendan McCall, who left his teaching position in the acting program at the Yale School of Drama masters program to head, run and own TITAN.

Now, with that incredible experience under his belt, Jim plans on opening, in the fall of 2010, in Austin Texas The Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, just like the one he built in Norway. It will be founded in Jim’s educational programming and philosophy which he calls The Hart Technique.

What is the Hart Technique?
The Hart Technique is a two-pronged approach to theatrical training. It is equal part Artistic technique and Entrepreneurship. Artists studying the Hart Technique have a foundation of artistic thinking. They know how to think, as artists. They are sensitive to the impulses that move them and have vast imaginations. They also have a practical viewpoint which stems from market realities. This later viewpoint, which is unique in American theatre training, enables graduates to aide their communities, to be necessary as artists, to fill gaps in community cultural offerings. They are fiercely determined and committed to overcoming career obstacles and know how to both lead and follow. Because of this entrepreneurship skill set, graduates are more able to make a living via their creativity. IMAGINE THAT!!!

The best way to learn about The Hart Technique is to experience it and practice it yourself. Workshops are offered in a wide range of venues–in theatre companies, colleges, universities and privately.

What makes the Hart Technique different from other theatre training?
The majority of theatre training programs in America are offering all arts technique and no business skills. This typical path is usually comprised of a version of the Stanislavski technique and its normal support classes. However, we, as educators, know that this path leads to widespread unemployment. Each reader should ask themselves, if we know that this technique leads to under and unemployment, why is American theatre training still following this standard path? I believe the reason lies in the fact that schools must be marketable. They have found a system that generates student numbers, but not students with a number of jobs.

How is the Hart Technique of service to society?
One of the facets of The Hart Techniques is that students are guided to discover their “voice” or unique perspective or way of expression. Graduates have this unique expression, coupled with entrepreneurial skills. As entrepreneurs, they know how to study their markets and communities and find gaps. They can then fill these gaps, eventually creating niches.

Graduates who know how to create opportunities for themselves, inevitably create opportunities for others. As these entrepreneur artists create original enterprises for profit, they inevitably create jobs.

What skills do graduates of The Hart Technique have?
Graduates have entrepreneurial skills. They have a knowledge of creating and adhering to a budget, how to create a mission statement, how to lead themselves and others, how to market themselves (and generate press as they do), and a wide range of other business related skills. Artistically, they know how to have vision and build that vision into a concrete reality. They are masters of brainstorming and can follow their creative impulses without fear or judgement. They understand text analysis and how to effectively play a role. Not only can they play a role, but they can direct others in the playing of roles. Often times, our graduates direct others in roles they have personally written. In brief, our graduates have the skills to compete for existing work, but have the ability to create their own.

What jobs can a graduate expect to have?
Graduates of The Hart Technique have created artistic companies (theatre and production), have sponsored gallery showings, done standup, acted in and directed films and professional theatre. Many do go on to compete for commercial opportunities of a standard nature. Still more go on to create their own opportunities, profiting as they do.

Is The Hart Technique applicable ONLY for theatre artists?
Absolutely not. The Hart Technique is applicable towards any medium of artistry AND enables artists to hop from one medium to another.

What if I am not interested in starting my own business or being a leader?
None of us knows what five years down the road brings us, much less tomorrow. One constant in life is change. Why limit oneself? Leadership skill enables one to lead oneself in the most effective manner possible (in addition to others). The Hart Technique helps artists develop discipline–the sort of discipline of a marathon runner. That is a skill set that will serve one throughout their life.

Why are more schools NOT offering similar training?
Most theatre training programs in America copy what the big, successful graduate training programs are doing (There is some exception to this, of course). Knowing that this typical system (all arts and no business) leads towards widespread unemployment, one must ask, “is it ethical to continue teaching this typical curriculum”?

In time, more schools will begin to offer such entrepreneurial training in their curriculums, as it is a system that generates employment. American theatre training NEEDS to go in this direction. This sort of training stimulates new voices with perspective. These individuals have the tehcnique to build their ideas and the business technique to make a living.

Some schools believe changing their curriculums to be too risky, if they are generating enough student interest now. However, to those institutions and individuals, I say, “Post your graduate career success record. Make public how successful your curriculums are (or are not).

Curriculums such as The Hart Technique serve students and institutions alike. Graduates have a higher likelihood of working and schools can boast of all of the graduates who work almost immediately out of their programs.

Interested in enrolling in the new school? Questions about the program, tuition, referring a student?
Contact Jim
Phone: 512.410.9335
Fax: 512.380.0155

About Jim Hart
Jim Hart is an award-winning actor, director and producer. His work has been seen in America, Russia, Norway and Taiwan.

As a director, he has directed numerous Tony Award-winning and Hollywood actors, including Marian Seldes, Roger Rees, Dylan Baker, Kerry Butler, and others. He has directed classics of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Marivaux, Gogol, Miller and more, including a large number of world-premiere productions. He is currently directing “The Story of a Mother”, an animated tale, and “On Death and Dying”, a documentary on our culture’s many perspectives on death and dying. He serves as Producer and Artistic Director of Sleeping Hero Productions.

Hart is the founder and former Dean of TITAN Teaterskole (The International Theatre Academy Norway) in Oslo, Norway and former artistic director of TITAN Teatergruppe, a professional theatre company—both of which are located in Oslo, Norway.

As an actor, Hart has performed in a number of venues including Williamstown Theatre Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Dallas Theatre Center, Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, (where he received the Judy Award for his performance of Puck), Theatre Alliance in D.C., and Internationally in St. Petersburg, Russia and Taichung, Taiwan.

Hart is a Fox Fellow, having received a grant to study ritualistic mask dancing in Bali and India. He spent nearly a year in Asia, studying ritualistic theatre in Nepal, India, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, and is one of the founders of The World-wide Art Collective, the largest theatre festival in the history of Taiwan.

He served as founder and Artistic Director of the New York-based theatre company Etudes Workshops (2001 to 2003). Etudes explored multi-cultural theatre forms of the Fantastic (focusing on rhythm, physical aesthetics, and masks and puppets). This venue, drawing teachers from a multitude of disciplines and mediums within New York, exposed artists to varied artistic aesthetics and provided ground for new collaborations to occur.

Hart’s teaching credits include The International Theatre Academy Norway, Yale School of Drama (Graduate school), New York University, Yale University (undergraduate program), the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Tufts University, Univ. of Alaska at Anchorage, Fu Ren Univ. in Taipei, Taiwan, Harlem School of the Arts, Capital Hill Arts Workshop in D.C, Classical Theatre of Harlem, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Utah State University, Rowan University, Peridance in NYC, Kirkenaer Ballettskole (Oslo), and others.

Notes from a Global Conversation (part one)

In Author: John Cimino, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 18, 2009 at 9:19 am

I was privileged yesterday to take part in a Global Conversation of the Creative Studies Training Council.  On the call were consultants, practitioners, organization leaders and artists working in the business sector from Australia, the Pacific, the United States and Canada. We were gathered to discuss our “praxis”, the ways we put our theories into practice. 

On this occasion, I was actually being interviewed by our host, Linda Naiman, an artist and “corporate alchemist” from Vancouver, and I was asked to talk about some of the influences which have informed and, indeed, inspired my work.  Fortunately, I had some time to think about this before going on the air and to chat with Linda a bit beforehand.  We had just over an hour of air time planned and we wanted to reserve time for a couple of rounds of questions and comments from others on the call.   

I decided to set the stage with some perspective on three of the big processes most all of us endeavor to activate in our work with clients: creativity, connectivity and transformation — each writ both large and small.  For example, we may aim for transformation of the whole person or whole organization (transformation writ large), but nonetheless focus a great deal of our efforts on the smaller transitions, inflection points and thresholds to new thinking our clients may encounter as they grapple with the earthbound issues of the day-to-day (transformation writ small).  Holding both levels somewhere in our own consciousness tends to clarify where we’re going and why.  Happily, my listeners agreed.

With everybody now more or less on the same page, I talked about four of my greatest personal influences: Gregory Bateson, Buckminster Fuller, Miguel de Cervantes and Maxine Greene (names you may know well yourself).  Each had a profound effect upon my thinking and growing edge over a period many years and still to this day.  For the remainder of this blog entry, I’d like to share with you a few of the gifts that came my way via one of these figures, Gregory Bateson.  (With a little luck, I’ll return to the others in days to come.)

Gregory Bateson was an anthropologist, psychiatrist and scholar who, among his many accomplishments, helped to launch the fields of systems thinking and living systems dynamics.  He often spoke about “patterns which connect” us to the starfish, the starfish to the crab, the crab to the primrose — what biologists now call homology.  This connectedness of life forms — both historically and in present time, both at the level of their shapes as well as their very molecules, their behaviors as well as their capacities for learning, thinking and adapting — this pervasive connectedness and the patterns which revealed and embodied this connectedness were underscored in countless articles by Gregory and certainly worked their way into my own formative mind.

A second gift from Gregory came in the form of his thinking about the aesthetic.  He said that the aesthetic response was predicated upon our recognition of a connection between ourselves and the object of our gaze, that the aesthetic response was coincident with an experience of self-recognition in the very thing that we beheld.  Wow!  Finally, this experience of aesthetic recognition was transformative and powerfully so.  This concept nearly blew all my circuits as I absorbed the implications of endeavoring to craft optimally effective encounters with the aesthetic. 

Gregory’s third gift was practical and immediately reinforcing of my own instinct for interdisciplinary encounters.  He called it “double description”.  Describe a thing from two different perspectives, say from a scientific perspective and an arts perspective, and you get what he called a “bonus of insight” not predictable from either of the perspectives (the science or the art) alone.  The double description works like binocular vision.  Each monocular view reveals a perspective unique to its source, but experienced together we get more than two monocular views, we get “depth”, a whole new dimension springing into existence with the experience of binocular vision.  The analogy with double description is simply stunning.  The resulting bonus of insight in double description grants us a depth of understanding we could not achieve in any other way.  This approach to learning and inquiry really fired my imagination and gave birth to concepts such as creative juxtaposition (a strategy for prompting bonuses of insight within our Concerts of Ideas) and thought path legacies (recognizing the significance of sequence in our encounters with ideas).  The implications are simply far-reaching and probably embedded in your work as well, whether or not you’ve ever heard of Gregory or his concept of “double description”.

The fourth insight from Gregory was equally superb for me. (I was just then getting used to living in two worlds, a science guy now immersed in the arts and trying to reconcile the different perspectives.)  Gregory introduced me to the concept of logical types and the different logics embedded in the systems of concepts (tautologies) comprising the various disciplines of knowledge.  To operate within one tautology (discipline or logical type) one merely had to master the rules of that particular game.  But Gregory was interested in something bigger than mastery within a domain.  His eye was on how to play well in and across several domains, how, in fact, to jump from one domain or logical level to another as nimbly and fluently as possible.  He wanted that bonus of insight from being a good jumper from level to level.  (Remember the Einstein quote, “We can not solve the problems we face using the same level of think we used when we created them.”)  We see the merits of shifting levels in many of today’s creative problem-solving strategies: shift of perspective we call it — the view from 80,000 feet vs. the view from 10,000 feet, the view from the life sciences vs. the view from mathematics, the view from population dynamics vs. the view from across the street, the view from a business perspective and the view from an arts perspective.  The multiple views are illuminating, but it’s the capacity to leap creatively from one level to the next which grants the prized bonus of insight Gregory was seeking.  Incidentally, this is where the name of our company, “Creative Leaps International”, comes from.

The culminating gift from Gregory was in beginning to grasp the meaning behind the titles of his two great books: STEPS TO AN ECOLOGY OF MIND (1972) and MIND AND NATURE: A NECESSARY UNITY (1979).  Was it possible, I thought, that our minds formed an ecology of inter-relationships among our capacities and the myriad ideas we brought into our heads?  Did the dynamics of one play out in the dynamics of the other?  And was this what William Blake was after when he said, “To the Eye of a Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself.  As a man is, so he Sees.  As the Eye is formed, such are its Powers.”  Was this concept of mind more inclusive than my mind and yours?  What about non-biological minds and Nature itself as Mind?  Talk about different levels of thinking!  Gregory made me think about the cohesion/ecology of ideas and bodies of knowledge, what Vartan Gregorian of Carnegie Corporation has called “knowledge integration”, about our basic human impulse for synthesis so easily derailed by the onslaught of new information, and on and on.  What could I do to catalyze “steps” in this direction, I wondered?  Some thirty years later and looking back, I can see that so much of my work, and that of all of us here at Creative Leaps International, was born out of this question and Gregory’s inspiration.  I owe Gregory quite a lot.

I hope as you’ve been reading these notes that you’ve seen aspects of yourself and your work in these ideas.  They are part of the legacy within which I believe we are all working.  We are pioneers, all.  I look forward to your comments and personal insights.  Till later!


Creative Personalities and Polarities

In Author: Adam Shames on July 16, 2009 at 9:10 pm

“Each of us is born with two contradictory sets of instructions: a conservative tendency, made up of instincts for self-preservation, self-aggrandizement, and saving energy, and an expansive tendency made up of instincts for exploring, for enjoying novelty and risk—the curiosity that leads to creativity belongs to this set. We need both of these programs. But whereas the first tendency requires little encouragement or support from outside to motivate behavior, the second can wilt if it is not cultivated.” ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Creativity ultimately is a balancing act between the heart and the mind. You have to be able to access your heart, feelings, imagination, impulsiveness and uniqueness–necessary for divergent thinking–and also bring in your head, your mind, your best judgment, your convergent thinking. Most of us are pretty good at employing our judging mind but it’s easy for the heart to become more and more inert, especially as adults in work situations.

The great researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (as in, that “chick-sent-me-high), whose books on creativity and flow have been essential contributions toward understanding peak creative performance, describes creative personalities as complex, containing contradictory extremes. Creative people, he found, are more flexible, “able to express the full range of traits that are potentially present in the human repertoire but usually atrophy.”

They are able to embrace polarities in a way many cannot, and Csikszentmihalyi found these to be some of the most important integrated creative traits:

Divergent and Convergent Thinking
Wisdom and Childishness
Rebelliousness and Traditionalism
Extraversion and Introversion
Playfulness and Perseverance
Passion and Detachment
Risk-taking and Caution

The ability to embrace these opposite-pole traits is part of the flexibility competency of creativity, and the facility to move flexibly among different mindsets, perspectives and fields distinguish the most creative among us. But actually mind and heart are not polar opposites. The opposite of heart is fear, and it is those two that are most incompatible (you can’t have an open heart when you are afraid). For a while I’ve been playing with this theory shown in the diagram–that there are three main currents running through us at any time, which I’ll call heart, mind and fear.

As long as we have any fear, we can’t be our most creative. If we only have mind we can be smart (like a computer), but that only goes so far. Only heart and we are feeling and open but not necessarily able to communicate or make something work. It is the integration of mind and heart, the smaller red current shown, that make up our optimal creative state. What currents are running through you right now? Am I missing one or do you see any revisions needed to this simple model?

You can read more of Adam’s posts at Innovation On My Mind.

Paradigm’s Shifted While You Wait

In Author: Gwydhar Bratton, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm

There’s a saying that many people are familiar with that goes: “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. It is understood to mean that constant activity will prevent you from stagnating in life.

There’s a saying that many people are familiar with that goes: “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. It is understood to mean that constant activity will prevent you from acquiring the important little things that need time to accumulate and patience to cultivate.

To roll, or not to roll. That is the question.

Show Me The Money

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Legal, Money on July 14, 2009 at 12:06 am

In the last couple of weeks I have been trying to help a couple of small businesses establish their legal identity, understand why they need to, as well as find financing. Below are some great articles and resources for a variety of issues related to these topics. As for financing, while there is no questions it is really a TOUGH TIME to find money, it is still possible. While traditional lines of credit from name brand banks seem virtually guaranteed to be declined in this economic climate of bank failures, if you are creative, there are still ways to find the money you need to build your business.

Here is a list of terrific resources I thought you would like to know about:


SBA – Financing a Startup
SBA article on financing your startup – Dispelling the Myths about Factoring
Alternative Business Financing Solutions: Dispelling the Myths about Factoring

Alternative Federal Credit Union
Sample of alternative credit options
Prosper is an online community for person to person lending. Individuals borrow money from other individuals on a secure P2P loan marketplace.

Checklists for Commercial Loans & Lines of Credit
Typical checklist of items required to apply for commercial loans & lines of credit.
Article on sources of financing, and where to go to look for money.


IRS – Frequently Asked Tax Questions and Answers
IRS article of frequently asked tax questions.

IRS – Business Tax Information

IRS – Keeping Records
Article from IRS regarding keeping accurate records.

Cash Accounting vs. Accrual Accounting
All businesses need to choose one of accounting methods. This article reviews two methods of accounting; Cash Accounting

HCMPublishing – Choosing A Business Structure
Small Business Structure. Comparision and discussion of LLC, S-corporations and c-corporations. – S-Corp vs C-Corp
Comparing corporate structures of S Corporations vs. C Corporations. – For Profit versus Non-Profit
For Profit versus Non-Profit

Non For Profit Corporation Information
Advantages and disadvantages of nonprofit corporation; starting a nonprofit corporation by incorporating your business today. – Why Incorporate?
Article on the true value of Incorporation

Benefits of Incorporation
Why Should I Incorporate?
Incorporate Business – BizFilings helps you incorporate your business, form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation.


The Small Business Start-Up Guide
Advice and assistance for the entrepreneur, home and new business owner. provides information, products, and services for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and professionals to start, manage, finance and build a business.

Startup Nation
StartupNation is your source for small business advice – participate in our entrepreneur forum, get help starting a business, and find resources to work from.
Caters to international business people who are actively seeking opportunities abroad. Includes searchable issue archive, also browsable by date.

Free online and face-to-face business counseling, mentoring, and training. Business help and advice for small businesses just starting or for existing businesses

SBA – Small Business Administration
An electronic gateway of procurement information for and about small businesses. Search engine for contracting officers, marketing tool for small firms.

The ages of female energy

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm


They have asked me to ‘facilitate’ a track on a creativity conference in Greenwich next week. The purpose of the track is to give a short introduction on the topic, work 2 hours with a 1/3 of the participants and have a creative presentation at the final day to ‘summarize’ our insights. The track that they asked me to facilitate is ‘power and influence’. My first thoughts were ‘Mmmm, is this really my thing because ‘power and influence’ don’t look to fit in my portfolio where I focus on creative skills, experience time and interaction with bigger groups. But my creative attitude ‘stimulated’ me to postpone judgement and let the topic rest for a while. My first associations with power and influence were linked with hierarchy, authority, dominion, strenght, reaching goals, superiority, leadership, a person showing muscles, … all more masculin associations. But then (after a while) other associations became present … networking, connecting, guidance, impact, effective, standing straight, openess, listening, … a bit more feminin words. By the way masculinity and femininity have nothing to do with the difference between men and women. Everybody has the potential to develop both kind of skills. And we absolutely need both sides of the paradox.

In the last decades, we have developed a society with male energy where things like efficiency, a high status, planning and goals, logical thinking are appreciated. And a lot of these things have helped us to get prosperity and a wealthy economy but at this moment, it looks like the balance is gone. Too much male energy leads to a society that is rigid, political and hierarchy battles, loss of the humaninity in a lot of processes. And if you look at the world at this moment, the economic system is in a crisis; people who still think that they can go on with only masculin skills are struggling to survive; organizations.

And apparently, more people think that we need more female energy into our system. Two weeks ago, I was on the future summit where 4 futurists gave their vision on the next decades and in all of their stories, the importance of a better balance between femininity and masculinity was mentioned. So I’m quite sure that the whole system needs more female energy (caring, loving, listening, waiting, developing, connecting, …). Keeping those things in mind, the track ‘power and influence’ becomes more appealing to me and I would like to explore – together with the other participants – the topic power and influence from different perspectives. I will keep you updated.

The Secret to Success – It’s easy

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 9, 2009 at 4:57 am

You can have a whole community involved in your dream.

You can be a leader, you can inspire others, you can give joy, you can have fun. 

It’s simple.  You need to dare to be foolish, to be authentic, to love the music in you and dance, dance, dance.

Dance to your own music – the one in your heart, your soul and you will inevitably inspire others to join you.  It’s a fact.  The secret is to let go.  Can’t let go?  Join an Acting Class, a Dance Class, a Movement Class…


The Impending Demise of the University

In Author: Tommy Dawin, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Intellectual Entrepreneurship on July 2, 2009 at 12:19 am

You may have seen Don Tapscott’s recent article about the future of the University:

Tapscott paints a very compelling picture of the radical changes coming in higher education, probably much sooner than most anticipate.

The article was forwarded to me by Rick Cherwitz founder and director of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) consortium. Rick’s note on the article is worth passing on:

“As you know, I agree that we need a new model of pedagogy–one that
involves more than simply implementing new uses of technology, as Tapscott
suggests. Universities (as well as K-12) are broken in a more fundamental
way. While biased, I think we need organic, student-centered, problem-oriented, entrepreneurial approaches to learning. Tapscott is on the mark in explaining why universities are so slow to change. His approach resonates with the IE platform for education.”

In view of Tapscott’s observations, you might find interesting an article
on IE that was just published this week.

Gary Beckman and Richard Cherwitz, Richard, “Intellectual
Entrepreneurship: An Authentic Foundation for Higher Education Reform,”
Planning for Higher Education, 37:4 (July-September, 2009), 27-36.