Innovating Through Artistry

Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Fear of the Pink Tutu

In Author: Amy Frazier, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 17, 2009 at 10:50 am

Over the past several months, I’ve been part of a team developing an experiential program on creativity and innovation for business audiences.

We are now stepping up our marketing efforts for the program, and in the course of this I contacted my network, asking permission to send info on “a creativity and innovation program.” One person replied with the question:

Are we talking about professional creativity, or artistic creativity?

I understood the question, and the concern which I think it implied: does this program impart business value?

But I was also struck by the terms which he used to frame the question: “professional” or “artistic.”

I trust that he is savvy enough to understand that many, many artists produce their work at a professional level; and I also know him to be a person enough in tune to the human dynamic in business settings to appreciate the artistry often evident in management and leadership. So I don’t think he really intended to imply that the two values are in opposition.

But I do think his language points to something important, something deeper—an unease with the particular type of human expression (for this discussion, we’ll label it “artistic”) which often seems, from the outside, to operate on a wierd, irrational level.

A friend and I (she is a businesswoman and artist like myself) have coined a phrase for this: Fear of the Pink Tutu.

This is the fear that: (a) if a particular type of artsy-creativity is allowed to infiltrate the corridors of industry, any number of serious-minded professionals will be seduced into abandoning their business objectives and throwing themselves into pantomimes of Swan Lake; or (b) that—in a somewhat less threatening but nonetheless similarly uncomfortable display—said serious-minded professionals will be forced to endure a demonstration of the same by an erstwhile team of artsy “consultants.”

I wonder about the Pink Tutu phenomenon. To be quite frank, I do believe, from years of experience, that there often is something mysterious about the “artistic/creative” process. And yes, that this is part of its power—for both the artist and the audience.

And, I’m also learning that there is enough stuff and nonsense out there about “creativity” in the business world, that the serious-minded professional is wise to be selective.

Still, the the idea that the sometimes mysterious, irrational process of “artistic creativity” might actually have business value needn’t be a risky proposition. Studies show that students who engage in music and drama classes score higher than their peers, not only in language arts, which we might expect, but also in math and science. Expressive arts enhance emotional literacy, compassion, and self-knowledge, at all ages.

It is, ultimately, that which is within us that drives us. But can we always name it? Or is it, too, something of a mystery? The degree to which we can experience the mysterious and seemingly irrational (or non-rational) components in ourselves is the degree to which we can fully inhabit our lives, professional and otherwise. It brings wholeness, which brings wisdom—which is a very friendly condition for professional success.

So, what color is your tutu?

Are You Relevant?

In Art, Author: Lisa Canning, Cooking & Food, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, Emotional Intelligence, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Fashion, Health & Wellness, Leadership, Money, Music, Outside Your Comfort Zone, Risk, The Idea, Theater/Film, WEBSITES & BLOGS, Writing on August 17, 2009 at 4:48 am

Are you relevant? Do you define your artistic work based on its practical, economic and social applicability to satisfy the needs of those who experience what you do? And if not, then I cannot help but ask the question, why not?

I realize that we all have a need to create and experiment in life. By doing so we are offered extraordinary opportunities to not only affirm who we are but get to know ourselves better. We learn from what works and, more often, learn the most from what does not work for us– which often allows us to find new more meaningful paths to explore.

But at what point in life do we need to become more practical, more disciplined? Is it ever to early (or late) in life to do this? And when you do, or find the help to, what are the benefits you receive for doing so?

The other day I had a young talented clarinetist– a sophomore in college- in the shop. We were discussing his future career aspirations and performing was right at the top of his list- like most of my clients. When I asked him what about performing was so motivating for him, his answer was ” Well, for a long time I was not sure I could rise to the occasion and play well enough to become an orchestral musician. It is only recently that I am starting to feel I can. Now the question I am asking myself is, do I want to do this?”

I realize that as a young adult- and even as an aging adult- coming to know who we are is a very important part of our educational journey. And alongside this process of growth and development routinely we must be challenged to answer questions like: “And if you do want to perform who specifically will want what you have to offer?”

I cannot help but wonder what we are really learning about the meaning of art, not to mention effectively reaching an audience who cares about what we have to offer from our chosen artistic field of study, if we are not challenged to explore questions like these. If you excel at Music Theory from the Middle Ages, even if you get a PHD in it and can teach it at the college level– who is it relevant to– besides you?

Take a look at my dear friend Gary Beckman- Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network founder. His received his PHD in musicology in 2007 from The University of Texas at Austin. During his doctoral course work, Gary realized that his course of study was not really all that relevant and went on to pursue something that he felt was not only more relevant, but also deeply motivating for him– developing arts entrepreneurship curriculum. Now don’t get me wrong. I learned a lot from my musicology courses and loved my professors who taught them. I also think it is GREAT that Gary has vision for the growth and evolution of arts entrepreneurship curriculum, but think of what he could have accomplished, and how much happier and entrepreneurial he might have become sooner, if he had been challenged to think about how relevant his field of study was, to him and for others, at an earlier point in life?

Questioning and experimenting with our relevancy through action is at the heart of WHY the arts must become a field of entrepreneurial study in addition to traditional skill building. THE ONLY WAY artists can create sustainable happy career paths for themselves is to learn how to produce a product– relevancy.

As a young clarinetist I too asked myself the same questions my young client shared with me. I remember wondering if I could become good enough, play perfectly enough, musically enough and in tune enough to win an orchestral audition and be at the top of the heap. I challenged myself to get there with no other focus than to succeed. ( And of course, without a course or educational guidance to help me think about my goals differently.)

I started out almost last chair my freshman year at Northwestern. By my sophomore year I was at the top of my class– beating out all the masters and doctorate students, some of whom were finalists at regional orchestra auditions around the country. And when I reached that goal, all of a sudden I realize I had no idea what was next. It was not the feeling of eternal bliss I thought I would have, nor was anyone beating down my doors asking me to audition for any major orchestra. Instead it was in the middle of my senior year that I realized that I did not feel relevant. I did not feel that what skills I had developed really mattered to anyone significantly, except for me.

So it was then that I asked myself “how can I use the skills I do have to be relevant?” and from that thought I tested my ideas by putting my solution into action- by opening up a clarinet shop and helping others develop their career paths by helping them find the perfect instrument for their “relevant” music making. It was only then that I actually understood what truly it felt like to become relevant. It’s kind of funny to me, right now, that I am back where I started- after a 20 year adventure building a large business- but life is funny like that. I am being given a second chance to look at how I am relevant and I, again, am figuring it out.

But you see what I realized the first time, at 17, was that what I did have that was relevant was a gift to help and connect to others. I also had a gift to play the clarinet well. I also knew that artists needed to feel better about who they are and find their own confidence, through finding their own relevance, to become kinder to themselves and to others and strong enough to trust themselves that they could actually change the world.

Don’t ask me how exactly I knew this then– call it my God given vision- other than I did not then, and often still do not now, see the kind of inspirational collaboration or connectivity amongst others I crave in the world to see. Of all places- the arts should be outstanding examples for others of both.

Finding my relevancy at 17 gave me my first glimpse into what it meant to make a difference in life. Is it ever too early or too late to find your own? (It’s ok too, btw, if you need a school and a mentor to help you. You don’t have to find your relevancy, like I did, alone.)

Finding your relevancy will give you vision to lead. It will temper your being into a refined piece of artwork that the world wants and that you will be happy to share.

Finding your relevancy means you will feel at peace- because you are valued. You are payed- because you are needed. And that you will feel confident- because when we feel connected to ourselves and to others simultaneously, life does not get any better.

“Are you relevant,” I ask? If not– it is time to learn how you can be….

Sept 1st- The New ETA will be live!

In Author: Lisa Canning on August 15, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I bet you thought this day would never come?

Since March 2009 the new ETA Resource Center and website have been under construction. Vast amounts of time have been consumed building a library of resources for entrepreneurial artists. We anticipate, in the future, building additional resource libraries for cultivating entrepreneurship and artistry in business, universities and government.

The new ETA website will launch on Tuesday September 1st, 2009! For the price of your email address you will gain access to a rich resource library for those of you interested in arts entrepreneurship.

Please help us get the word out! This site is a labor of love and my hope is that you feel the same way too about creating vibrant opportunities for artists and future generations of artists to come.

Lisa Canning,
ETA Founder

Art of Hosting Berlin – the chaordic field

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I am just back from a four-day training – the Art of Hosting – in Berlin. It was absolutely a great experience to work together with more than 45 people around meaningful conversations. We experienced methods like WorldCafe, Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry, circle work, … and applied them on very powerful questions.

I’m starting to call myself an experienced facilitator but being an host of such an ‘event’ goes a step further. Because we were in Berlin and it’s 20 years after the ‘Berlin wall’ came down, we worked around the topic to bring our inner walls down that keep us seperated. I liked the part about the chaordic field because it relates a lot to the creation and innovation work that I do. The chaordic field is the area that emerges from being between chaos and order. That’s where the deep learning happens. It’s also the field of not knowing (U-theory). When a system/society puts too much attention on order, you get a system of control. And that’s a very rigid system but a big part of our current society is build on control. The other side is too much chaos and then you get into the destructive chaos. New awareness and solutions emerge from the chaordic field. This field is also sometimes related to the groan zone – you feel resistance, you don’t know what you’re doing, you want to step out of the process but this is the moment where you need to be self-confident and have trust in the process.

I recognize this zone a lot in creative sessions. This is the moment where the ‘logical’ ideas have been harvested and people get stuck in the ideakillers (yes, but; too crazy; not fo our clients; …). The best ideas are found if you can ‘survive’ this groan zone. I have been in the groan zone a few times during the intense training – struggling with my mind and emotions; not knowing what I should do but every time I got through it and discovered a very nice insight. The next picture (the result of an open space session outside) is maybe the answer on the question – what will you discover if you bring your inner walls down?

(quite funny to become conscious -just now- that this graffiti image was made on a wall -the Berlin wall??? behind a fence)

I can absolutely recommend this experience to other people who are interested in exploring really deep conversations and want to learn all kind of methods and a philosophy to host big groups with powerful questions. Thanks to all the great participants and the art of hosting team who helped me to break down some of my inner walls and discover the beauty of some other walls that represent my values and strengths. And thanks to the Hub Berlin for being such a nice host for this event. Very interesting concept for all self-employed people out there who want to become part of a bigger community.


Obama dropping the I-bombs

In Author: Adam Shames on August 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm

The Prez was dropping the “I”-bomb again and again last week, talking up innovation on last weekend’s radio and Internet address and in Elkhart County, Indiana, last Wednesday. It’s nice to know that for the moment “Innovation” is a favorable term for both Democrats and Republicans. But in watching how Obama uses it–and he does indeed use it with panache–can you tell me what it really means or represents for him?

On the one hand, he makes it clear that the United States has long been home for innovators: “The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation,” he told the Indiana audience yesterday. “Innovation has been essential to our prosperity in the past, and it will be essential to our prosperity in the future,” he said in his radio address.

But he acknowledges that innovation is not where it should be right now, and is now “more important than ever” because of keener competition and tougher challenges. Check out the different ways he describes our Innovation Imperative and the assumed DNA of the United States of Creativity:

“We need to recapture the spirit of innovation that has always moved America forward.”

“We have to harness the potential –- the innovative and creative spirit –- that’s waiting to be awakened all across America.”

“All it takes are the policies to tap that potential — to ignite that spark of creativity and ingenuity — which has always been at the heart of who we are and how we succeed.”

“It is only by building a new foundation that we will once again harness that incredible generative capacity of the American people.”

“Real innovation depends not on government but on the generative potential of the American people.”

Certainly eloquent. But the truth is you can listen for hours and still not be sure what innovation is. Could we substitute a different word for “innovation”–perhaps “change” or “Obama policies”–without much lost in meaning? For Obama the CEO, innovation generally means targeted investments, particularly in new technologies and incentives related to energy, and other policies such as making the R&D tax credit permanent and reducing capital gains taxes for investments in small or start-up businesses. But that’s not what he means when he uses innovation to inspire.

Right now the I-bombs sound good–and offer some juicy quotes for me and you to trumpet the cause of creativity and innovation. But outside of investment and tax cuts, we need much more discussion on what innovation really means as a culture.

For more posts from Adam, visit his Innovation on My Mind blog…

Music Entrepreneurship Helps Young Musicians Chart Careers in a Crowded Market

In Author: Lisa Canning, Leadership, Marketing, Music, Risk, The Idea on August 12, 2009 at 2:00 am

This article is about ETA blogger David Cutler and his new book, The Savvy Musician. It was written by Andrew Druckenbrod and ran in in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday August 9th, 2009. The picture was illustrated by Stacy Innerst/Post-Gazette. I highly recommend David’s book if you want to learn how to become a “savvy musician!”

20090809musicianmoney_si_160Overpopulation, poverty and stagnation: The way the classical music industry is described these days you’d think it’s a Third World country. The recession has made an already tough existence even tougher for music students and those already looking for jobs.

“It is an extraordinarily difficult time to compete for traditional full-time jobs, like those in academia and in orchestras,” says David Cutler, a music professor at Duquesne University. “The market is over-saturated with talent, people are keeping their jobs for longer and orchestras are cutting back, not adding.”

But have things really gotten so bad that a student should follow that classic parental advice and go to medical or law school instead?

Not according to a new movement called music entrepreneurship that is gaining ground at schools around the country. Cutler is among several professors at the forefront of this change in attitude; his book, “The Savvy Musician” (Helius Press, $19.99, due out in November) is a guide to navigating these uncertain waters, targeted to those facing the “real world.”

More information about “The Savvy Musician”
• Advance copies of “The Savvy Musician,” to be released widely in November, can be purchased at
• Have you ventured off the beaten path for your musical career? If so, we would like to hear about it. Go to ClassicalMusings to share your story.
Among the topics, the book discusses details of marketing, recording and grant writing, but it spends most of its time articulating bigger concepts of the “entrepreneurial mind-set.”

For years, conventional wisdom has been that leadership in the classical music industry should work to increase demand so that more young musicians can get jobs. Better funding, it is said, should be found to expand orchestras and develop audiences, and music should be cultivated at all levels. But for advocates of entrepreneurship such as Cutler, it is the musician who must adapt to the shrinking and changing marketplace.

“The days of being just a classical violinist or jazz saxophonist are over,” says Cutler. “The musician of the future considers the whole package. You should be a great player, but that is not the goal, but the minimum.”

Many feel that music education in America — slow to change in the past half century — has failed students in this regard. “We have created more extremely talented musicians than ever before,” says Cutler. “But in curriculum, we have completely ignored many other essential issues such as how to make a living or how to make an difference in society.”

Cutler and others see the new environment brimming with possibilities, even as it has shut down or backlogged traditional routes. “It is hard, but there are opportunities that weren’t there before,” he says. “If [your quartet] tries to get a gig at Carnegie Hall, you might be up against 300 quartets, but if you go to a smaller community you can make it work.”

One sterling example is the Ying String Quartet, which began its career in the 1990s as the resident quartet of Jesup, Iowa, a farm town of 2,000 people. It performed in homes, schools, churches and banks, with a philosophy that “concert music can also be a meaningful part of everyday life.”

The Ying Quartet’s off-the-beaten path garnered national interest and forged its musicality as a group so that today the quartet is considered one of the top in the world, playing more typical venues such as Carnegie Hall.

Another alternative route was taken by a group of Chicago musicians who created a split business model. They formed two companies, a nonprofit called Fifth House Ensemble that gives concerts and education and a for-profit called Amarante Ensembles that plays parties and gatherings. Having both puts the musicians on more even financial footing and spreads out risk.

Other examples of innovative thinking abound, from the genre-bending and branding-savvy Kronos Quartet to John Cimino, a baritone who uses music-making as a metaphor for creativity and leadership in presentations to Fortune 500 corporations.

So, the problem isn’t that there is a glut of musicians, Cutler and others argue, but that there are too many seeking traditional jobs without really considering the alternatives. Colleges and conservatories traditionally have not equipped students with the right tools to prosper in a shrinking marketplace.

Gary Beckman, founder of the Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network, realized this deficiency firsthand long before the economy laid it bare for all to see.

“I went through undergrad and grad school, and I saw many musicians who were more than capable, but because they didn’t get training and information about economic reality they didn’t go on to play,” he says. “So many are lost each year.”

Beckman, Cutler and others at schools, such as the University of South Carolina, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Colorado, are on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship programs and courses emerging to train students to forge their own paths.

“We need students that have a broad view about their careers,” says Beckman, who is a visiting professor in South Carolina’s Institute for Leadership and Engagement in Music. He estimates that as many as 100 colleges offer at least one course in arts entrepreneurship. “In the context of 6,000 universities with arts departments, that it isn’t taking [academia] by storm, but steps are being made and the seeds are starting to germinate.”

“Entrepreneurship is gaining traction because it offers something significant to every student considering a career,” says Jeffrey Nytch, director of the University of Colorado’s Entrepreneurship Center for Music. It’s not just about sending musicians to the campus career center, he says, but totally rethinking their career.

“Deans and provosts are behind it,” says Beckman. “Everyone realizes there is a problem, but it is a very delicate negotiation between faculty, accreditation, community, students, funders, administration. About half a dozen colleges add a course every year, and I think there will be a explosion in the next three to five years.”

Duquesne University’s Mary Pappert School of Music will offer its first classes on entrepreneurship and leadership this fall, coordinated by Cutler, who joined the faculty in 2001. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh do not offer entrepreneurship courses, but both bring in speakers on the subject and address the business of music on a one-on-one manner. “Many people have great ideas, but if you have the skills to make them a reality, then it is a success,” says Noel Zahler, head of CMU’s School of Music.

“We have an ethical responsibility to address these issues,” says Cutler, who also will re-configure Duquesne’s contemporary ensemble to be student-driven to “function like a chamber ensemble would in the real world.”

“This is about empowering students,” says Beck. He thinks Cutler’s book brings that same confidence to those in schools or already struggling to make a living as musicians. “What David has done has helped to outline how broad an education one needs to have a career in music.”


In Author: Whitney Ferre on August 11, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Lisa Nichols


Find Lisa @


Left brain is EGO.  Right brain is “one with the universe”.

When you are critical or judgmental of your own abilities you are coming from your ego voice. Instead of thinking about how you can help yourself, think about how your strengths, passions and interests, can serve others.  When you make that switch, you disengage the ego and the elements around you will start to align to further your cause because it is for the greater good.


For you to create your best masterpiece (the art that is your life), you have to balance EGO with your conviction that you are part of something bigger than just you.  THIS is where we draw our strength.  THIS is why we believe we can achieve great things, break down barriers, create love rather than war, heal the sick, feed the hungry, speak in front of hundreds, innovate new products and ideas.


When you tap into that universal energy, that inclusive voice, you are opening up your world for extraordinary things.  That world can only be accessed via



Stengthen your right brain muscle with the creativity workouts in my book, THE ARTIST WITHIN, A GUIDE TO BECOMING CREATIVELY FIT!

Your life is art and you are the artist! ~Whitney

New Endowment Chairman Sees Arts as Economic Engine

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 10, 2009 at 1:15 am

Published in Arts Journal: August 7, 2009

Now that the Broadway producer Rocco Landesman is officially chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts — he was confirmed on Friday — his straight-talking style, Missouri roots and affinity for baseball and country music are expected to give him a leg up with many legislators.

Mr. Landesman in his Manhattan office on Tuesday with the “R” from the sign that hung at the Virginia Theater. He kept the letter after the theater was renamed for August Wilson.

But in his first sit-down interview since his nomination by President Obama, Mr. Landesman’s comments suggested that he may nevertheless raise hackles on Capitol Hill after he is sworn in in the next few days. Speaking recently in his office above the St. James Theater on West 44th Street, where Tony Awards abut baseball trophies — testament to his prowess as a producer and as a pitcher in the Broadway Show League — Mr. Landesman, 62, made clear that he has little patience for the disdain with which some politicians still seem to view the endowment, more than a decade after the culture wars that nearly destroyed it.

He was particularly angered, he said, by parts of the debate over whether to include $50 million for the agency in the federal stimulus bill, citing the comment by Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in February, that arts money did not belong in the bill. That kind of thinking suggests that “artists don’t have kids to send to college,” Mr. Landesman said, “or food to put on the table, or medical bills to pay.”

In American politics generally, he added: “The arts are a little bit of a target. The subtext is that it is elitist, left wing, maybe even a little gay.”

And while he praised the way recent endowment chairmen have carefully rebuilt the agency’s political standing, Mr. Landesman — who is known more as an independent entrepreneur than as a diplomatic company man — said he was not planning to follow too closely in their footsteps. While Dana Gioia, his immediate predecessor, made a point of spreading endowment funds to every Congressional district, for example, Mr. Landesman said he expected to focus on financing the best art, regardless of location.

“I don’t know if there’s a theater in Peoria, but I would bet that it’s not as good as Steppenwolf or the Goodman,” he said, referring to two of Chicago’s most prominent theater companies. “There is going to be some push-back from me about democratizing arts grants to the point where you really have to answer some questions about artistic merit.”

“And frankly,” he added, “there are some institutions on the precipice that should go over it. We might be overbuilt in some cases.”

Mr. Landesman does believe that the agency should be “perceived as being everywhere,” he said. “But I don’t know that we have to be everywhere if the only reason for supporting an institution is its geography.”

On the subject of the endowment’s budget, too, Mr. Landesman did not hold back. Though he would not put a dollar figure on his own fiscal goals, he called the current appropriation of $155 million “pathetic” and “embarrassing.” And he seemed to imply dissatisfaction with increases proposed by Congress and by the president, which both fall short of the agency’s 1992 budget of $176 million.

“We’re going to be looking for funding increases that are more than incremental,” he said.

As for grants to individual artists — which were eliminated in 1996 after years of complaints from conservative legislators about the financing of controversial art — Mr. Landesman said he would reinstate them “tomorrow” if it were up to him. (It’s up to Congress.)

Mr. Landesman said that as chairman he will focus on the potential of the arts to help in the country’s economic recovery.

“I wouldn’t have come to the N.E.A. if it was just about padding around in the agency,” he said, and worrying about which nonprofits deserve more funds. “We need to have a seat at the big table with the grown-ups. Art should be part of the plans to come out of this recession.”

“If we’re going to have any traction at all,” he added, “there has to be a place for us in domestic policy.”

He was less clear about the details of this ambitious agenda, though he talked about starting a program that he called “Our Town,” which would provide home equity loans and rent subsidies for living and working spaces to encourage artists to move to downtown areas.

“When you bring artists into a town, it changes the character, attracts economic development, makes it more attractive to live in and renews the economics of that town,” he said. “There are ways to draw artists into the center of things that will attract other people.”

The program would also help finance public art projects and performances and promote architectural preservation in downtown areas, Mr. Landesman added. “Every town has a public square or landmark buildings or places that have a special emotional significance,” he said. “The extent that art can address that pride will be great.”

Given the agency’s “almost invisible” budget, he said, goals like these would require public-private partnerships that enlist developers, corporations and individual investors — largely by getting them “to understand the critical role of art in urban revitalization.”

Such arrangements — which he said will be a “signature part” of his chairmanship — will play “right into the president’s wheelhouse,” Mr. Landesman added, speaking of Mr. Obama’s concerns about cities and economic development.

The new chairman said he already has a new slogan for his agency: “Art Works.” It’s “something muscular that says, ‘We matter.’ ” The words are meant to highlight both art’s role as an economic driver and the fact that people who work in the arts are themselves a critical part of the economy.

“Someone who works in the arts is every bit as gainfully employed as someone who works in an auto plant or a steel mill,” Mr. Landesman said. “We’re going to make the point till people are tired of hearing it.”

As for the former agency slogan, “A Great Nation Deserves Great Art,” he said, “We might as well just apologize right off the bat.”

Mr. Landesman said he realized he was not the obvious man for the job. “There are a lot of people whose résumés laid out a lot better than mine,” he said. “But I think the president is serious when he talks about change. I think he wanted to bring a new energy to this agency.”

Mr. Landesman’s own résumé starts with his upbringing in and around the cabaret theater his father and uncle ran in St. Louis, the Crystal Palace. Performers including the Smothers Brothers and Mike Nichols and Elaine May often headlined there during his childhood, some of them staying in the Landesman family’s basement apartment after their gigs.

Mr. Landesman, who has a reddish beard and lanky physique, did a lot of acting as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, then went on to the Yale School of Drama, where he earned a Ph.D. in dramatic literature and criticism and stayed on as an assistant professor for four years, until 1978.

After leaving Yale, Mr. Landesman started a mutual fund, bought racehorses until he had amassed a dozen — one successful horse would enable him to purchase another — and about three years ago, he said, “came within about five minutes of buying the Cincinnati Reds.” (He lost out to another bidder at the last minute, which he said was “painful.”)

In 1985 he produced the Broadway musical “Big River,” which won that year’s Tony for best musical, at a theater owned by the Jujamcyn group, the third-largest of the big three New York theater companies, after Shubert and Nederlander. Two years later he was hired as the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, and in 2005 he bought the company; in his new position he will retain his ownership stake but will not participate in the company’s activities.

Jack Viertel, Jujamcyn’s creative director, described Mr. Landesman as smart, decisive and “a very entertaining person to be around,” but also “mercurial,” “unpredictable” and “an extraordinarily hardheaded businessman.”

Paul Libin, the producing director at Jujamcyn, said he was at first “taken aback” by the idea of Mr. Landesman’s leading the endowment, but that he has come to believe that the job requires “someone who is a general,” and that his boss fits the bill.

Mr. Landesman wasn’t tapped for the job. “I’d love to say the president drafted me, and I had to answer the call of duty, but no,” he said. “I put my hand up for this.”

“Everybody I talked to said, ‘This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard, put it out of your head immediately,’ ” Mr. Landesman said. “The idea of running a 170-person federal bureaucracy seemed crazy.”

But it’s an unusual moment in history, he said, and he wanted to be part of it. President Obama was “the first candidate in my memory who made arts part of the campaign,” Mr. Landesman said. “He had an arts policy committee and an arts policy statement and arts advisers.”

Cultural mavens like himself feel they “have one of their own” in the White House, he added. “It makes the arts community feel finally, for the first time in a long time, there might be some wind at their back.”

Open-Mike Night for Entrepreneurs

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Written by Laura Fitzpatrick, August 3, 09 for Time Magazine

Open-mike-night performers always have to worry about audience members stealing their shtick. But a joke is one thing; what about a business plan? That’s a risk for budding entrepreneurs who pay $15 at the door or $20 a month to hone their 90-second pitches onstage. Attendees at the biweekly open-mike events in Philadelphia and Los Angeles offer feedback over booze and pizza, while simulcast viewers weigh in via Twitter. The wide reach makes some participants nervous. “You have no control over who’s listening,” says Michael Riordan, 26, who unveiled his plan for a New Age yearbook company at the inaugural Philly event in January. “I didn’t give a lot of details.”

The name of these entrepreneurial gatherings — Bloblive — aims to reflect the malleability of ideas. (To drive the point home, participants receive blue Silly Putty in silver tins labeled SHAPE YOUR THOUGHTS.) Founder Ami Kassar, a dotcom start-up veteran, launched the events on a regular basis in April as an off-line extension of his idea-sharing website, Plus, he notes, “being an entrepreneur can be lonely.”

Though the crowds are still fairly small — about 50 people a night — Kassar is weighing expansion into more cities. Meanwhile, participants, whose ideas have ranged from an open-source moviemaking website to a wedding registry for grooms, say they’ve gained p.r. contacts, business partners and moral support.

As for those fears that the shady guy hogging the Beer Nuts will walk off with your idea? Riordan, on his lawyers’ advice, makes people sign a nondisclosure agreement before divulging more details. Others take their chances with an honor code not to steal one another’s ideas. Says Kassar: “We’ve never heard a complaint.” At least not yet.

Click here to learn more about Bloblive.

Empty your Cup

In Author: Jim Hart, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 9, 2009 at 9:26 am

Empty your Cup.

This is one of my favorite zen stories. The story goes that Nan-in, a
zen master, was being interviewed by a philosophy professor.

Upon their meeting the professor began to tell the zen master all that
he know about zen. He talked and talked and talked. After some time,
Nan-in said, “Let’s have some tea”.

They sat for a traditional tea ceremony. The professor kept on about
all that he knew. Nan-in began pouring tea into the prof´s cup. It
became more and more full. The tea began cascading over the side of
the teacup and the Professor said, “Stop. Enough. It is full. It
cannot take anymore”.

Nan-in then said something like, “You are like this cup. You are
overfull. No more can fit. Empty your cup”.

This is the mind-frame we need to allow ourselves to cultivate.
Regardless of what we think we know, we must empty our cup. We need to
cast out our pre-conceptions and listen to information, as though it
were the first time we ever heard it. In listening with this open
mindedness, information we have known for years can resonate in new
ways and we can take on a new, deeper understanding of the material
being offered, as if it were the first time we heard it.

When I was a boy, I was extremely active in martial arts. It was my
passion for about a decade. I had five different instructors I
regularly trained with. I would hear, more or less, the same
information from each of my teachers and would marvel, at times, when
I would suddenly have a mental breakthrough, as to understanding what
each had been saying. I thought I understood, prior to this moment.
But in some cases, it was only after I had heard the information from
the fifth instructor, that I actually understood it with some level of

Emptying our cup allows for new breakthrough discovery and deeper
awareness and understanding.

We should each know that we do not really know much of anything, in
relation to what is possible to know. If we are truly open to knowing
more, and actively seek to know more, then we have the potential to be
in a state of constant self-learning. We then become our own teachers.
This state of mind is an optimal place to be as an artist (and human),
as we are then in a constant (and often rapid) state of growth.

An emptied cup perspective is one that allows for possibility. When we
think we know something, sometimes we close our minds off. We dismiss
this information as, “Yea, yea. Got it. What’s next”? That is a form
of closed-mind-ed-ness. Keep your mind open.

Empty your cup.

Jim Hart is the President of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts
(ACPA), a new conservatory, opening in Austin, TX in the autumn of
2010. For more information on Jim Hart, The Hart Technique or Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts (ACPA), see:

Successful Rest

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 9, 2009 at 4:52 am

I was reading a book not too long ago called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell and in one of the chapters he describes how it came to be that we have “Summer Vacation” in the academic world. In essence, he tells us, we liken ourselves to growing wheat in a field. We believe that we need a period in which our minds lie fallow like wheat fields; allowing the nutrients to return to the soil, before we plant it with new seed or new ideas. His argument about this is that our learning minds are not, in fact, like wheat fields; That when we let our minds lie fallow it means we have to re-learn what we have forgotten from lack of practice and reiteration.

I’m a big believer in practice and hard work, but I’m also a big believer in Summer Vacation. Work is all about production- producing results, producing materials, producing a product. Vacation is all about absorbtion- absorbing ones environment, absorbing a good book, absorbing the company of friends and family. To me, successful rest has nothing to do with sleeping and everything to do with absorbing new ideas and experiences without any demand to produce anything as a result. It is a bit of a selfish time, but in the very best way possible I think.

Where does creativity come from if not from our relationship with ourselves? And is it possible to be creative if we are constantly deny ourselves our creative and intellectual resources in favor of creating a product? The difference between Successful Rest and Just-Being-Lazy is that Successful Rest is actually quite active. It is the active pursuit of the interests and activities that you want to do for no other reason than because they interest you. Just-Being-Lazy is the act of not doing anything and having no reason for not doing it. A person returns to the normal world after a period of Successful Rest feeling refreshed and invigorated and ready to take on the challenges of everyday life. A Successfully Rested person is ready to begin producing again and is in a position to produce better products and better results. A person returns to the normal world after a Lazy vacation needs another vacation. They return to the world in the same state that they left it.

So here’s to Summer Vacation! Let’s not let our minds lie fallow like wheat fields, but instead fertilize them with our interests and our passions. And let’s not just sprinkle the fertilizer on top, but let’s turn over a whole new layer of ourselves so that when we do begin to plant the seeds of production again they grow faster and stronger than before.

Burn your Boats.

In Author: Jim Hart on August 8, 2009 at 4:54 am

If you are toying with engaging in a new lifestyle, career, artistic endeavor or life opportunity, I urge you to say yes.

But, if you decide to instigate this process of change in your life,

Burn your boats.

If you always have the back up plan, you do not always have the inspiration and motivation to pursue your goal with the energy of a comet.
Committ as if your life depended on it. Arrange your life, so that it does.

Commitment to new endeavors can, for some, be a terrifying pursuit. However, this is fear speaking. The hero’s journey is, in part, about overcoming fear…and his cousin doubt. Know that the anticipatory fear is always greater than the actual experience usually brings. In brief, we are the makers of our fear and can be the controllers and over comers.

Expect obstacles.
Expect to be tested.
Expect to be faced with experience that will cause you to question what you know and what your motivations are.
Expect to have to wrestle, not only with circumstance, but with yourself.

You are the hero of your life story and hero tales are ALWAYS about overcoming obstacles, adapting to the demands of change and persevering in the face of self-generated fear and doubt.

Expect to have to sacrifice and compromise.

Accept that nothing in life is for free. There is a cost for everything.

There is no inspiration like a gun to the head. When you need to make a living, your chances of doing so are infinitely greater. If there is room in your life for slack, for laziness, for procrastination and self sabotage, cast it out.

The reason the army and Buddhist temples alike shave ones head is that they put the participant in a mind frame of focus and they strip the individual of their old identity. They are no longer that, they are now something else—a soldier or a spritual warrior.

We need to develop a warrior mind-frame. Great generals steer their forces (let’s call it energy) around the opposing energy, to disarm and overcome. That is our goal. We must disarm obstacles and overcome them.

Only fierce commitment, a having just burned your transportation home mentality is going to enable to have the resolution, the strength of commitment to achieve your full potential.

If you have never tested yourself on that level, I urge you to do that. Experience how strong you can be. Push and test your limits for strength. Many of us, but not all, will find that we have more strength their ever imagined humanly possible.

It is a process that will change you.

Begin the act today.
Jump out of the plane. If you want to feel what it is to skydive, if you want to feel greatly, if you seek an opportunity that can give greater depth of experience of what it is to be alive, commit today.

If you are still reading this, if you have not already stopped, I would guess it is because what I am saying, resonates for you, in some capacity.

Consider this writing your call to adventure. The herald has arrived at has put forth the token of change. Now, will you accept it? Will you commit to build the life and career you dream of?

The Hero, on their adventure, typically rejects the call at first. If you find yourself doing that, don’t abandon playing with the thought of “what if”. Following their first choice to say no to the adventure, the hero says, “ Yes”. This saying yes is an embracing of change. The hero goes into the darkness, the unknown land (that which is foreign to their consciousness). They do not know what will happen next. It truly could be, that they could be crushed. In the same, there is the potential for treasure. That treasure is always self-knowledge. That is what the hero journey is all about. Know thyself.

Committing to this call, saying yes to the adventure I present you, will open doors that previously you may have thought closed.

Meet your destiny half way.

Jim Hart is the President of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts (ACPA), based in Austin, TX.

For more information on The Hart Technique and Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, see:

Are Artists “Creative Professionals”?

In Author: David Cutler, Creative Support, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Music on August 8, 2009 at 1:23 am

I recently served on a panel focusing on Entrepreneurship “for Artists and Creative Professionals.”  During the discussion, we addressed various exciting ways that creative professionals solve problems in our communities, businesses, government, and schools. We celebrated their potential to lead, innovate, and serve as catalysts for change. The talk was undoubtedly inspiring.

But I was particularly stuck by the phrase “Artists and Creative Professionals.” After all, there are two ways to interpret this statement:

1)      Artists (one category) and creative professionals (a separate category)

2)      Artists and other creative professionals

Of course, the intent was clear.  There exists an assumption that artists are inherently creative. We’re not like mathematicians. Our field is creativity.

But is that the reality? And are we training arts students with this goal in mind?

In music training (I’m best equipped to address my own field), the unfortunate answer is overwhelmingly no.  Students are typically required to follow “correct and authentic performance practices.” Classical majors play standard lit—often chosen by their teachers or ensemble directors—in standard venues, wearing standard attire, for standard (and small) audiences. Composition projects are rare, with improvisational expressions rarer. Risk taking plays no role whatsoever, as mistakes are considered the enemy rather than a healthy and welcome part of the process. And forget about creativity training on larger issues.  Oddly absent are discussions on cultural relevance, how to create a viable and prosperous career, or finding solutions to real problems facing our world. Truth be told, we train musicians a lot like math majors.

In a world economy/environment where many tasks are outsourced to computers and citizens of third world countries, it’s easy to understand the necessity and power of creativity. And I love the notion that artists have the potential to be important players in today’s paradigm. But artists, as individuals and a community, will only play this role if they are trained accordingly.

If arts education continues to focus simply on developing accomplished practitioners (which we currently do quite well), the outcome will be predictable. We will continue to have an army of over-trained, under-employed artists struggling to capitalize on the shrinking number of existing opportunities available to them.

But if we somehow modify our educational system to train creative professionals who use their art form as one of several potential tools, the equation will change. Not only will the role of arts organizations grow exponentially, but artists will increasingly become dynamic forces in other sectors. Businesses looking to stand out will favor hiring individuals with arts training. Government will turn to artists to help solve problems of the day—from national security to crime to health care to economic growth to foreign affairs. Schools will hire artists to help restructure curriculum both in and outside the arts.

To be sure, “creative professionals” are already doing this important work. But there’s a genuine need for more creative minds, and too few artists are among this group. Of course, there are some, but they develop more by accident than design. By transforming arts education into creativity education with an arts emphasis, we not only help our students, but also our communities and the nation at large.

Then, suddenly, everyone will want an arts education. 


David Cutler balances a varied career as a jazz and classical pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and conductor.  Visit for information about his book (now available!) The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference, a Resource Center with 1000+links, and much more.

Enjoy the vistas of an off-road adventure–having avoided the standstill traffic, far below.

In Author: Jim Hart on August 7, 2009 at 3:27 am

I like to think of training students in Entrepreneurial Arts Training, much like building off-road muscle cars, capable of competing in the harshest of conditions. Allow me to elaborate.

At ACPA (Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts), we give our student artists a superior experience—a mentor-guided process of education, coupled with intensity of hours spent practicing, to hone their craft. The educaiton is equal parts Entrepreneurial and Artistic techniques. When our graduates enter the market, their discipline and form are like that of a well-tuned, warmed up off-road muscle car. Can you hear the engine roar like a big cat? These empowered individuals are capable of staying on the road (or going off), moving at great speed, maneuvering around obstacles and logging significant miles in their journey.

As they have been working on their original projects over the course of a semester to two full years (while still in school), they develop momentum–momentum that carries them into their professional lives. Their personal creative energies are in a state of forward motion. Consequently, when they graduate, they do so not only with their feet upon the ground, but at a run.

The discipline these individuals have can also be equated to that of a marathon runner. A marathon runner trains every day and knows how to go the distance. Such discipline, dramatically increases these students’ likelihood of making a living from their skill sets.

This example is in direct contrast to what most institutions provide, in way of technique and approach to art training. Most art schools provide an arts-only approach (heaving in intellectual theory). These students may have their artistic technique in good form or their “engines are in good shape”, but without the business skills, these automobiles, upon there break for the starting line (graduation), can quickly run into a ditch or go endlessly in circles, as the driver, controlling the vehicle, does not have the skills or tools to get him or herself to their desired destination. Worse, these drivers can get stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, which slows their momentum down to inertia. And as we know, inertia is deadly to the creative process. This place of inertia is the “standard path” that most artists are put upon—the commercial route, with its typical path of pursuit. It is a path that is completely over saturated.

Our students need proper tools–like maps and GPS–and to know where they are going and where they are at any moment. We need to make sure these vehicles have 4×4 capability, to go where there are no roads, creating paths of their own. More, we educators must make sure that they are fit to withstand the rigors and shock of creating ones own path, which can be bumpy, dangerous and fraught with peril.

When a driver and vehicle strike out into the landscape, where there are no roads, they will likely encounter obstacles. Our job at ACPA is to teach these vehicles how to deal with and to overcome these obstacles. They will need to know where to find fuel and how to keep their engines well tuned.

Many find that when they do exit the long beaten standard roads, that the vistas can be absolutely amazing; that they can encounter environments they never before knew possible. They have opportunity to experience the landscape of life, as they are not in the standstill, bumper-to-bumper highway traffic, far below.

ACPA wants our “cars” to gain miles and be on the road for a very long time.

Entrepreneurial Arts Training develops leaders–not just of others, but individuals capable of leading themselves. These independent artists can perceive and work to fill gaps (and needs) in their community cultural offerings. They are trained to be sensitive to the impulses and interests that move them and know how to express this sort of artistic insight. Students, such as will graduate from ACPA, will not only be highly empowered individuals, capable of making a living from their creative skill sets, but will become the future leaders of arts in America and abroad. These leaders, partly being influenced by their dynamic educational background, will promote far-reaching cultural change.

For more information on ACPA and Jim Hart, see

Go Inside Today…

In Author: Whitney Ferre on August 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm

The man who has no inner life is a slave to his surroundings.
~Henri-Frederic Amiel

(Amiel was a Swiss philosopher, poet, and critic, who in 1849 was appointed professor of aesthetics at the academy of Geneva, among other positions.)

Wow!  Meditate on this quote for a moment….

If you are not inward, you are outward.  Outside of ourselves is our surroundings–the physical world.  If we are controlled by the outer world we are like the reed that bends in the wind, constantly reacting to the things (often out of our control) around us.

PAINTING & creative activity develop your life within.  Your ARTIST WITHIN

As you become more and more creatively fit these types of abstract concepts should become easier to comprehend.  Just as you have become better at seeing the outlines and painting them on your canvas, you are able to imagine other things that do not currently exist right in front of you.  Your right brain muscles have been stretched and flexed so that they are able to adjust to the more subtle nuances of your daily life.  You have begun to notice the art in your surroundings, your outer life, and will now begin to notice the artistry in your inner life, the part of you closer to spirit.

I won’t go any deeper in this round.  Just start opening up to the awareness of your inner world.  Remember this quote:

First, there were two worlds.  The world of everything “out there,” and the “you” that saw that world through the window of your eyes.  Now there are three worlds.  The world out there, the world “in here,” and the world of things you make.  Peter London, No More Secondhand Art

Whitney Ferre’ leads Creatively Fit Marathons.  This is an excerpt from a “mile”.  Contact her for more info.

Whitney Ferre Original Art

The Business Community and The Arts

In Author: Lisa Canning, Creativity and Innovation, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Health & Wellness, WEBSITES & BLOGS on August 5, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Late last year, Americans for the Arts merged with Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), creating the largest-ever advocacy group for the arts in the private sector. The idea behind the merger was to create a partnership that will increased private-sector support for the arts and arts education by engaging and educating business leaders nationwide on the economic impact and value of the arts in business and community settings.

The Business Committee for the Arts, Inc. (BCA), was founded in 1967 by David Rockefeller. It is a national not-for-profit organization that brings business and the arts together. It provides businesses of all sizes with the services and resources necessary to develop and advance partnerships with the arts that benefit business, the arts and the community.

Why is BCA so important to the development of the arts? Because private-sector support for the arts from individuals, foundations, and businesses represents a critical piece of arts funding in America and yet in recent years, the larger private-sector relationship with the arts and arts organizations has changed dramatically. While business leaders continue to support the arts, recent modest gains in overall giving disguise the fact that the market share of total philanthropy devoted to the nonprofit arts has declined by nearly one-third since the early 1990’s.

As stated by Americans for The Arts “In the current economic climate, it is more important than ever for businesses to invest in the arts. This investment advances a company’s visibility and brand, improves employee morale, improves quality of life, and provides economic benefits to the entire community”.

Each year BCA recognizes 10 companies that demonstrate exceptional involvement enriching the workplace, education and the community. Here is BCA’s list for 2008:

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Houston, TX
Brown-Forman Corporation, Louisville, KY
Emprise Bank, Wichita, KS
First Tennessee, Memphis, TN
H&R Block, Inc., Kansas City, MO
Limited Brands, Inc., Columbus, OH
Northwestern Mutual, Milwaukee, WI
Sweetwater Sound, Inc., Fort Wayne, IN
Wachovia, Charlotte, NC
Zions First National Bank, Salt Lake City, UT

Want to learn more about BCA?

When to Take a Gig

In Author: David Cutler, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, Music on August 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm

All artists, and especially entrepreneurial ones, are presented with many opportunities throughout the course of their artistic life.  When a gig or other opportunity comes your way, you will be confronted with whether or not to take it.  Some offers are clearly too good to pass up, while others are riddled with problems and not worth your while.  But sometimes the choice is not so clear.  Perhaps the opportunity would require you to refocus energy in a completely new direction.  Does it have the potential to unlock new doors in the future, or will it just be a distraction from your primary goals?  When deciding whether or not to accept a gig, weigh the amount of time and life energy it will take against the benefits it has to offer, which may include: 

1)      Pay.  Will the compensation make it worth your time?

2)      Connections.  Will it build relationships with potentially important people?

3)      Future Projects.  Will it open the door to new opportunity?

4)      Personal Satisfaction.  Will you find fulfillment from the work?

5)      Prestige.  Will it add to your reputation?

6)      Skill Development.  Will it help you develop a new ability?

7)      Portfolio Building.  Will it fill a gap in your work experience?

8)      Artistic Challenge.  Will it help you grow musically or intellectually?

9)      Debt.  Will it repay an obligation to someone who has helped you in the past?

10)  Service.  Will it allow you to contribute something meaningful to the community?

Rating Scale:

# of Benefits Comments
8-10 Take it!  This is a dream gig.
5-7 The gig has an incredible amount to offer you.  Take it if at all possible.
3-4 This still sounds fairly appealing.  As long as you don’t have too much on your plate, take it.
2 If you really need the work, you may need to take it, but in the meantime, try to create some more opportunities for yourself.
1 Only consider this if you are desperate for work.
0 Run and don’t look back.


David Cutler balances a varied career as a jazz and classical pianist, composer, arranger, educator, and conductor.  Visit for information about his book (now available!) The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference, a Resource Center with 1000+links, and much more.

Bohemians and Burning Man

In Author: Adam Shames, Authors on August 5, 2009 at 3:03 am

In his research investigating what helps drive economic growth in cities, Richard Florida discovered that the concentration of certain groups of people in geographical areas is clearly correlated to economic success. One of those groups he calls “Bohemians”–the artists, hippies, non-conformists and those “open to experience” who have generally lost favor among our MBA nation of the last few decades. Florida’s Bohemian Index (learn more in this interview) is much higher in the regions and cities whose innovation and economy are thriving.

So where are these very important Bohemians? Seek out more about Burning Man and ye shall find.

Unbeknownst to most people here in the heartland, this time of year once again beckons the Bohemians to gather in the Nevada desert for a week-long, mind-expanding, creativity-exploding festival culminating in the burning of a huge wooden man on Saturday night of Labor Day weekend. We’re talking 50,000 people, many of whom have worked on museum-worthy art projects throughout the year that they will showcase, coming together for the most unbelievable creative experience now available on the planet. While words can’t do it justice, here is a glimpse into Burning Man through my eyes a few years back: Read my experience of Burning Man here.

Now, while it’s been a cool summer in Chicago, many people would be surprised to learn that some of the creative heat of Burning Man can indeed be found in Chicago each month at the Full Moon Jam near Foster Beach. If you’re in Chicago and would like to see and experience a little Bohemian energy–not to mention fire spinners, drummers, dancers and people preparing for the trek to Burning Man in a few weeks–come out this Wednesday night around 7:30pm with your own openness to experience. Last time I ended up jamming on my harmonica with some sax players (picture) and enjoying the amazing pyrotechnics of the performers.

Given the research from Florida, I think it’s high time to let the Bohemians out–or at least let the Bohemian side of you show its feathers and spread its wings around town much more often.

Craving Voice Art Project for Social Change Part 3

In ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on August 3, 2009 at 5:51 am

Preliminary Observations to the Creative Act
After almost a year of working with opiate addicts as a counselor, I had heard what I felt to be almost every conceivable story. Even before this point, it was possible to see that there were similar story lines that characterized the population’s history despite the fact that the people, and some aspects of their stories, were so diverse. However, similar or different, the people coming to the clinic shared a common chapter of addiction and coming into recovery. Still, many of the people appeared to tell their stories as though they thought that they were the only people to ever have experienced them. It seemed to me that they could not imagine that everyone in the building, and likely many outside it, could probably relate to at least a piece of their story.
This sense of isolation is the product of marginalization. Marginalization is defined as “the denial to groups or individuals of access to positions and symbols of economic, religious or political power” (Corsini, 2002, p. 569). Marginalized populations are groups of people whose lives are affected detrimentally by not being represented within the society in which they live. For example, public misunderstanding about the nature of drug addiction and drug use leads to public policy that damages both drug addicts and drug users. An example of this was the difficulty there was setting up and maintaining needle exchanges and educating Emergency Medical Care staff in how to administer NARCAN, a drug used to stop the process of overdosing, within the neighboring communities of the clinic. Communication can collapse this segregating tendency, which can block positive change on so many different levels. Art, in my opinion, is one form of communication.
For example, the Laramie Project’s (Kaufman, 2001) purpose is to raise awareness of problems resulting from homophobia. The creators of this project conducted interviews with people that were in some way involved in the murder of a homosexual man in Wyoming. The material from the interviews was turned directly into a theatre script. The play is performed to inform people about this particular event and therefore hopefully to prevent hate crimes in the future. This project was effective because of its ability to communicate directly how violent acts are created by homophobia and general human ignorance.
Art can also give a voice to those who might often be left out of the dialogue. It can provide a way for people to work together and come to a deeper understanding of the other’s needs and ways of being. Because expression does not require educational degrees or financial backing, art can function to put people on equal footing. This can potentially break through many rigid social structures (Assaf, Bacon, & Korza, 2002, p. 6).
After almost a year of working in this environment, I was acutely aware of the bureaucracy that existed within the clinic. It was designed, whether intentionally or not, so that it keeps people dependent. By this time, I was aware of the power dynamics (Rogers, 1977, p. 4) at play, which sometimes forced the clients into demeaning and degrading positions and limited their ability to move on and heal (p. 3-28). There was also an intense and narrow focus on the drug addiction that was represented by a pervasive belief that if someone simply did not do drugs, his or her life would be better. Rogers writes, “To me it is entirely logical that a technologically oriented society, with its steady emphasis on a greater control of human behavior, should be enamored of a behaviorist approach” (Rogers, 1982, p. 57). Logical or not, I saw a supposed healing community that was set up to keep people from healing.
I also saw these defeating structures in the larger community. Many of the clients had histories of incarceration, criminal charges, debt, and medical problems. These histories left them with little chance of having successful lives within the larger community. For example, clients were refused adequate care from medical institutions, prescribed addictive drugs when they obviously did not need them, and refused drugs when they did. They often wound up unable to secure work or suitable homes. These dynamics frequently made clients dependent on even the inadequate care they could get from the clinic. It appeared to be their only chance.
After a year of working with the clients, I was also aware of their self-destructive behavior. If they did get a chance, many of them would destroy it much more quickly that they were able to attain it. They would attack people who were trying to help them. They would lie and steal so that no one could trust them. They would retaliate against their own self-constructed destructions, which appeared to them to be mostly external, with anger, guilt, shame, pseudo-nonchalance, or whatever technique that had worked thus far.
The reasons for these types of behavior are supposedly well known in the therapeutic community. However, I infrequently saw anything that looked like a real communication (Rogers, 1980) or a stance that was authentically supportive and not enabling (Corsini, 2002, p. 328; Rogers, 1980). I saw very little life-affirming change and many more deaths. I frequently wondered if these people had much of a chance and what it would look like if they had one.
It was at this point that I was asked to create a painting as part of an awareness campaign. My mouth eagerly accepted, a sometimes-unfortunate characteristic of many artists, before my brain thought it through, and I was instantaneously in a quandary. I was aware by this time that the major problem that held all the others in its frame was that everyone involved was only willing to listen to his or her own narrowly defined version of why things were the way they were. If I created a painting that crossed these distinct parameters of belief, it would likely be rejected as utter insanity. Although I might, if I had maintained this approach, have succeeded in confrontation, I would have failed to communicate. Confrontation in my mind is often chosen, and sometimes necessary, for political and social change. Communication is needed for healing. Communication was of essential importance in this situation where many of the problems experienced were exacerbated by its lack. To communicate effectively in an authentic and direct manner appeared virtually impossible. In the words of Carl Rogers: “How can I maintain my integrity and yet hold a position in a system that is philosophically opposed to what I am doing? This is a terribly difficult problem, often faced, I suspect, by many of us” (Rogers, 1980, p. 46).
I struggled with the issues brought to the fore in staff meetings so that I might nourish some ideas and make them strong enough to connect what was important to treatment as seen by the clinic and what I knew from experience. I kept wondering, “What was this awareness I was asked to campaign for?” The treatment issues, which were said to be important in staff meetings, were rarely what appeared to be most important to the clients. And although little changed with the clients (some made it; some did not.), many of the staff kept on pursuing ways to teach the clients how not to be who they were. Implied in the staff’s behavior was the idea that the clients would be happy if they could only learn to be and do as they were told. In my mind this is the antithesis of a healing environment.
The behavioral approach, which is found in many facilities aimed at improving mental health and is the predominant methodology for treating substance abusers, is effective at changing behavior (Mogenstern, 2003). However, this effectiveness does not translate into comprehensive healing (Tatarsky, 2003). For example, substance abusers, who have succeeded in stopping their intake of illicit drugs or alcohol, frequently continue associated behaviors. These continued behaviors are the same ones that were used to determine that there was a substance abuse problem in the first place. Failure to understand and treat the whole person rather than just the problem is a limitation of the behavioral approach. Broad-scale change in this area will most likely take much time. However, the implementation of supplementary programs that do not conflict with already-established clinic policies and increase the effectiveness of the facilities goals could prove to be useful in both the short and the long term. By examining the healing effects of art projects used to work with social issues and effect healing, it is possible to use these projects as supplementary programs. It is this gap, between the established clinical structure and the needs of the population it was intended to serve, that I attempted to bridge with this project.
I recognized that I could not address every aspect of being a drug addict in recovery. I could not speak for every drug addict. For a brief while, I had tried to play peacekeeper and I had recognized that there was no chance I could be creative from the clinical perspective or that I could create a useful piece that was an overview of the entire situation. At this point, I had to do what I had always relied on my art to do, tell the truth, to the best of its and my ability. The truth, within this context, was contained within the stories I was told by the clients.
It appeared that the best approach to this project was to attempt to “hear the deep human cry that lies buried unknown far below the surface of the person” (Rogers, 1980, p. 8). It appeared many clients had banished the “unsuitable” memories and thoughts to dark and deserted corners of their brains, similar to the ways the clients themselves had been banished by much of society; they were trying to believe that they were like they imagined everyone else to be (Colman, 1995; Perera, 1986). I decided I could try my best to honor these stories and the clients who experienced them. I understood this honoring as being facilitated by the healing agent of empathy (Rogers, 1980).
Maintaining an empathetic stance, I gathered the material and created the final product of the painting. In Up from Scapegoating: Awakening the Consciousness in Groups (1995), Colman describes the dynamics of the empathetic approach:
To work in a group this way, I need to know the compound better than the molecules, and the mixture more than the compound. I must soften my focus and my boundaries, then expand my awareness to include the experience of myself in the group, then the group in me, and finally just the group. The pattern of the whole must emerge full force. In temporarily accepting the group collective as my consciousness, I must trust that the “I” will be back later to translate what I have experienced in the language of individuality so that I can communicate it. But for now, I am reaching toward an “other side” of consciousness (Colman, 1995, p. 64).
The empathetic approach is natural for many artists. For me, it is an essential element in understanding my subject. Empathy is intrinsic to a theory of art that is socially conscious. Examples are feminist and New Public Genre Art. Susan Lacy says: “Empathetic listening makes room for the other and decentralizes the ego self. Giving each person a voice is what builds community and makes art socially responsive. Interaction becomes a medium of expression, an empathetic way of seeing through another’s eyes” (Lacy, 1995, p. 82). Within the project, “Craving Voice,” empathy was an important agent of change. The people with whom I was working did not have voices within their communities, families, or frequently, even the clinic. Creating an open and empathetic environment gave them a space to be and speak in a way they had not experienced before. This had apparent benefit.

Description of the Painting: Visual and Conceptual Form
As an artist I find the visual form of “Craving Voices” lacking. The painting has integrity because of its importance as a healing agent; however, it in no way pushes the edge of art. This has been, from the beginning, one of the most difficult aspects of this project for me. My ultimate goal is to have a very high degree of fusion between artistic form and healing effect. This did not happen with this project. However, the success of this painting as compared with others, with regard to its ability to effect healing, made it most appropriate for an evaluation from a psychological perspective.
The starting point for determining the aesthetic composition of the painting was the stories of the clients that were heard with an empathetic ear. It seemed natural and productive for me to write down the pieces of the story that I heard repeatedly from people with whom I was working. Telling their story meant to me that I was going to leave the words in the same language in which they were spoken. For example, the word “anguish” would not be used in place of the word “pain” unless this was the predominant way participants described how they felt. The purpose of this piece of writing was to capture the essence of what I thought this population was experiencing during the initial phase of recovery.
One of the most frequently asked questions was, “Will this get better?”  It appeared to me that the fear of pain, suffering, and confusion lasting forever was often one of the reasons for relapse. How can someone believe that things will be better when everything in their environment is negative? How can someone continue to suffer the trials of the moment without hope or faith in the process of life? I believe that one of the most important therapeutic elements at work during sessions was my belief that whomever sat in front of me could change to meet his or her heart’s desire. But quite frequently, it did not get better, nor did many even know what “better” meant to them. However, hope tempered with the realities of the moment might secure survival. In addition, the painting’s purpose was to create a pathway to healing, as well as to convey the messages told by participants back to them in a way that they felt they had been heard.
In the end, I decided to leave the words as words and not turn them into an image. I did this because the words represented the limited thought patterns of the clients and were limiting thought patterns in themselves. An attempt to translate limited thoughts into a less limiting form of a visual image is akin to trying to translate the Bible into God. Creations of this type look stiff and feel like cartoons or advertising. Much of what blocks healing in both therapeutic and societal settings, in my opinion, can be understood as attempts to take a single effective principle and expand it into a panacea for all. For example, equating a change in behavior to an achievement of total health. Allowing things their appropriate context is beneficial; this is what I wanted to do with the stories. Historical stories are limited and not expansive structures for the same reason that the past cannot be changed. However, one can change one’s relation to it. Respect required that I represent the stories true to their form within the painting. Thus, the stories remained as words placed into the more expansive possibilities of the canvass and possibly someday life itself.
When reading the words that were chosen to represent this phase of the participants’ lives, it is important to remember that they came from the mouths of people who had decided that they wanted to stop using opiates and had experienced significant difficulty in doing this. As an artist working empathetically to translate others’ stories, I am not making a statement about the larger category of drug use, but rather expressing the story of a group of people and their particular experiences with opiates. The words of the stories are as follows:
When was I addicted? Right away. It just worked. I kept going back. It didn’t take long. How much? Too much. I need it to feel normal. I lost it all: car, family, lover, house, self-respect. I mean, I lost everything. It was all about the drug. And now that I am clean, all I can see is loss, and all I can feel is pain. Mine and those that I hurt. Irony is it’s like my lover died when I stopped using. I don’t even know what to do for fun. My old friends are either dead or still using. I feel so alone. Sometimes I think that I should go back to using, but then I remember how I got here. I wonder will it get better? Yes.

When I finally painted the words, I paid attention to how they fell on the canvas. I did not become obsessive about this. For the most part, I wrote the words as they fit. However, through composition, I accented both the phrase “I am” and  “remember yes.” With color I accented “now I can see, feel” and the words “love,” “feel,” and “right away.” As I wrote previously, I see these bits of story as limited thought patterns. Out of these reflections emerge the potential of a new thought pattern, new ways of being, which can be found in the text emphasized as well as the positive endnote of the reflective narrative.
Sketching one day, I drew an image and knew that it was the image that I wanted to use in this piece. However, I could not really understand how it would fit into the format in which I was working. It turns out that it did not. It, unlike the words, represented the live, real, organic, and growing form of the person in recovery. The figure was not leaping blissfully in an open space next to a golden sun, as depicted in much of the imagery in the recovery propaganda, which all but promises more radiant sunsets after entering the clinic. The figure is sitting curled around itself with its eyes closed. The figure represents the real, the potential of the person, which can be used in any way by that person.
Both Jung (1997) and McNiff (1992) discuss the benefits of free association with an image or symbol in order to draw out deeper levels of its meaning. Time meditating on this figure might bring one to some of the conclusions that it brought me. It is the figure of someone who had moved away from their past just slightly, someone who is in the trenches of recovery—uncertain, perhaps, if there is sunlight. This is how I perceived many of my clients. They appeared to be in a psychological space where all the fears and the questions might take them over and make them think that the path that they had chosen, most of them out of desperation and pain from loss, was not a worthwhile one.
This space of little movement can be seen in ritual—for example, the blindfolding and disorienting of initiates during the separation phase of ritual (Turner, 1977; Jung, 1964). It can also be seen in the mythological space of the hero. Campbell writes: “That is the basic motif of the universal hero’s journey—leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer or more mature condition” (Campbell, 1988, p. 124). Sometimes, the hero has to spend time frozen or in darkness. For example, Han Solo, a hero from the Star Wars Trilogy, gets frozen in a copper compound (Lucas, 1983). Part of his journey includes this conscious but immobile state. At points one has to surrender, as this figure appears to be doing, so that one has a chance of succeeding in one’s quest.
The figure appears embryonic, to be just coming alive, to be painfully aware, like never before, of the mistakes and losses that are often unchangeable. Whether we have been in recovery or not, it is a place that we have all visited. To further support this view of newness, the figure is also almost blank white, as if ready to be given more dimension, to be filled in. At this point in time, the person has the potential of being born anew. “The self is made up on the growing edge, of models, forms, metaphors, myths, and other kinds of psychic content which gives it direction in its self-creation” (May, 1975, p. 99).
The figure could also just have shot up. It could be an image of one’s past, one’s last relapse, or one’s last fix.
The figurative image, and all its possible associations which bring it meaning, came to rest on the words below it. In the context of the painting these words also have a pictorial as well as a narrative aspect. They can become the boxed-in words of the story. They are much too small to live in. These words contain truths but even in their pervasiveness do not create the whole picture, only a part of it. They can be the labyrinths of thought. These words add dimension and small bits of color—color, which is found in small amounts, dispersed throughout. It does not make a concrete form. It lends itself to neither beauty nor ugliness. The dispersed color creates a liminal feeling. The words can be seen as behind the image, as not restraining. The words can be a wall that stops one from going back. The words can be the pain of the story blocked by someone who just got high.
The eye refocuses. It moves away from these words towards a free form capable of stretching and expanding. What is this figure doing? Has is just finished shooting up? Is it tolerantly waiting for something to pass? Is it sleeping, waiting to be reborn? Is it a person waiting for solidity? Perhaps it is a figure that represents the noble part of the person that can endure until the time is ripe to extend beyond his or her previous limitations, whatever those limitations might be. Or maybe, it is a figure that is fertile with possibilities and strength enduring. Or yet, it may be a figure that is free to develop whatever relationship it wants to the story that is an element of the same picture. The figure is a person, whom, like any person, is able to decide what his or her life should be like.

Social Entrepreneurs Learn How to Grow Their Business

In Author: Lisa Canning, Entrepreneurial Evolution, Entrepreneurial Tool Box on August 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm

This press release came across The Business Wire on July 31, 2009. This conference, held at Santa Clara University, seems like something artists should apply for next year. Good stuff happening at Santa Clara!

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society will soon kick off a two-week program as part of its Global Social Benefit Incubator, in which venture capitalists and technology executives trade ideas with social entrepreneurs from around the world.

These innovators and entrepreneurs will descend on Silicon Valley August 16-28 for an intensive, two-week residential “boot camp” intended to boost their socially conscious business ventures into the realm of sustainability.

The goal: Create a plan to assist nonprofits and social entrepreneurs to expand their work using Silicon Valley business models.

But what does a Silicon Valley venture capitalist like Jeff Miller from Redpoint Ventures or Brad Mattson, founder of Mattson Technology, have in common with a Guatemalan company helping slum dwellers raise worms for fertilizer?

More than you’d think, said longtime entrepreneur Bob Dench, the lead mentor for the program. “We share a common interest in overcoming obstacles and achieving goals, whether it’s a drip irrigation project in India or a software business in Silicon Valley,” he said.

“Even the most experienced Silicon Valley executives are not necessarily prepared for the unique challenges of being an entrepreneur in developing countries,” added Mattson. “These entrepreneurs usually have promising social businesses, but they need help finding a business model that is sustainable, scaling their business, and presenting a fundable business plan. That’s where we might help.”

Attendees hail from all over the globe, and typically serve their home country’s poorest residents, known as the “Base of the Pyramid.”

For example:

Byoearth of Guatemala, which helps slum dwellers get into the business of selling worm byproducts as fertilizer.
Husk Power Systems from India, an award-winning company that turns discarded rice husks into affordable power for millions.
Grass Roots Action for Social Participation of India, which utilizes “carbon credits” (fees from “polluting” companies in developed countries) to manufacture affordable, ecologically friendly wood stoves for the rural poor.
This is the seventh year of SCU’s program, which received more than 350 applications through — triple last year’s total.

Since the beginning of the year, the 16 selected entrepreneurs have also been getting coaching from afar from their Silicon Valley mentors. Now, they are coming to SCU’s campus for a two-week “boot camp” of back-to-back classes, lectures, business-plan honing, and cross-pollination with other entrepreneurs.

The program culminates in a business plan presentation August 27, which is open to the public by RSVP.

“Our class and our curriculum for GSBI 2009 really address the new realities of social entrepreneurship,” said Director Jim Koch, Bill and Jan Terry Professor of Management at SCU. “We have a course on how to manage distribution in countries lacking basic infrastructure, two speakers who fund social entrepreneurs describing investment criteria, and a significant new emphasis on issues related to operational excellence and execution.”

Members of this year’s class are focused in four general areas: livelihoods and economic development; the environment and affordable energy; health and education; and information and communications technology.

Businesses that have graduated from the GSBI program have gone on to collectively serve or benefit millions of people.

Alumni include the micro-lending website, African solar-radio maker Freeplay Foundation, and reading-glasses provider Vision Spring. GSBI leaders estimate that they have a 40 percent success rate among alumni.

About the Global Social Benefit Incubator GSBI™

The signature program of Santa Clara University’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society and cosponsored by the Leavey School of Business, GSBI was founded in 2003 by SCU Management Professors Jim Koch and Al Bruno, and entrepreneur Patrick Guerra. The trio saw a need to “incubate” promising businesses that were trying to address vital social needs of their home countries. The program now attracts hundreds of applicants from more than 25 countries every year.

GSBI™ is funded in part by grants from the Skoll Foundation, the Palo Alto-based supporter of global social entrepreneurs created by eBay’s founding president Jeff Skoll; 1999 RNN Foundation; and the Palo Alto-based Peery Foundation, a family foundation established to empower youth, reduce poverty and encourage social entrepreneurship in the Bay Area and around the world. For more information, see

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see