Innovating Through Artistry

Posts Tagged ‘Artist as leader’

Art and The Public Purpose: A New Framework

In Art, Author: John Cimino, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS, Leadership on November 7, 2009 at 10:51 pm
Arts Leaders and Activists Converge on the Whitehouse

More than sixty activist artists, community artists, and creative organizers took part in a conversation with the White House.

The public dialogue on the arts and our national economic and cultural recovery is one in which all of us should and can have a voice.  Some of our most thoughtful cultural leaders have been bringing this public dialogue directly to the White House.  The exchanges there and elsewhere have fermented the drafting of new frameworks document for the arts in the context of what is being called “The Public Purpose”.   The document is authored first to last by a brave contingent of artists and cultural leaders committed to the arts and the potency of their survival their value to all of us in a democracy. 

Chief among these arts voices is Arlene Goldbard, author of The New Creative Community, and whose own blog site is richly steeped in this public dialogue.  For my money, she is one of our most gifted and incisive voices for the arts, creativity and community to be found anywhere.  I am, therefore, handing over the remainder of this blog entry to Arlene’s own eloquence. 
The three links will set the stage for your own exploration of these issues: (a) a perspective on cultural recovery Cultural Recovery, (b) a report on the White House Briefing, White House Briefing on Art, Community, Social Justice, National Recovery and (c) the New Framework document itself , Art & The Public Purpose: A New Framework.  
Do consider adding your name to those endorsing the New Framework and, by all means, forward it through your personal networks to get the word out.   Working together, we can make a difference!
John Cimino
Creative Leaps International

Entrepreneurship and Collaboration

In Author: Linda Essig, Creativity and Innovation on October 23, 2009 at 3:06 am

teamworkThe literature on entrepreneurship often references the one “big idea;” the singular innovative vision for something new, often the invention of one singular talent.  But, as we know, it takes a team of many to actualize that one big idea.  I’ve been preparing to teach a unit next week on collaboration and the ways in which group work supports the process of entrepreneurship, especially the kind of creative thinking that often underlies arts entrepreneurship.  In my posting a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Warren Bennis and  Patricia Ward Biederman’s book ORGANIZING GENIUS: THE SECRETS OF CREATIVE COLLABORATION (Basic Books, 1998).  To prepare for my class next week, I’m using a selection from that text, as well as disciplinarily specific one, COLLABORATION IN THEATRE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR DEISGNERS AND DIRECTORS by Rob Roznowski and Kirk Domer (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). [In the interest of full disclosure, I note that Domer worked with me when he was a grad student at UW-Madison and I was on the faculty there.]  In reading and synthesizing these, I developed a list of actions we all can undertake to be more effective collaborators and entrepreneurial team members:

  1. Communicate
  2. Know your team members
  3. Ask questions
  4. Do your research
  5. Look for the “next thing,” not the last thing
  6. Look for relationships
  7. Be “deep generalists” rather than “narrow specialists” (Bennis)
  8. Work together toward a collective purpose
  9. Articulate the group’s mission
  10. Be optimistic
  11. Embrace the idea that groups are temporary and project-focused
  12. Find commonalities
  13. Listen, then adapt
  14. Listen, then participate
  15. Reach consensus
  16. Respect your team members

Teamwork: a challenge of arts entrepreneurship

In Author: Linda Essig, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on October 2, 2009 at 1:10 am

As I work with student arts entrepreneurs, I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges they face is putting together meaningful, appropriate, and supportive project teams. Why is it harder for an arts entrepreneur to do this than a traditional business-focused entrepreneur? I think the answer lies in the entrepreneur’s motivation. The traditional entrepreneur is motivated (often, if not usually) by the bottom line desire to make money from their venture. The arts entrepreneur, especially the student arts entrepreneur, may very well be motivated by the desire to create opportunity for the production and dissemination of their art. As I implied last week, an artist may want to “hang on for dear life” to their work, making the inclusion of others appear to be a threat or a hindrance rather than a help.

As Walter Bennis points out in “Organizing Genius: The Secret of Creative Collaboration,” “one is too small a number to produce greatness” (p. 3). At the end of the book, Bennis offers some “Take-Home Lessons,” including “Greatness starts with great people” (p. 197). He goes on to define the need for great people to make up great groups. These are people who “have more than enormous talent and intelligence. They have original minds. They see things differently. They can spot the gaps in what we know….They see connections. Often they have specialized skills, combined with broad interests and multiple frames of reference. They tend to be deep generalists, not broad specialists. They are not so immersed in one discipline that they can’t see solutions on another…” (p. 198).

The attributes Bennis lists are important to the formation of an effective arts entrepreneurship team. To cite just one example, a conductor starting a new community orchestra (as one of our p.a.v.e. students did) needs to assemble a team that includes not only musicians, but musicians with knowledge of community cultural development and a marketing manager who not only understands marketing but also has a deep knowledge of music. Fledgling arts entrepreneurs will need to learn to be open to input from their teams, because teams are smarter than individuals (see Bennis and also “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki). They need not “hang on for dear life” to one singular idea, but rather open their arms wide to embrace both the broad interests and specific skills of those smart and talented individuals they want on their teams.

The next challenge, then, is to locate appropriate team members and recruit them effectively. More on that next time!

It is Time for Artist to = True Visionary, True Leader

In Author: Lisa Canning, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on September 30, 2009 at 4:38 am

Thanks to Shawn Bowers, my new social media associate here at ETA, we now have a wonderful press release for you to share with “your army” of believers– those individuals you know that believe in you and your ideas.

Your home made machete is here with your name on it. Are you ready?

Won’t you come and tackle opening hearts and minds with me? I sure need your help to.

This is the first of a series of press releases that Shawn will be writing to share information to others about ETA’s mission and its evolution and progress.

By the way, Shawn Bowers is a VERY talented young actor. He writes well too. I wonder what else Shawn can do?

Innovating Through Artistry can really change the world. Wasn’t “Vote for Change” what President Obama built and won his campaign on?

Conservative Fervor Fuels the ETA Flames as the Rallying Cry Goes Nationwide

Entrepreneur the Arts® founder Lisa Canning vocally responds to claims that the White House is pushing a propagandistic agenda through the National Endowment of the Arts.

A series of ultra-conservative articles critiquing the White House’s encouragement of the National Endowment of the Arts to pursue issues-based initiatives has sparked Entrepreneur the Arts® founder Lisa Canning and her fellow creators to speak out in support of artists with agendas.

Recently, the White House Office of Public Engagement, the Corporation for National and Community Service and the NEA hosted a conference call with a select group of arts leaders, many of whom were deeply involved in the 2008 presidential campaign. The transcript of the call stirred huge controversy based on the perception that the White House was asking artists to create propaganda in support of hot button issues such as health care, education or the environment.

In a post on her Entrepreneur the Arts Blog, noted artist and entrepreneur Lisa Canning refuted these criticisms with a simple yet powerful question: “What’s so wrong with having an agenda?”

“What’s wrong with the arts being vehicles for additional reflection on an issue, revealing deeper meaning to key messaging and shedding a bright light on agendas?” Canning asked. “That’s not ‘Partisan’ or ‘Socialism.’ That’s passion. Where is the open mindedness this country needs to utilize the power of the arts in new ways going to come from?”

Canning’s organization, Entrepreneur the Arts®, is leading a national movement to innovate through artistry. These efforts will culminate in the fall 2010 launch of the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™, a fully accredited training program for artists of all disciplines. The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™ will provide aspiring creatives the tools and methods to create sustainable businesses from their individual passions.

Entrepreneur the Arts® believes that the values inherent in great artistry, when wielded properly, are the perfect catalyst not just for individual success, but broad societal positive change.

“The power of artistry is more than playing a pretty piece or painting a pretty picture,” claims fellow ETA blogger David Cutler, author of the new book The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living, & Making a Difference. “When artists work to solve real problems, contribute meaningful experiences, and provide true leadership, these behaviors should be celebrated.”

Cutler, an Advisory Board Member to the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™, and many other artists, administrators and entrepreneurs, are joining ETA’s mission to make the starving artist a thing of the past and encourage you to do the same, no matter your politics.

“The agenda of innovation is a nonpartisan issue,” Canning said. “There are ways to do this. Business as Art, Government as Art, University as Art. But it all starts with sharing a vision– one that will help the world find a new way to perceive and utilize the strengths of your artistic gifts.”

The Entrepreneur the Arts Blog, updated daily with insights and inspiration from bloggers such as Canning and Cutler, can be found online at More information on the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship™ and ETA’s mission can be found at David Cutler’s book, The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living & Making a Difference, is available to order now at and in stores on November 1, 2009.


Lisa Canning, founder
Entrepreneur the Arts®

As Artists, Our Manifesto

In Emotional Intelligence, Entrepreneurial Tool Box, The Idea on September 15, 2008 at 5:13 am

Most of us in the arts recognize the discovery process we engage in daily, to create our works of art, that lead others to inspirational moments witnessing what we create.

But as artists we must come to understand that our role is one that has a much larger purpose which includes opening the minds of others, crossing boundries in thinking, and creating opportunities through the human bounding of artistic expression to unite people, places and ideas. We are bridge builders, idea sparkers, innovation creators who can serve as a catalyst for others to find their own source of inspiration, imagination and generation of ideas.

Our goal should always be to illuminate the hearts and minds of others first, to engage them in dialogue through the common unifer that our artistry can bring second, and yes, thirdly to find a way to profit from it consistently.

While the pursuit of art begins as a self filling journey, and one that leads us through a rigorous introspection of our needs, values and desires, we have an obligation to turn our inner workings inside out by using who we are to serve as leaders, innovators, communication builders and transformational connectors for all segments of humanity and to introduce the lightening rod of artistry for learning.

This is what comes with our gift of artistry.

It is our obligation to learn how to most purposefully learn to use it, to not only serve at the center of learning for others or to provide the cultural connections we as human beings need, but importantly to serve as a catalyst for economic development and creation that will allow for our important skills to be placed as the center of what the world values.

The reason we must do this is simply because the individual experience of art is that important to the creation of future leaders of the world, and, future leaders are the economic engines and change agents who’s ideas are utilized around every subject matter, including the arts, to stimulate economic development and global change.

We have an obligation to each discover our role to be at the center of the evolution of a world we each can impact. Where can you begin?