Friday, January 30, 2015

On Arts Entrepreneurship

"Arts entrepreneurship" is a term that, besides being a mouthful, is probably unfamiliar to most. It is a newer concept and a newer discipline. So new, in fact, that it was not part of my liberal arts-influenced Conservatory undergraduate education, which I finished not quite four years ago. Essentially, it concerns the contemporary dynamic of being and working as a professional artist of any trade.

I do not consider myself a "practicing" artist, I consider myself anchored much more on the managerial/administrative side of things, but I certainly have more than a few friends who are "practicing" artists, and some of the concepts within arts entrepreneurship apply to me anyway given the day and age and society in which I live.

But enough from me. The reason I bring it up at all here is because I came across two pieces on the subject in my reading, and thought it was time I prove that this young professional is paying attention!

The first piece is from the current issue of The Atlantic, and traces the history of the professional artist's relationship to society at large and then analyzes the current relationship. It is a lengthy piece with quite a bit of substance on some major themes.

And the second is from the blog of the director of the arts entrepreneurship program at Arizona State University, Linda Essig. She offers a summary of the responses of her students to the prompt: "What does it mean to you to be an arts entrepreneur?" These students are just a few years younger than I, yet their thinking is different from the conversations on "life as an artist" I remember having in my undergraduate senior seminar. The field is continually changing, as I am able to see in my work for the Wheaton College Artist Series, in which I interact with a lot of younger, emerging artists, and also my conversations with current students at Wheaton College.

In any case, it is a topic I think I may need to start reading more about, as it will become continually more and more relevant to me personally and professionally.

Update January 31:
I found out that Linda Essig wrote a brief response to the essay in The Atlantic. She highlights the importance of the audience in the arts world. She writes: Artists "need to think of the audience for the arts as partners in an ongoing two-way relationship in which art is not consumed, but appreciated."

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