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New course shows arts students how to become entrepreneurs

MADISON - Entrepreneurship programs at UW–Madison are supporting innovative thinking and actions.

The Wiscontrepreneur program promotes the creation of new businesses and socially beneficial organizations; the Student Venture Seed Grant Program backs up that encouragement with real money; programs at the Wisconsin School of Business rank among the best in the nation; and there’s even an Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community for students who want to live and breath entrepreneurship 24/7. These, and other initiatives, recently garnered the university recognition as one of the nation’s top 25 campuses for entrepreneurship.

But entrepreneurship has a place far beyond the business world. A new course, Art as Business as Art, is showing students in the arts the range of creative possibilities available to them and giving them the tools they need to advance their career goals.

Art as Business as Art grew out of the Arts Enterprise entrepreneurship initiative at UW–Madison, which included the Arts Enterprise Symposium held last January, the launch of a student organization devoted to nurturing enterprising arts students, a Web site and the New Arts Venture Challenge.

Stephanie Jutt, a faculty member in the School of Music, and Andrew Taylor, director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business, are co-teaching the course. Their collaboration is a tailor-made match of skills. Jutt is a celebrated musician who has infused her career with successful entrepreneurial energy. Taylor is a leading scholar on the business of the arts. Their goal is to help students learn how to make a living while making art.
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Jutt knows from experience the pitfalls that can derail the careers of aspiring artists: “There is much more to being an artist than being accomplished at your art. Students who want to make a life in the arts must learn how to run the business of their career. This is the class I wish they had taught when I was in school.”

“So often, artists and arts leaders consider business, career planning and community connections to be separate from their art-making, to be chores that must be endured,” says Taylor. “This course, instead, explores these efforts as entirely connected to the artistic intent, as part of the artist’s canvas.”

The class and collaboration is a dream come true for Jutt. “In every class I feel like I’m opening a big package on Christmas morning,” says Jutt. “Andrew Taylor is an expert in the business side of art. Artists on campus have never had access to his body of knowledge before. It’s this flip side of training that young artists need.”

Both Jutt and Taylor acknowledge the class is a bit of an experiment that explores the productive and creative interplay between artistic intent, business practice and community connections. They want the students to clarify their creative and career goals; connect these goals with community opportunities by developing business skills; and gain insight into the spectrum of creative opportunities that are possible.

In addition to guidance from Jutt and Taylor, the students learn about these possibilities from guest speakers who share their real-world experiences, both good and bad, in forging a creative career. A costume designer, a music producer, alumni working on Broadway and in film, an Internet marketer, a New York choreographer and others inspire the students each week to dream big about their post-graduation plans. Students in the class come from all creative fields. Instrumentalists, vocalists, visual artists, designers, actors, writers and even a conductor have enrolled.

The class is using a textbook that wouldn’t be found on the syllabus of a business course, but it’s hand-in-glove for this class. “The Creative Entrepreneur,” by Lisa Sonora Beam, uses visual journaling to guide creative people in setting and achieving their business goals. In addition to keeping journals, students will complete two team projects — a profile of a local creative enterprise and a proposal for their own new creative initiative.

“Using Lisa’s book and bringing her here to talk to the class makes it feel like they’re really connecting. This isn’t a generic class on training in an art career. They are getting to know themselves,” says Taylor.

Enrolled in the class is senior Charles Workinger, who is double majoring in music (trumpet performance) and business. He’s planning on applying for a graduate program in trumpet performance with a goal of earning an MBA in arts administration.

He’s also enthused by the class. “This has been so eye-opening, to see how broad the arts are as an industry and the range of skills represented. The spectrum of guest artists and the things they’ve done is incredible. They’re also inspirational. You can do anything if you set your mind to it, you just have to keep going,” says Workinger.

“We have all the resources on campus to guide artists toward their career goals,” says Jutt. “Ultimately, I’d like Arts Enterprise to become a clearinghouse for arts entrepreneurship around the state. We can replicate or tailor this class so it can be taught anywhere, even online, as part of the Wisconsin Idea of extending the resources of the campus to the state. I’d love to be part of that effort.”
Hear from the pros

Working artists and experts on arts enterprises are part of the classroom resources being used in the class Art as the Business as Art. The public is invited to hear two nationally known leaders who are shaping the future of arts and culture.

Bill Ivey, President Obama’s arts and humanities adviser and director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, will discuss “Greed, Neglect and Our Cultural Rights” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St.

Douglas McLennan, founder of ArtsJournal and director of the National Arts Journalism Program, will discuss “Arts Journalism 2.0: The Next Wave in Arts Conversations” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, at Promenade Hall, Overture Center, 201 State St.

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