Thursday, May 29, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 5

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on…………."

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 5:  If you would like to comment, please go to the site and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.

Today's Question:
What is the role of collaboration in entrepreneurship ?   What is the relationship of innovation to entrepreneurship?   Of risk taking? Is there a male dominated (or other) bias in entrepreneurship?  Do women and other demographic groups find entrepreneurship more difficult because of that bias?

Russell Willis Taylor:  Chris Mackie, who is a terrific thinker on important issues in our field, told me once that “Collaboration is to the nonprofit field what competition is to the for profit world – it makes it more efficient.”  I repeat this wisdom often and think that collaboration is an important way to garner more resources to create impact, and therefore an essential skill set for entrepreneurs in arts and culture.  There is a broad spectrum of collaborative effort, from short term partnering to full merger, and we should encourage it whenever and wherever we can.

If we accept that entrepreneurs will create new value then innovation is built into what they do.  At NAS we teach ways to implement innovative ideas, to operate within constraints rather than “thinking outside the box” which can be fun and then frustrating when you can’t actually do anything with the bright ideas. 3   Encouraging innovative practice means funding both high risk and episodic failure.

I don’t really have any observations to make on the gender bias question, as the thousands of leaders we work with are fiercely innovative and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are women or men.  I do think that funding people who are going to take risks means moving beyond the usual suspects, and that we as a field could do more to encourage newcomers and people with disruptive ideas.  After all, they are most likely entrepreneurs.

Linda Essig:
Collaboration enhances creativity. There is a body of research in entrepreneurship, creativity studies, and organizational behavior that indicates that heterogeneous groups are more creative than individuals or than homogeneous groups. Creativity is at the root of arts entrepreneurship – the generation of novel ideas and creative work is the first step in the entrepreneurial process.

Innovation is a prerequisite to successful entrepreneurship in the arts.  If Jane Doe opens a dry cleaning shop down the street, she could be considered a business entrepreneur because she starts a business, but the arts are predicated on originality and uniqueness so to be an arts entrepreneur requires both an original creative idea and the ability to innovate – to actualize that idea in a way that has impact.  So innovation is the middle step in the entrepreneurial process:  create  innovate  actuate entrepreneurially.

I tell my students that although entrepreneurial activity involves some risk, entrepreneurs are actually risk minimizers. Entrepreneurship involves recognizing opportunities not for being high risk but for being low risk relative to other possible opportunities, and then having the gumption to undertake the risk that does exist.

Although I think a lot about bias in other areas I study (eg nonprofit boards), I hadn’t consciously considered bias relative to entrepreneurship specifically until you asked this question.  The biases that exist in all areas of the arts no doubt affect arts entrepreneurship – eg., the marginalization of minority voices, a glass ceiling for women, and so on. There is research in the field of entrepreneurship generally that indicates a significant bias toward men in attracting venture capital. Not totally surprising given that the majority if venture capitalists are themselves men.  A 2007 study by Langowitz and Minnitti found that women tend to perceive themselves and the entrepreneurial environment as less favorable than do men.   There’s less capital available to women entrepreneurs and they perceive the environment as less favorable than men do.  Are these conditions a result of bias? As a social scientist, I would say, “bias may contribute to this problem, but correlation does not imply causality” as a woman navigating the world, I say, “yes, there’s bias.”

Anthony Radich:  There is a role for collaboration in the area of arts entrepreneurship. At WESTAF, we work with a staff scattered across the country and around the globe to manage our successful technology programs. The collaboration among staff and the onshore and offshore development teams has required substantial effort to construct but has paid huge dividends. The business-entrepreneurial benefits of these project simply could not exist without a very high level of collaboration.

So collaboration works for us internally; however, I find interorganizational collaborations among arts organizations to be far more challenging. One reason is that, in many cases, likely partners are neither knowledgeable in business entrepreneurial methods nor have an entrepreneurial spirit that can help them link to partners that have such a spirit. In our work, we have found most nonprofit arts organizations to not be ready to partner in most business-related projects.

Another challenge is the “we only need one of them” thinking that exists related to competing services in the nonprofit marketplace. I find that well-meaning foundation executives, corporate leaders, and nonprofit leaders often seek to impose efficiency on a field and snuff out a marketplace for services and programs because they consider support for competing services to be wasteful.  The result is the saddling of the nonprofit arts with mandated “one-only” technologies and services that are expensive and not up to date.

Several years ago, a representative from a major east coast foundation met with me and urged (actually attempted to coerce) WESTAF to throw part of its technology efforts into a single national-level foundation-funded technology initiative.  We didn’t accept his invitation and currently have several thriving technology programs.  Meanwhile, the effort he invited us into is not exactly flourishing--actually it looks pretty dead!

Ruby Lerner:  Collaboration is obligatory—nothing is going to happen in a new undertaking of any kind if you aren’t partnering with others.

We think that risk-taking is part of the definition of entrepreneurship (see Wikipedia!).

While it may be true in the business world, within the cultural arena, I don’t feel a male-dominance. We have so many strong women leaders and organizations / initiatives that were founded by women. Within more traditional institutions, like museums or orchestras, there does seem to be an imbalance in gender parity and demographic diversity, but in the artist-driven sector, gender is less of an issue. However, cultural diversity IS still an issue across the board.

Adam Huttler:  Entrepreneurship can and often does involve collaboration. However, in practice entrepreneurship frequently requires a willingness to burn bridges and breach established protocols. There’s a reason Joseph Schumpeter, the great economist who studied entrepreneurship and innovation, talked about “creative destruction.” Successful entrepreneurs and disruptive innovators almost always trample someone else’s daisies, which means it’s often necessary to go it alone.

Innovation is closely related to entrepreneurship, and the two frequently go hand-in-hand, however they’re not synonymous. The simplest way to distinguish them is to say that innovation is the creation of new opportunities while entrepreneurship is the exploitation of those opportunities.

There is definitely systemic inequality in entrepreneurship. I couldn’t be an entrepreneur if I didn’t believe that I have a right to imprint myself on society. This belief depends on first feeling as though I truly belong in this society, along with a pretty powerful sense of entitlement. Needless to say, this psychology is more common among historically dominant demographic groups. (White male privilege anyone?)

Even more troublesome is the role that networks play in entrepreneurship. It’s almost impossible to create something new and substantial without tapping repeatedly into a network of mentors, advisors, and other resources. To the extent that professional networks correlate to demographics, they work (unconsciously and unintentionally, and therefore insidiously) to maintain the socioeconomic status quo with respect to race, ethnicity, and gender.

Richard Evans:  Economist Robert Reich has called team-building, leadership and management ability essential qualities for the entrepreneur.  The successful companies of the future, he has suggested, will be those that offer a new model for working relationships based on collaboration and mutual value.  Whatever we think of Reich’s view of art museums, I’d agree with the shift in traditional thinking about entrepreneurship that he proposes.  He emphasizes the links between entrepreneurship, team-work, collaboration and mutual value that I explored earlier.  This group of qualities relates closely to the tenets of adaptive leadership, and how I believe they inform not only the new approach of the single entrepreneur, but the move to recognizing entrepreneurship as an aspect of organizational innovation, which I described as a new discipline entering the arts field.

In my first piece, I suggested that most not-for-profit arts organizations could qualify as entrepreneurial in the traditional sense, in that they offer their performances and exhibits with a clear enough sense of the associated costs, but with little certainty of them being fully covered by related sources of income.  They take on and deal with risk, in the classic entrepreneurial fashion.  But nowadays that’s not enough of a description of contemporary entrepreneurship.  In complex contexts, when systems are in flux, and the old rules may no longer apply, entrepreneurial behavior demands more – a capacity to manage risk, but also a deep tolerance for uncertainty.  Risk, after all, can be calibrated from past experience; uncertainty around innovation, which relates to the future impact of new ventures, cannot.  And in the current environment of rapid change, disruptive innovation, and shifts in cultural participation, uncertainty rules.  Entrepreneurial teams address this uncertainty by using short-term feedback loops, rapid and re-iterated prototyping, and an advanced ability to continually question assumptions.

Such teams are also good at moving beyond the first shiny solution that is presented in their innovation work.  When time appears short and concepts have been swirling for a while, it’s always tempting to grab hold, in a prehensile way, of one of the first bright ideas that is put forward as a new solution, especially if it comes from an established leader or a complete novice.  In our experience, that almost always leads to a compromise result, something mildly adaptive but by no means a breakthrough.  More time needs to be spent considering and discarding ideas, until layers are peeled back and genuinely radical approaches can begin to emerge.  The poet Rilke’s two rules for writing poetry are profound advice that applies to these team journeys, I think.  “When you’re writing a poem,” Rilke suggested, “after three stanzas you’ll have written everything you know you have it in you to write.  The first rule is: Don’t stop, for then you will write what you didn’t know you had it in you to write.  And the second rule is: When you get to the end, throw away the first three stanzas.”

This waiting, reflection and preparedness to let go of your favorite idea is not everyone’s concept of a productive process.  Indeed, in terms of traditional male attributes, it can be a real strain to postpone arrival at the solution in this way (male leaders are known to have a strong preference for the Shaper team-role I introduced earlier).  This aspect of contemporary entrepreneurship in teams might be said, therefore, to offer an opening to better appreciation of less macho attitudes.

These dynamics are likely to lead to considerable conflict in an entrepreneurial team, even one that views collaboration as a core value.  We’ve found in our Innovation Labs that productively managing sustained conflict within the team is at the core of adaptive work.  As the adaptive potential of the work increases, and things get real, agreement diminishes quickly, and a lot of heat enters the room as multiple perspectives on the past and the vision for the future are voiced, and conflicting views on how to proceed are urged. This group energy is vital and potentially transformative — ideally, it is managed so as to lead on to a breakthrough approach of high adaptive potential, in favor of which there is sufficient agreement (not unanimity) for prototyping to be sanctioned.

In my experience, however, most trajectories with this promise become derailed by the heat of conflict, as individuals run for the exits.  For arts organizations, managing this trajectory over, say, twelve months is itself an extremely complex affair, as our programs have taught us (the friction tends to reach a critical level after about four months).  Incentivized by governance and funding environments to suppress conflict around assumptions, vision, definitions of success, and organizational strategy, few organizations in the arts field have become adroit at productively sustaining this kind of tension, let alone using it as the key lever for transformative results.

If we can learn this kind of collaboration, if we can build resilient teams with the capability of pushing through the pain barrier to breakthrough results, then the prospect for arts entrepreneurship to earn a new and higher value in organizational life is considerable, and the next ten years should prove immensely instructive.

Andrew Taylor:  As we've all established in our definitional posts, entrepreneurship involves taking action through a collage of resources. Some of those resources are financial. But significant resources also come from the energy, passion, attention, advocacy, connections, and effort of other people. "Collaboration" -- which Michael Schrage aptly defines as "the process of shared creation" -- is one way to connect these resources with the enterprise. Other ways that live lower on the entanglement/engagement spectrum include communication, coordination, and cooperation.

The "innovation" in entrepreneurship, like almost everything else related to the term, comes from action and application. Innovation is more than a great idea or invention, it is the application of that idea or invention to bring real value to real people.

As for bias, there is no inherent bias in the bundle of qualities and actions we call entrepreneurship. But there is certainly bias in the people, groups, and systems that claim the term. Silicon Valley is notoriously biased against women -- as founders, as executives, and as corporate board members. Organized philanthropy has shown a bias in its aggregate giving and its policies of selection and support. Creative industries -- from film to visual to performing arts -- show bias in their selection of artists, executives, and boards, as well. So, it would be no surprise to find many layers of bias embedded in the people and systems that support arts entrepreneurship.

Our opportunity as we focus more energy on arts entrepreneurship is to do so with the same rigor, innovation, feedback, testing, and iteration we expect of our entrepreneurs.

Barry:  Entrepreneurship in the Arts, and all of the sub-issues attendant thereto, will undoubtedly continue to be discussed and debated - particularly as the concept relates to innovation, adaptation, business management, risk taking, survivability and how we, as a field, approach the challenges we face.  I appreciate the thoughts of the panel as a beginning to that ongoing discussion.

Thank you very much to all the panel participants.

Don't Quit

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 4

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on…………."

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 4:  If you would like to comment, please go to the site and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.

Today's Question:
What is the present status of arts entrepreneurship research, and where do we go from here?

Anthony Radich:   Arts entrepreneurship research could benefit the field more by:

Doing a better job of distinguishing between business entrepreneurism and social entrepreneurism.

Arts-entrepreneurship research could tell more stories about successful arts entrepreneurship that is rooted in the arts.  Such research could strive to use examples from both the past as well as the present.

There could be a more thoughtful examination of the relationship between cultural policy and arts entrepreneurship. What in fact are cultural policymakers doing to encourage and then reward business entrepreneurism in the arts?

Perhaps the question that intrigues me the most that I see very little being written about is the issue of equity and diversity within arts-business entrepreneurship. As arts entrepreneurship is presented in the field today, I see almost no discussion of the ways in which the movement will express these values, even though such values have been central to the work of many in the nonprofit arts.

Linda Essig:  I gave a talk recently on this very topic at UW-Madison. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I adapt those comments here:

Research on arts entrepreneurship and arts AS business and arts AND business happens in several domains. I’ll discuss four of those domains, but it is not an all-inclusive list. First is the realm of economics in which folks like Michael Rushton are theorizing on the price mechanism in the arts and Roland Kushner is tracking the longevity of start-up arts organizations. I would like to see more economics-oriented research in the for-profit arts sector, but that data is harder to come by and funding for primary data collection is scarce.

Community resources and development (or community economic development) is another area of research that looks at arts-based businesses and on the effects of arts-based businesses on community development.  We can also understand this domain to be at the intersection of arts entrepreneurship and public policy. Spurred by the NEA “Our Town” program and its partner ArtPlace initiative, there is a lot of interest on the ways in which arts and culture businesses can enhance what is called “community vibrancy.”  Rhonda Phillips and my ASU colleague Gordon Shockley work in this area, primarily from a theoretical perspective, and often drawing examples from Europe and the Commonwealth countries where the concept of “creative industries” is more fully developed.  Working at the intersection of art, economics, and policy, research on arts enterprise and community development also includes the work of Ann Markusen, consultant Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, and others. My own research on arts venture incubators could perhaps be considered under this umbrella as well.

Related to both the economics and community development domains is the nonprofit studies realm.  Stephen Preece researches nonprofit arts venture creation.  Mark Hager, another ASU colleague, also works in this area, often on the relationship between nonprofit arts organizations and tourism. Andrew Taylor is following the money – specifically capital – in nonprofit arts organizations.

Finally, there is research about arts entrepreneurship in higher ed, both the content and the pedagogy of arts entrepreneurship. My own work in this area involves developing a framework for teaching students to develop those entrepreneurial habits of mind that support both creative and financial success using three different pedagogies of collaborative projects, mentorship, and experiential learning.   As mentioned in an earlier post in this series, a recent article in Artivate from Australia advances the field, extends the “habits of mind concept” to develop teachable means for developing an “arts entrepreneurial mindset” including  “Creative, Strategic, Analytical and Reflective Thinking,”  “Confidence” (or what I would call self-efficacy), “Collaborative Abilities, “Communication Skills,” and “Understanding of Artistic Context.”  I would like to see more research on how to teach to the other end of the arts entrepreneurship spectrum – new venture creation -- and I will be presenting later this year with my Drexel colleague Neville Vakharia on arts venture incubation as a tool for such pedagogy.

For arts entrepreneurship to develop as a field or a discipline, it needs to articulate the unique knowledges, theories, and methodologies that define it as a field.  Doing so requires research and knowledge-building of that field – not about its place in universities and teaching institutions – but knowledge building and research of arts entrepreneurship practice that then feeds back into the university classrooms and studios where arts entrepreneurship is taught.

Adam Huttler:   I fear I am woefully unqualified to answer this one. I have never claimed to be an academic, and I’m simply not up to speed on whatever research has been published on the topic of arts entrepreneurship. The thoughts I’ve shared in this blogathon have been based on a mix of personal experience and intuition.

Having said that, I’m inclined to be skeptical of research on this topic that purports to be objective or seriously data driven. Entrepreneurship is an art as much as a science, and every entrepreneur’s story is unique. What I do find immensely valuable are case studies. I’ve drawn much inspiration over the course of my career from business narratives, and I’ve learned important lessons by studying everyone from Peggy Guggenheim to Jeff Bezos. More often than not, I actually prefer reading about entrepreneurs from radically different industries than my own, since they allow me to detach from industry minutia and focus on abstract concepts. As such, I would welcome more ethnographies of entrepreneurial ventures both inside and outside the arts.

Richard Evans:  At present, the term “arts entrepreneurship” is largely confined to academia and to a few professional journals.  As I travel around the country for EmcArts, meeting thousands of practitioners and funders and engaging around this critical juncture for the not-for-profit sector, it’s not a term I hear used widely.  The research that exists – and it’s in its early stages – tends to circulate among aficionados, or informs an occasional conference session (usually, for “emerging leaders”).  The first conference assembled by the Arts Entrepreneurship Educator’s Network takes place next month.  (By contrast, research into “social innovation” and the “social entrepreneur” has in the last decade become a considerable industry.)

Why is arts entrepreneurship neglected?  Apart from its relative novelty, the reasons, I think, start with the uncertainty of definition discussed earlier – Is it about how to set up your own creative business?  Is it about understanding arts administration?  A specialty in business models?  Career advice for the independent artist?  Developing a distinctive and useful definition will mean acknowledging the shifting sands on which any such definition should be built, notably the move across the social sector from relying on the “heroic leader” as problem-solver to recognizing that the complexity of contemporary challenges in which the arts are involved demands a “servant leader” approach, empowerment of distributed leadership, and entrepreneurship as a team asset and an organizational discipline.  A definition based on recognition of these shifts could lead to some powerful research for the future of the field.

Entrepreneurial behaviors also do not lend themselves to basic quantitative analysis, nor do they respond well to attempts at “proving” intended outcomes.  Naturally divergent from past practice, and not necessarily quick to produce quantifiable returns, such ventures confuse traditional metrics – or simply fail to match up.  Add to this that research into the social impact of the arts is also in its infancy, and, in a measurement-obsessed world that values what it measures, it’s not surprising that entrepreneurship is side-lined, seen as anomalous to the main action (though anecdotally admired).
The arts world has been slow to pick up on the implications of complexity science, even of systems analysis, as filters through which the measurement of change and progress can – must be – quite differently calibrated.  Developmental evaluation, that embeds the evaluator in the project team as a means of documenting and tracking the kinds of “learning journeys” I referred to earlier (rather than preserving traditional independence), has yet to be whole-heartedly embraced.

What does get traction in the wider arts field is research into audience trends and cultural participation, into capitalization, and into the lives of artists.  The assumed benefits of more fully collecting and analyzing longitudinal historical data on arts organizations also continue to attract attention.  These emphases imply not only a pervasive pragmatism linked to traditional advocacy, but also I think a continued reliance on centralizing principles, on pulling it all together to see possible patterns across organizations, agencies and individuals, independent of their embeddedness in local systems.  But cross-sector analysis of local dynamics, rather than cross-system comparison, is nowadays more likely to reveal salient trends, and must certainly inform future strategy at that level.

The siren-call, or glittering surface, of Big Data may also be a factor here.  Massive aggregation and ramped-up analysis are clearly of great value in mass consumerism, in corporate targeting, and in understanding historical trends in relation to local variances.  Its promise, in the arts as elsewhere, is widely touted.  But I don’t see Big Data as relating strongly to developing arts entrepreneurship.
In our programs at EmcArts, we used to compile financial and organizational data for Innovation Teams to consider as they began their work, but we discontinued this practice, as we found it closed down, rather than opened up, the space for divergent and “illogical” thinking.  Better to use random word association than five-year ratio analysis.  This doesn’t mean longitudinal historical data is without value to entrepreneurship and innovation.  But I find myself more interested in whether we can develop the ability to compile data that might use recent organizational behaviors and impacts to help in predicting likely changes in organizational performance, if current strategies were to be maintained in the future.  I imagine some use of traditional numerical data, but also attitudinal data, capacity assessment and systems analysis being combined to create a suite of predictive tools.

The approach in the arts to data analysis has never been particularly scientific (testing hypotheses to see if they are, in fact, predictive).  But, in these times, if we could assemble “early-warning” tools to assist organizations, including many that may have been doing well until now or very recently, to see trouble ahead, then we could so much more easily alert arts leaders to the need for adaptive change, for a renewed entrepreneurship in the organization, before the obvious indicators all turn red, the precipice looms, and a healthy future becomes so very much harder to achieve.  Now that research would be interesting.

Andrew Taylor:  Research in arts entrepreneurship is showing growth and great promise, with at least one new journal dedicated to the topic, and many faculty and scholars diving into the void. There's massive opportunity to connect and translate existing research on entrepreneurship in other fields (for-profit venture, social venture, global venture). From here, we keep going. And we keep making efforts to connect scholarship and practice in powerful ways.

Russell Willis Taylor:  Others in this blogathon will have more informed views about the research available on the topic.  I would only add that some centralized source of research summaries that helps leaders use the research already out there would be helpful to entrepreneurs.  Steven Tepper and Alan Brown are both field leaders who have made great strides in helping to organize and disseminate that research, and we need more organizing of this area to make it easily accessible and meaningful to practitioners.

Ruby Lerner:  We’re not engaged in arts entrepreneurship research, so I can’t comment on this.

Thank you panel.

Don't Quit

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 3

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on……………."

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 3:  If you would like to comment, please go to the site and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.

Today's Question: 
What are the major challenges to, and opportunities for, advancing Entrepreneurship in the arts?  What are the differences for artists v. Arts administrators?  How do we foster and promote organizational entrepreneurship?

Andrew Taylor:   Paul DiMaggio once characterized American cultural policy as favoring stability,  ''encouraging small organizations to become larger and large organizations to seek immortality.'' Over the past fifty years, that strategy has fostered extraordinary growth in cultural activity and opportunity across the United States (and around the world). But it has also institutionalized a set of biases.

Most of the systems we've constructed to feed that system also favor stability and growth. Funders prefer nonprofits with multiple years of activity before they'll consider a significant grant. The 501c3 status requirement of most nonprofit granting agencies -- public and private -- also suggests that only established entities are allowed to play. Educational efforts for managers and artists tend to prepare students to work in established organizations and artistic disciplines.

That stability bias leaves the new, the innovative, the temporary, the impulsive, the cross-boundary, the small endeavor in the arts at a disadvantage -- not only for independent artists and small organizations, but for the "intrapreneurship" and innovation within established organizations.

If major funders want to encourage entrepreneurship in all its forms, they'll need to unbundle their bias in giving and measuring what they give. They'll need to allow more hybrid, for-profit, or fiscally sponsored initiatives. They'll need to let go of reliable impact as an outcome goal, and embrace a portfolio approach to their giving and impact strategies.

And we'll all have to let go of our own bias surrounding 'big' and 'permanent' as requirements for greatness in the arts. Artists and audiences are already doing this, despite our current policies and practices. So, if we can't learn our way out of it, we'll grow our way out as a next generation takes our jobs and forgets our ways.

Linda Essig:  One challenge is that many artists see the very word “entrepreneurship” or the very concept of the art market as antithetical to artmaking.  Albert Camus, in his 1957 speech at Uppsala University said, “Art for art’s sake, the entertainment of a solitary artist, is indeed the artificial art of a factitious and self-absorbed society. The logical result of such a theory is the art of little cliques or the purely formal art fed on affectations and abstractions and ending in the destruction of all reality. In this way a few works charm a few individuals while many coarse inventions ·corrupt many others. Finally art takes shape outside of society and cuts itself off from its living roots.”  I see arts entrepreneurship as a way of connecting art and society.  Some artists, as noted in an earlier post, see it as a neoliberal attack on the arts. We live in the economic world we live in, and if artists can understand entrepreneurship as a means to feed their artistic practice, then they can use the capital system to subvert the capital system, if that is their goal.

There is a distinct difference between arts entrepreneurships and arts “management,” in that entrepreneurship means innovating new ideas while management can be understood to mean maintaining a status quo. But, there isn’t really a fixed status quo, because the technological, economic, social, and aesthetic environment for the arts is constantly changing, and changing rapidly. Arts administrators can (and should) be proactive in the way their organizations respond to the constantly changing environment and, more than just responding to change, can make that change themselves to move the arts forward.
Another challenge, and one we need to be very cautious to avoid, is factionalism within the field of arts entrepreneurship itself.  Entrepreneurship and management are converging for the reasons just mentioned, they cannot be viewed as dichotomous; individual entrepreneurship and new venture creation should likewise not be viewed as opposites; the study of entrepreneurship within arts disciplines should not be viewed as contrary to the study of arts entrepreneurship across disciplines; entrepreneurship in the for-profit sector should not be viewed as a completely separate discipline from entrepreneurship in the nonprofit sector; and finally – and most importantly – those who teach, study, and practice arts entrepreneurship in universities should not separate themselves from those who teach, study, and practice arts entrepreneurship in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.  It’s a big tent – there’s room for everybody.

To promote or foster organizational entrepreneurship (and by this I assume you mean entrepreneurial action in and by organizations or “intrapreneurship”), organizations need to be open to voices from all levels of the organization and recognize opportunity wherever (or from whomever) it might arise. 

Ruby Lerner:  We believe that artists are de-facto entrepreneurs, so we don’t see a difference between them and other entrepreneurs. But what we find in the arts is that there’s not a lot of infrastructure or coordinated efforts to help sustain them. Venture capitalists will engage with a business for up to seven years. This rarely happens in our field, but it’s the model Creative Capital has adopted. We support artists systematically and make a long-term investment to help them build sustainable careers. And we earmark a small pool of the funding we provide for “special opportunities,” so that our artists can take advantage of opportunities as they come up.

On the organizational front, it’s harder for organizations to take risks because they tend to have greater overhead costs and somewhat less flexibility. It’s one of the reasons that I think organizations need special pools of money dedicated to seizing opportunities, just like the “special opportunities” funds we set aside for our awardees. In a way, it’s like building in “risk capital” so that the org can take risks and explore new ideas while knowing that the organization is still secure.

Richard Evans:  I see a number of challenges to advancing a contemporary form of entrepreneurship in the arts.  But also that this is a time of opportunity for entrepreneurial approaches.  Embracing these opportunities means shifting from a focus only on individuals as sole entrepreneurs, to better recognizing adaptive organizations as an engine of entrepreneurship.

As a professional sector, the arts tends to maintain an insistent focus on heroic leaders, when today’s wicked problems demand adaptive techniques that no single individual, no matter how brilliant, can utilize alone.  From an era that prized heroic individualism and organizational differentiation, I think we must bring urgency in moving toward shared solutions and waves of collective action.

This move is inhibited by a widespread confusion between organizational innovation and creativity.  Creativity is a quality of individuals (some people are naturally talented at coming up with original ideas).  Creative thinkers are vital to innovation (and we have plenty of them), but they aren’t sufficient.  To innovate means to develop creative ideas into feasible strategies that organizations can actually implement.  This is a group activity, requiring people to work together in new ways toward breakthrough strategies.  So innovation seems to me a definable organizational discipline, a set of skills, processes, and tools that every organization can learn.  When the Kellogg Foundation recently studied organizational innovation in the not-for-profit sector, the authors concluded that “every nonprofit should make innovation part of its core competencies.”  They called the report Intentional Innovation.

When we think about entrepreneurship in the arts, we tend to focus on the launch of new programs and products, rather than on the process of discovery, design and prototyping.  The overemphasis on product over process drives other misunderstandings.  Funders urge organizations to add a new program, reinforcing an unsustainable mentality of continued expansion and diffusion of energy when a stronger focus on building resilience is what is really needed.

If entrepreneurship and innovation are tethered to organizational growth, and if growth remains the primary measure of organizational success, then entrepreneurship in organizational settings is condemned to be a destabilizing force in the worst sense of the word.  Rather, the disruptiveness that can attend innovation should be directed to making hard choices — choices about what we now leave behind (as no longer useful to us), as much as about how we reconfigure our existing work.  Letting go is at the core of innovation.

My rule of thumb – that organizations should work toward devoting 20% of their annual resources to the various stages of innovation – requires that we regularly and aggressively make space for new ventures by stopping doing things that aren’t achieving our desired impacts, or that absorb energies better released for re-imagining.  Becoming more provisional as an organization is, in my experience, a sophisticated capacity.

A related obstacle to entrepreneurial approaches gaining due weight in the field is the lack of innovation capital available to organizations – resources held on the balance sheet for strategic investment in new ventures if and when prototyping suggests an opportunity to scale up and mainstream the initiative.  Few cultural organizations have in the past been able to build capital funds of this type on their own.  The norms of capitalization in the field, with an overwhelming emphasis on illiquid assets such as endowments and buildings, and a value system grounded in an unfulfilled search for permanence and stability, have militated against strengthening this aspect of the financial profile.
Lacking these funds, most innovations are condemned to remain what I call “dworphan”: both dwarfish in scale and orphaned from the organizational mainstream, relegated to the margins rather than intentionally growing to become part of core operations (that new music series of two small concerts; the single improv session in a local bar).  This is one reason entrepreneurship is blunted, and adaptive change in the field is so slow.  A policy realignment is badly needed, supporting new values of organizational flexibility and adaptability.

Yet there are also big opportunities for entrepreneurship in the arts these days.  Complexity is a particularly good environment for the entrepreneurial.  When, as artists and organizational leaders, we try to address complex challenges (the familiar example is parenting), cause and effect circle each other, they are no longer in any kind of linear relationship — yesterday’s solution doesn’t work today, and often we’re not sure what the problem even is ….  In contexts where unpredictability rules, established systems are in flux, and new patterns are struggling to form, the most useful response is to create the conditions for next practices to emerge.  This means probing, questioning, and experimenting to find the way forward.  As David Snowden of Cognitive Edge has written: “Because you cannot analyze the problem space fully in advance, you have to be prepared to adjust systems interactively until you find what works.”  This is work that an entrepreneurial team can excel at.  Where teams with little entrepreneurial capacity (all Implementers and Completer-Finishers) will worry about perfecting five-year plans and logic models, the entrepreneurial team will understand the need for a “good-enough vision,” and get on with some radical experiments to test possibilities, learn hard from them, rinse and repeat.  This is the kind of team for funders to put their money on.

But that will only happen if we collectively re-imagine our use of the word “failure,” an even more toxic word in the arts than “merger”…..  Of course, if we reflect on our experience as artists, we know that failure is endemic to the creative process, that trying stuff out in a spirit of serious play, and not getting it right, is the only way we learn how to do things that have never been done before.  Yet this important understanding of productive failure has not translated to our organizations and funders.  We need boards, staff and investors to support “learning journeys” and to demand that we ask difficult, probing questions at every stage, with candor and determination to change our approach, potentially, at every turn.  In this way (and many others), our organizations have to become more, not less, like artists.
This is very important, because organizational innovation is the means by which organizations undertake essential adaptive work, and can bring artists as entrepreneurs into the work as never before.  Innovation is a newly emerging, organization-wide discipline, the most far-reaching new set of capacities arts organizations can learn, and, I believe, the most powerful new discipline to enter our field since the advent of strategic planning in the 1970s.

To overcome obstacles and advance arts entrepreneurship, I think we need to ask: What would it mean for us to encourage and support innovation across our organizational processes?  How might we bring innovative approaches to our strategic thinking?  What criteria do we apply in deciding to stop doing something in our organization?  Do we have an organized process for doing this?  What structures can we put in place to ensure it happens regularly?

Anthony Radich:  One significant obstacle to launching and advancing entrepreneurship in the arts is the continuing profound denial on the part of many arts administrators that much of the audience for certain art forms has moved on. Often, entrepreneurial efforts get a bad name because they are launched to “save” what cannot be saved. Applying good resources and staff to such lost causes rather than applying them elsewhere is a huge waste. Business entrepreneurs seek optimal circumstances in which to create success. They do not usually seek out sick entities to revive.

Another challenge is that the arts field is frequently a poor market into which to launch products incubated by arts entrepreneurs. Because the nonprofit arts world has been largely shielded from the marketplace, it has been slow to engage with entrepreneurially developed innovative arts-service products. Many traditional arts administrators are either threatened by them or naively believe that they can produce the same product and similarly benefit financially from it, even though these organizations seldom have the assets in place that would allow them to launch such efforts. 

Adam Huttler:  As I explained on day 1 (note: if you are on the site, scroll down to the Day 1 entry for Adam's previous post.  If you are reading in your email box, click on the Day 1 email)  I’m seeing a lot more activity in this space by artists than by organizations. Artists are nimbler by nature, and they don’t need organizations as much as they once did to reach an audience.

The first step to fostering organizational entrepreneurship may be to teach arts administrators to understand the business they’re in and the value they add. Arts administrators must recognize that organizations have no fundamental right to exist, and are only useful and justified to the extent that they assist in the creation or distribution of the work of artists. Armed with that sobering perspective, an arts administrator can take a clear-eyed look at the challenges faced by artists and audiences and figure out how to provide real value to one or both of those customer groups. An organization that does that successfully will have no trouble building a sustainable business as well.

Russell Willis Taylor:  The major challenges to fostering a greater number of entrepreneurs are capital and genuine feedback loops.  With regard to capital, a subject that GIA has recently re-animated with some important national discussions, unplanned growth for a poorly capitalized organization can kill it, and the natural optimistic opportunism of leaders in our field can lead to acute over-extension, thereby weakening organizations and burning out leaders.  Capital isn’t just money, it’s also human capital and we need to nurture and develop that talent, not exhaust it.  I think we need more capital that funds the ideas and strategies of the leaders rather than using organizations to fund the strategies of the donor or funder if we want to encourage entrepreneurs.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have meaningful metrics for performance – they are essential and in my experience entrepreneurs demand them to improve their own performance. 

Feedback loops are an important part of any field that takes risks – we need them to strengthen the individual and collective efforts.  Feedback loops tell us what is working and what isn’t working so that we can eliminate or redesign failed efforts.  Our field would benefit from more candid and public feedback loops – is there any other field that only has success stories?  We need failures to evolve and improve, and we need to know about the failures of others to benefit from them.

Thank you panel.

Don't Quit

Monday, May 26, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 2

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on………….."

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 2:  If you were off for Memorial Day and missed the first installment of this forum yesterday, click here: (and scroll down).

If you would like to comment, please go to the site and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.

Today's Question:
What knowledge areas are critical to entrepreneurship in the arts? Discuss how the arts are teaching, supporting, nurturing and preparing both artists and arts administrators to think and act entrepreneurially.  What does it mean to act entrepreneurially? What are the personal qualities and professional skills that make for a successful arts entrepreneur and a successful entrepreneurial project.  Can those qualities and / or skills be taught?    Comment on current arts entrepreneurship pedagogy.

Adam Huttler:  Beyond basic literacy in budgets and such, formal knowledge is of limited value to entrepreneurs. Far more important are (1) vision, (2) guts, and (3) adaptability.

Vision is the ability to imagine possible futures. In a leadership context, it further necessitates being able to convey that picture to others in a way that is compelling. It depends on a big-picture perspective, a talent for connecting the dots among seemingly unrelated ideas and trends, and skill at communicating both logical and emotional arguments. (If you have vision and can’t share it persuasively with others, then you’re just a crazy hermit.)  Vision is the fundamental prerequisite for entrepreneurial leadership. Sadly, I do not believe it can be taught (or if it can, I haven’t a clue how to teach it).

Guts is the ability to recognize risk but proceed confidently despite it. Having guts means accepting that failure is not merely a possibility, but is in fact the yin to success’s yang. At the same time, part of being a gutsy entrepreneur is knowing how to mitigate or compartmentalize risk, which decreases the cost of failure more than it undermines the potential for success.

Without guts, vision stagnates. Fortunately (and perhaps counter-intuitively) educators may have a role to play in cultivating entrepreneurs’ guts. Many would be entrepreneurs are held back by the fear that they don’t know enough – about business, technology, the market – to possibly succeed. This fear is crippling even when it’s unfounded. Training students in the vocabulary and concepts of industry can sometimes unlock guts that were previously suppressed by fear.

Likewise, it’s worth noting that most serious training in the arts requires that we make ourselves vulnerable in ways that a typical accounting student would shudder to contemplate. The experience of having your deeply personal expressions repeatedly exposed and judged by others forces you to get good and cozy with the idea of failure. That’s useful practice for future entrepreneurial endeavors.

Finally, adaptability is the ability to pivot when presented with unexpected setbacks or opportunities. Entrepreneurial ventures never go precisely as planned, so this skill is essential to seeing them through.

To a certain extent, adaptability is a function of intelligence and personality. However, these cognitive muscles can be developed through exercise – another opportunity for educators to nurture future entrepreneurs. When I look back on my own business school experience, what stands out isn’t the Black-Scholes options pricing model. In fact, almost none of the technical models and formal concepts have been relevant to my experience as an entrepreneur. However, the hours I spent reviewing case studies with professors and classmates were transformative. They exercised my brain’s ability to think analytically about business problems and trained me to see and consider many possibilities in any situation.

Andrew Taylor:  A key distinction for me between a manager and an entrepreneur is their sense of agency -- their belief and ability to take their own actions in the world.

To put it in an extreme frame for the point: Managers often behave as occupants of their jobs, their organizations, and their markets. To improve as managers, they become better occupants...learning how the machine works, aligning their energy to make it work better. (I'm making this sound sheepish, but I don't mean it that is a complex and beautiful gift to make an existing system work well).

Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are architects of their jobs and their markets. Their work, their resources, the structures around them, and their audiences are all objects worthy of creative attention, connection, and reinvention.

In the many arts enterprise courses I've taught and co-taught, personal qualities and professional skills were certainly essential. But the transformative power was in student discovery of their own agency. Many had spent their whole academic life moving from one institution to another (schools, ensembles, studios, colleges, etc.), positioning themselves for the next institutional transition. Few had been invited or encouraged to consider themselves as powerful actors within that work.

They had been learning to be good occupants of the arts system, and not architects.

I found that this discovery and development of individual and group agency comes mostly through making things, rather than learning the theory of making things (although people need both). Talking to and hearing from active practitioners. Leaving the classroom to talk to artists, audiences, anyone to test their assumptions and ideas. Analyzing and criticizing the work of their peers. All contribute to this sense of power in the world, and the confidence to exercise that power in the pursuit of their profession.

Ruby Lerner:  The knowledge areas that I think are critical are fundraising, marketing and promotion. Historically, the arts have been weak in those areas, especially on the marketing side of things, and they continue to be weak. At Creative Capital, this has been a big focus. Both in our Professional Development Program and in our work with artists through our awards program, we try to teach artists to think strategically about their budgets and fundraising needs, and how to market their work to reach larger audiences.

As far as acting entrepreneurially, I think the defining characteristics of an entrepreneurial spirit are seeing opportunities and seizing them.  Entrepreneurial artists need to be bold and fearless. It’s about staying alert to take advantage of opportunities and having the capital to explore them. I think those qualities can absolutely be taught, but the biggest obstacle for the arts sector tends to be the funding. Most artists and arts orgs do not having the capital to do the kinds of rapid prototyping and exploration that other fields have the luxury of engaging in. You need to be an endless analyzer to make sure you’re making the most of the resources available to you, and not be afraid to course-correct when needed.

Richard Evans:  The entrepreneur is sometimes confused with the creative ideas person.  These are not the same.  Some people are naturally brilliant at coming up with divergent thinking and original ideas.  The great majority of people talented in this way are less agile and persistent when it comes to implementation (particularly when the complexities of an organization are involved).  By contrast, the entrepreneur is not necessarily a fount of ideas.  Rather, he or she is brilliant at bringing ideas to market – often building on, or stealing, the breakthrough ideas of others.  Specifically, social entrepreneurs can see the ideas to pursue for market advantage and for social return, and have the determination and savvy to see them through.  Or, at least, that used to be the case.  Today’s complexities are causing these characteristics to shift.

We see this shift in our work with all the Innovation Teams that EmcArts helps arts organizations create and manage.  In analyzing likely team performance, we make use of Meredith Belbin’s research into team-role preferences.  In decades of research worldwide, Belbin uncovered 9 consistent team-roles that are evident and necessary as people work together.  At least four of the team-roles provide insights into entrepreneurship and how it translates into action inside organizations – and the findings are curiously counter-intuitive.

Most closely associated with entrepreneurial activity are the Resource Investigator and Coordinator roles.  Resource Investigators are outgoing and curious.  Their preference is to explore all available creative ideas, develop external contacts, and negotiate for resources on behalf of the team.  They are able to see the system more fully than others, and take account of its dynamics in developing a strategy.

The second of Belbin’s three “social” roles is the other most associated with contemporary entrepreneurship.  The Coordinator, despite the mundane title, is often referred to as the “servant leader.”  Individuals with a preference for this role gravitate to facilitating the team, to drawing out all its voices and ensuring an equitable balance of input, probing the diversity of perspectives to enable breakthrough thinking rather than the more usual gravitational pull of the loudest contributor.

By contrast, two of Belbin’s team-roles are not clearly associated with entrepreneurship, perhaps surprisingly.  The Shaper, who favors rapid action, can propose a compelling way forward, and has the courage and stamina to overcome obstacles in achieving the result, might seem central to entrepreneurship.  But this kind of “heroic leader” frequently fails to hear the questioning input of others and is insensitive to their feelings, tramples rather than invests in ideas contrary to their own, and may well propose the one solution to the challenge that is “simple, direct and wrong.”  In terms of entrepreneurship, the leader with an advanced capacity for appreciative inquiry is beginning to outrun the Shaper who perennially wants to cut to the chase.

Finally, the Plant, the naturally original thinker whose contribution lies in consistently coming up with creative and divergent ideas, but who can also get lost in the clouds, only contributes directly to entrepreneurism and to innovation if his or her ideas are taken up by others with the motivation and ability to get traction.  The ability to work with ideas from multiple sources, molding and connecting them to generate resources, is these days of more importance to an entrepreneurial approach than the cry of Eureka! in the bath.

A further twist is that most people currently employed in the professional arts sector are pragmatists who favor a clearly developed system to get things done, short-term deadlines, and repeatable outputs — especially when resources are scarce and efficiency is highly valued (what Belbin calls Implementers and Completer-Finishers).  So it’s not surprising that innovation has been sucked into this orbit, being interpreted as primarily about coming up with new programs and products — commodified innovation, if you will. This focuses on the wrong thing, misses the true nature of innovation, and reduces its power.  Because innovation is first and foremost a process, a way of creating the conditions for emergent behavior, for “next practices” to be realized.

All this has led me to conclude that what we most need to do in nurturing and preparing arts practitioners to be entrepreneurs is to build their skills in adaptive leadership, as originally defined by Ronald Heifetz  – 1) seeing the larger system by “getting on the balcony” to identify complex challenges, 2) facilitating processes that give the work back to people rather than impose a solution, 3) regulating the distress of letting-go that is associated with innovation and breakthrough change, by choreographing conflict (rather than suppressing it), 4) maintaining disciplined attention to the challenge through reflective practice, and 5) protecting voices of leadership that arise from below by respecting all sources of input and insisting on inclusion.

This kind of personal developmental work requires extended practice in one’s own organization and out in the community, alongside regular personal coaching.  At EmcArts, we’ve tried to create these conditions in our new leadership program, Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators.

One of the most exciting trends I see in this area is the evolution of the role of teaching artists.  Leaders in this emerging field are bringing the techniques of aesthetic practice and experiential learning through artmaking to bear on larger, longer-term challenges in organizational and community change.  Lincoln Center Education, Big Thought, COCA in St. Louis, and Dreamyard are all pioneers of this entrepreneurial approach.  Corporations are desperate for it, but the social sector is also beginning to see its utility.  Michael Rohd’s Center for Performance and Civic Practice in Chicago offers “arts-engaged partnership work that is developed in service to the needs of the non-arts partner.”  At the root of this body of practice is “the need to listen, over time, so as to discover how the artist’s assets and the partner’s needs may serve each other in surprising moments and previously unimagined forms.”

To put entrepreneurship into action, I find myself asking: How in my organization do we promote and celebrate divergent ideas?  What might make that safer?  How do we charter non-traditional teams to develop ideas into new ventures and test them?  How tolerant are we of giving up our individual authority and control in the construction and chartering of these teams?  How can we learn to stay in the productive heat of idea conflict, and not descend into relationship conflict?

Anthony Radich:  The area of arts entrepreneurship is often treated as something that is entirely new. More widespread knowledge of highly successful arts entrepreneurs in the history of the arts would help that field understand that business entrepreneurship in the arts is part of a continuum that over the years has included some very savvy practitioners. In the visual arts, the 16th-century artist Titian was a highly successful entrepreneur, in the early 17th century, Shakespeare was a remarkable entrepreneur; in the music field, 19th-century composer Giuseppe Verdi made millions by knowing how to monetize his innovations.  These are examples of not only great artists but great entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial strategies these successful artists used need to be understood by today’s art entrepreneurs. Many of their strategies are as viable today as they were hundreds of years ago.

I would also argue that recognition needs to be given to arts entrepreneurs who have long labored behind the scenes practicing arts entrepreneurship in less visible positions in arts organizations. These individuals have created value and new revenues by using entrepreneurial tools to grow earned income. They have succeeded as business entrepreneurs by increasing ticket sales, expanding revenues from arts festivals, building museum shops, designing online collateral sales programs, and developing and deploying art classes for youth as both a means of income and as a way to cultivate future audiences.  Art entrepreneurs can be some of the lesser known individuals in arts organizations. Our field has a large number of unrecognized business entrepreneurs working away behind the scenes far from the spotlight.

Linda Essig:  First, the art has to be there. In other words the knowledge that is used to create the art is a prerequisite to the knowledge critical to entrepreneurial action.  As in many fields, we can look at both domain knowledge and technical knowledge.  Arts entrepreneurship domain knowledge is currently being built and far more research is needed.  One of the reasons we started Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts is to provide an outlet for the dissemination of new knowledge of and about arts entrepreneurship.  Domain knowledge in arts entrepreneurship has to do with the unique context(s) in which artistic production and dissemination happen and the cognitive processes one undertakes to recognize/create opportunity, innovate, and actuate.  Technical knowledge relative to arts entrepreneurship is the more fixed type of knowledge such as the mechanics of new venture creation or budget management.

It is relatively easy to teach fixed technical knowledge. Domain knowledge is trickier to teach, but I’ve found that providing experiential learning opportunities can help the nascent arts entrepreneur to develop habits of mind such as resilience, persistence, meta-cognition, and the like that support entrepreneurial action.  A recent article in Artivate coming out of Australia extends the “habits of mind concept” to develop teachable means for developing an “arts entrepreneurial mindset” including  “Creative, Strategic, Analytical and Reflective Thinking,”  “Confidence” (or what I would call self-efficacy), “Collaborative Abilities, “Communication Skills,” and “Understanding of Artistic Context.”

I’ve written a bit about arts entrepreneurship pedagogy and don’t want to take up space on your blog repeating myself, but in summary, I have found three pedagogies to be successful in teaching the domain knowledge of arts entrepreneurship: collaborative team-based projects, one-to-one mentorship, and experiential learning.

Russell Willis Taylor:  The knowledge areas that are most critical to the practice of entrepreneurship would include:  technology and how it can be harnessed to increase impact, revenue portfolio creation skills, environmental awareness (active feedback loops), sales, understanding of the value being created (domain expertise), strong team-building skills and talent management abilities, personal resilience, and an understanding of how to build flexible organizational structures.  So that should be pretty easy then – forgetting only the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.    I also think that the ability to see the patterns in the work that is being done and in the environment is a less easy to train for but characteristic skill of successful entrepreneurial leaders.

There is a lot of good training out there for all of these areas, and I think I will be forgiven for noting that quite a bit of that good training is done by National Arts Strategies.   But we are not the only providers by any stretch of the imagination, and the diversity of good training is very important if we want to encourage and nurture the types of leaders our field will need in the future.  The challenge is not the availability of good training;  we have a wealth of universities offering graduate programs, online resources, Creative Capital, providers like the Center for Creative Leadership, specialist training organizations like GLI and the leadership training at all the national service organizations -- to name but a few.

The two big challenges are having (making) the time for learning, and knowing how to assess what training will improve your personal entrepreneurial skills.  My personal bias is that any training should have good solid theory behind it, and should also have a high degree of practical utility.  Expert testimony (or “Here’s how I do my job” training) is the training that makes me the most uneasy – as I think it can too easily slip into the unhelpful category of unintentionally training tomorrow’s leaders to run yesterday’s institutions -- but there is more than enough superb training in all these areas to go around without relying on those of us who are “elder statesmen” trotting out our war stories.

Thank you panel.

Don't Quit

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon - Day 1

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on………………"

Beginning today, and through Friday, our panel for this forum will respond to one question each day on the topic of Entrepreneurship and the Arts.   If you would like to comment, please go to the site and click on the comment icon at the end of the blog.

Here is our panel (see last week's blog post for bios on each):

Linda Essig - Pave Program in Entrepreneurship - Arizona State University
Russsell Willis Taylor - President /  CEO - National Arts Strategies
Adam Huttler - Executive Director, Fractured Atlas
Anthony Radich - Executive Director, WESTAF
Richard Evans - Executive Director - Emc Arts
Andrew Taylor - Assistant Professor in the Arts Management Program at the College of Arts and Sciences at American University
Ruby Lerner - President / Executive Director - Creative Capital

Today's Question:

Define Arts Entrepreneurship and its current status within the nonprofit arts field.  What are the main principles, processes and practices that govern arts entrepreneurial theory, policy and application?  

Linda Essig:  First, thank you for inviting me to participate in this blogathon on the topic of arts entrepreneurship and the opportunity to visit, or re-visit, some of the key issues in the field.

Defining Arts Entrepreneurship
Definitions are tricky things. They can serve to illuminate, but can also serve to restrict or confine.  Over several years of teaching and research about arts entrepreneurship, I’ve come up with the following somewhat fluid working definition:

"Arts entrepreneurship can be understood to be the application of entrepreneurial action in the service of art and thus is inclusive of a continuum of activities from individual artists acting to recognize, create, and exploit opportunities for the creation and dissemination of their art through the formation of nonprofit and commercial ventures that support the production and dissemination of art. Entrepreneurial action itself can be understood as a universal form of human action in which an original idea is actualized so as to create value, be it cultural, financial, intellectual, or social value."

 The inclusiveness of this definition is appealing, but those who assume entrepreneurship means “starting a business” might contest it.  I start from the assumption, shared by Koppl and Minitti in an essay on social entrepreneurship that I cite frequently, that entrepreneurship is a “universal form of human action.”  The concept of “action” is important – entrepreneurship is not passive. Whether undertaken by an individual artist seeking their next commission or gig or a group of individuals joining together to form a commercial firm, entrepreneurship cannot be passive.   The working definition noted above is not restricted to the nonprofit arts sector, it is inclusive of both nonprofit and for-profit ventures.

Arts entrepreneurship is more than – or rather different from – merely new venture creation in the arts and culture sector.  “In the service of art” is a phrase used quite purposefully in the definition to denote that arts entrepreneurship keeps art at the center.  I use the metaphor of the Ouroboros to explain this concept, the serpent nourishing itself from its own tail: If art (the head) is truly innovative,  entrepreneurship can connect it to audience in a way that generates money (the tail) and that money then feeds the creation of more art while, I note, sustaining the lives of the artist so they can continue to make that art.

Much of the policy-related work on arts entrepreneurship is focused on art as an economic driver in community development or as a driver of asset-based community development more generally.  In their definitional paper on “Creative Placemaking,” Markusen and Gadwa note that an entrepreneur to lead a creative placemaking effort is one of several pre-requisites to successful creative placemaking endeavors.  An entrepreneur in this sense may not be a business owner, but rather an initiator of projects who can put together the resources to make them happen.  The rightfully contested but still ubiquitous “creative class” concept also affects the policy space relative to arts entrepreneurship as cities attempt to attract artists (I try not to use the term “creative” as a noun, except when referring to the advertising industry) by implementing arts districts, artist live/work space and, in some cases, business training for artists.


Arts entrepreneurship means the application of entrepreneurial habits of mind (e.g. opportunity recognition, persistence, resilience) to artistic practice. One could say “artistic practice for the market,” but if entrepreneurship is a universal form of human action – the action of innovating and actualizing – then it can occur in non-market contexts too.  “Arts entrepreneurship” as a concept has been decried as a neoliberal scourge on the arts, but I view it from a somewhat opposite perspective as a means for artists to control their own means of production, whether individually or through an arts organization.

Richard Evans:  It’s still one of my favorite quotes from the Bush regime.  When belittling the French for opposing the invasion of Iraq, the President noted with that smirk: “Why, they don’t even have a word for entrepreneur….!”  In a sense, his quandary is understandable – the definition of the “entrepreneur” is notoriously disputed, and has not really settled down despite the resurgence of its use in the last several decades.  The roots of the word are old, from the Latin “prehendere,” to grasp, and “inter,” between.  There’s an interesting link to prehensile – “adapted for grasping”…..

By the late 15th century, building on the new idea of an undertaking as an “enterprise,” the concrete associations were giving way to something more abstract – “readiness to undertake challenges, a spirit of daring.”  Merely grabbing was modulating into a preparedness to take risks, and to act without certainty of the outcome.  Making fun of all this, the French initiated phrases like “entrepreneur de pompes funèbres” which refers, of course, to an undertaker (where the outcome is dead certain).  The Irish-Frenchman Richard Cantillon defined the entrepreneur in 1755 as a person who pays a certain price for a product and resells it at an uncertain price: “making decisions about obtaining and using resources while consequently admitting the risk of enterprise.”  Not surprising, then, that by the 19th century the French usage was becoming less morbid, expanding to cover the director of a musical institution or of a theatrical production.  This is when the arts first begin to be associated with the term – although we might say that we have tended since then to veer more to the Italian, impresario having the same root in an “undertaking” (impress).

Enter the modern corporation.  The frequency of the word entrepreneur has climbed steadily (and 400-fold) since 1920.  For economist Joseph Schumpeter, the entrepreneur was the creative rebel, fomenting disequilibrium, and breaking away from the path of routine to implement innovations through “creative destruction.”  Howard Stevenson of Harvard may have summarized this approach most elegantly as “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled…..” (1983).

In these descriptions, the link to organizational practice in the arts seems clear, despite lacking the underpinning of the pure profit motive.  Artmaking itself for sure “breaks away from the path of routine,” and is creatively rebellious.  And virtually all arts organizations offer their performances and exhibits with a clear enough sense of the associated costs, but with little certainty of them being fully covered.  Arts organizations are in the business of managing both risk (which can be calibrated based on past experience) and uncertainty (which cannot).

In the 1980s, sociologist Paul DiMaggio of Princeton put forward the argument (building on Henry Hansmann) that rational managers of not-for-profit arts organizations seek to maximize neither revenues nor donations, but the aggregate of the two, lowering ticket prices sufficiently below cost to excite the enthusiasm of donors supportive of wider access, but not reducing them so much that the enterprise appears in danger of becoming unsustainable.  DiMaggio concluded that “if the earnings gap didn’t exist, enterprising arts managers would have had to invent it.”

This notion, of the positive advantage and strategic purpose of the not-for-profit vehicle, has fed the ascendency over the last 20 years of the idea of the “social entrepreneur,” whose ability is to sniff out a potential social return on investment – a leveraged benefit to stakeholders who are not private investors – that complements more traditional returns, to constitute a sustainable “triple bottom line” of social, ecological, and financial accountability.

So what might we say about the contemporary qualities of the arts entrepreneur, of the not-for-profit kind?  If we base our current understanding of “arts entrepreneurship” on most of these old established terms of reference, it unfortunately restricts us to a focus on qualities of the individual, essentially as heroic leader.  If entrepreneurship remains defined broadly within these terms, then it is increasingly going to miss the boat – the boat, that is, filled with those who are together “consenting to leave the shore… in order to discover new lands” (André Gide).  Because it is through team endeavors, through the deliberate pooling of multiple perspectives rather than reliance on any single individual, no matter how brilliant, that the “wicked problems” of our time are going to be imaginatively addressed.

For arts entrepreneurship to be a useful tag these days, my experience at EmcArts suggests we need to re-invent it to take account of how we can lead, and have sustainable impact, in the complex adaptive systems that all artists and arts organizations now have to operate in.  This re-invention, I suspect, will place a new emphasis on some aspects of the old terminology (the determination and ability to work effectively through extended periods of massive ambiguity, for instance), while de-emphasizing others (for example, the creative sole operator seeing the opportunity and going for it).

Can arts entrepreneurship be re-thought to encompass the leadership skills and organizational capacity we need to reframe our challenges and succeed in a time of “permanent white water”?

Russell Willis Taylor:  The definition of entrepreneurship is widely debated, but I like a very simple one: the activity of creating new value with less than optimal resources.  By this definition almost every nonprofit arts leader in America is an entrepreneur, and the first writing on the topic would have to be Robert Browning. (A man’s reach should exceed his grasp)  It is the creation of new value that is at the heart of what drives entrepreneurs – they may get rich in the end (if not in our field) but that’s not what gets them off the starting block.  This new value may present itself in the creation of jobs, experiential goods, educational services, societal debate or entertainment.  In our field, this value is created for the public at large rather than for shareholders or investors.

Over the past few years, the term has been used to cover a broad range of revenue generating skills and activities, all geared to enhancing organizational sustainability.  But the creation of value remains the mark of the entrepreneur and the revenue generating is just a means to an end – or should be.

In a recent discussion with a group of our Chief Executive Program leaders, they identified three entrepreneurial activities as concrete examples of how this value creation might manifest itself in our field:

  • Partnering with social service organizations or being entrepreneurial in solving a community problem
  • Being innovative in the way we connect with audiences and communities
  • Redefining our institutions to remain relevant despite environmental shifts

The principles, practices and processes are explored in detail and with real intellectual rigor on Linda Essig’s site and also at SMU’s Meadows Program. Between these two, it would be hard to find better resources to detail all the aspects of entrepreneurship in our field. These could perhaps be summarized as having a clear and compelling vision, being able to communicate that vision to others, having the stamina and expertise to operationalize that vision, and having the skill to rapidly respond to changes in the environment.  These are not ordinary qualities, and they simultaneously create things of wonder and demand a great deal of the leader.

Anthony Radich:  The definitions of the term entrepreneur are many. The root meaning is found in the world of economics, where the term generally has been defined as a person who, through innovation and/or insight, adds value to a product or service and moves it to a higher level of economic return. In recent times, however, great liberties have been taken with the term, and it has come to be generally associated with innovation and the taking of risk not limited to commercial enterprise. Although the term entrepreneur retains a strong association with a person who takes risks to make money, it is widely applied to individuals in government, education and politics who take risks and innovate to create non-monetizable but often measurable results.  

Of course, the term social entrepreneur needs to be dealt with here as well, because in the arts, it is too easily confused with the term business entrepreneur. The social entrepreneur “aims for value in the form of large-scale, transformational benefit that accrues either to a significant segment of society or to society at large” (“Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, spring 2007). While social entrepreneurship has a value and a practice in the arts, we are not--at least I am not--talking about social entrepreneurism in this blog. That said, I find that the arts community is pretty undisciplined in its use of these terms and often blends the concept of the business entrepreneur with that of the social entrepreneur.

I don’t think we can discuss entrepreneurism in the arts without first addressing its current context. A key element of that context is the near collapse of a vision for the arts to be provided in whole or in part as a public good. There has always been a commercial side to the arts such as graphic design, music recording, architecture, popular filmmaking, etc.  Unfortunately, we are currently living in a time in which there is a near complete disinterest in arguments for support of the arts as a public good that has a position outside of the marketplace. Today, segments of the arts that have long had limited commercial application are being reviewed and considered for business entrepreneur treatment. Without the dramatic fade of the vision for large-scale support for the arts as a public good, the entrepreneurial side of the arts would likely remain modest, and the race to put the nonprofit arts into the marketplace through entrepreneurial means would likely be a and ripple not a wave.

Another contextual factor that stimulates the expansion of business entrepreneurial activity in the arts is the dramatic and well-publicized entrepreneur-driven success found in the technology sector. Indeed, when individuals can, through entrepreneurial means, not only become fabulously wealthy but also shape the way in which much of humanity organizes their communication, information, etc., then not just the arts community but the entire society is drawn gold rush like to the entrepreneurial tools applied by the now enormously successful technologists. The highly successful technology entrepreneurs have become the gods of our times, and the power of their wake is too strong for the arts to avoid being drawn into it.

Ruby Lerner:  Take a look at the Wikipedia definition of entrepreneurship; it states, “Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture.” I think that’s a great, broad definition that encompasses business entrepreneurs along with what you’re calling “arts entrepreneurs.”

It’s important to note that this is not a new phenomenon—it’s just a new term. There are plenty of entrepreneurial undertakings in the arts going way back, like Artists Space, the Wooster Group and Steppenwolf Theatre, which were all founded in the ’70s. We didn’t call them entrepreneurs then, but that’s what they were. “Arts entrepreneurship” is a buzzword right now, but I think the status of entrepreneurship in the nonprofit arts field has been strong for many decades.

At Creative Capital, we’re not really involved in arts entrepreneurship “theory” or “policy,” but we’ve developed a system that does a good job of supporting artists as entrepreneurs. Simply put, we believe that artists are entrepreneurs in the cultural arena and that they deserve access to the tools and resources that parallel what’s available in other sectors. Drawing from venture capital models, we surround artists with a comprehensive support structure that provides money, assists with skills and network building, and includes advisory and promotional support.

Adam Huttler:  In the business world, an entrepreneur is someone who has an idea for a venture, assembles the capital to realize it, assumes both risk and responsibility, and reaps the rewards when it succeeds. The nonprofit arts are not fundamentally different. Nearly all artistic creation is project-based in its conception and execution, and nearly all art-makers do so serially with limited continuity from one project to the next. Viewed in that light, we’re all acting as serial (if not frantic and compulsive!) entrepreneurs. But this is simplistic and perhaps reductionist, so let’s take a closer look at the motives and mechanics of entrepreneurship in practice.

First, let’s get the whole profit motive out of the way. Clearly this is a big element that we don’t share with the business world. However, it’s an overrated and misunderstood component of entrepreneurial psychology. Most traditional entrepreneurs are motivated first by a desire to realize a creative vision  on their own terms. Financial rewards are important, but they’re ultimately not what gets us out of bed in the morning.

Likewise, the aspects of entrepreneurship that are most relevant in the context of nonprofit arts have to do with vision and self-determination. Importantly, these are more often manifest in individual artists than in organizations.

Consider as a backdrop the model 20th century arts organization. These institutions are in trouble in large part due to their structural dependence on a limited supply of third party philanthropists. In a Faustian bargain, we traded our basic autonomy for liberation from market forces. Fifty years after Mac Lowry, the bill has come due, and it’s being paid in the form of bankruptcies and labor disputes.

Fortunately, the same macro forces that have some organizations struggling to survive – globalization, the internet, demographic shifts – also create unprecedented opportunities for the entrepreneurially inclined. In particular, new internet-based technologies allow for the radical disintermediation of fundraising (e.g., Kickstarter), production (e.g., digital video, 3D printing), marketing (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), and distribution (e.g., YouTube). That’s pretty much the whole pipeline! 

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this is the extent to which many arts organizations have themselves functioned essentially as middlemen. Artists create art. We need organizations only in so far as there are barriers to entry and economies of scale in the aforementioned pipeline. As middlemen become increasingly obsolete, it’s unsurprising that many organizations are struggling to demonstrate their relevance. Meanwhile, entrepreneurial artists are happily exploiting their new autonomy to finance, create, promote, and distribute work without any bloated institutional overhead.

This isn’t to suggest that all arts organizations are hopeless anachronisms, or that they’re incapable of entrepreneurship. But the ones that succeed are those that find something to offer beyond base administrative competence or economies of scale. Today, entrepreneurial arts organizations create value for artists and audiences by enhancing the actual creative process or audience experience, and they do it in a way that is self-directed and sustainable. 

Andrew Taylor:  Like many other hot-button terms in arts and culture, "entrepreneurship" has been stretched and adapted to describe a bafflingly wide swath of endeavor. And also like many other hot-button phrases (community, capitalization, diversity, arts education), we rarely stop to define what we mean when we say it. 

"Entreprendre" in French means "to undertake". The word "enterprise" comes from the same source. Since the 18th century, the "entrepreneur" has been the individual who makes decisions about obtaining and using resources while consequently admitting the risk of enterprise (Richard Cantillon, ca. 1734), or more broadly, "an economic agent who unites all means of production -- land of one, the labor of another, and the capital of yet another" (Jean-Baptiste Say, 1803).

"Entrepreneurship," therefore, is the bundle of activities and attitudes associated to an individual who connects resources and assumes risk to create value. Over the past many decades, we've come to attach special attention to certain aspects -- creativity, initiative, energy, obsessive focus particularly on undiscovered gaps or opportunities in markets, ability to attract and direct other peoples' resources. 

"Arts Entrepreneurship" adds a second elusive word, making it an ideal way to gain consensus at an arts conference without actually knowing what you're agreeing to. We tend to mean it as scrappy and resourceful, compared to deliberative and resource-intensive enterprise. We tend to mean it as dancing more elegantly between nonprofit and for-profit. We also tend to mean it as the thing individual artists and small groups do when they're not otherwise employed by arts organizations.

When I began my academic career, at least one national entrepreneurship group would not accept nonprofits among their ranks, as "entrepreneurship" meant "employment through self-ownership" and nonprofits had no owners. With the rise of social entrepreneurship, all sorts of values and outcomes are now deemed worthy of entrepreneurship. Although policy makers tend to favor economic value and job creation above all others.

For me, the useful framing for "arts entrepreneurship" is as any innovative connection or collection of resources toward expressive ends. Arts entrepreneurs are agnostic about business entity -- nonprofit, for-profit, hybrid, temporary, or non-organizational -- but obsessive about outcome or impact. While "arts managers" continually improve execution of an existing business model, "arts entrepreneurs" discover their business model through hypothesis, testing, and constant iteration. 

Arts entrepreneurship is not a new thing (it's ancient). Nor is it appropriate to all outcomes. But it's nice to see the old ideas finding new energy and life in new markets.

Thank you panel.

Have a great day.

Don't Quit.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Arts Entrepreneurship Upcoming Blogathon

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on………………"

Note:  Thank you to all of you who submitted names for possible inclusion as invited guests to the Dinner-vention 2.  We hope to announce the guest list within six weeks or so.  

Entrepreneurship and the Arts has been a hot topic over the past couple of years. More university programs in arts administration are including the subject in their curriculum, more training in being entrepreneurial is being offered to working artists, and the topic is increasingly part of the discussion on innovation, being adaptive, and generally as related to survivability.

Most of us think of Silicon Valley when we hear the word "entrepreneur" - the bold, risk-taking people with new ideas behind start ups that sweep our world and make the founders wealthy beyond belief.  Entrepreneurs are the creative and relentlessly hard working people who push the envelope and who succeed in convincing others that their idea's time has come.

In the arts, the same is likely true.  We also think of entrepreneurs as being savvy business people, who use and manage the latest in theories, technology and business applications to succeed in a highly competitive and tough economic environment.

But Arts Entrepreneurship is a big topic, and there are lots of unanswered questions when considering it.

I enlisted the advice and help of Linda Essig to co-chair this effort, and we've invited the following six additional leaders in our field whose work involves facets of arts entrepreneurship and asked them to participate in a week long mini-blogathon on the topic and to share their knowledge and insight into the subject in the hope that we might begin to have a wider understanding of all the nuances and sub-text issues of any discussion about arts entrepreneurship.   Each of the participants has substantial experience about one or more facets of the topic, and each has been significantly involved in one way or another with innovation and cutting edge practices within our field.

Next week, each day, Monday through Friday, all of the panelists will respond to a different single question about the topic - sharing their perspective - including:

  • Defining the current status of the concept within our field - its' principles, processes, and practices.
  • The knowledge areas critical to being an effective entrepreneur, and the state of arts entrepreneurship pedagogy.
  • The challenges to, and opportunities for, advancing arts entrepreneurship.
  • The state of research into the area.
  • The relationship to collaboration, risk taking and bias.

Here are the participants in next week's discussion (a really quite extraordinary assemblage I think):

Linda Essig:  Linda heads the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, which has helped over 30 student teams develop arts-based ventures for Arizona and beyond since its inception in 2005 and publishes the only research journal in the field, Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts.  She was the first director of the ASU School of Theatre and Film, now the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, where she also served as Artistic Director of the school's MainStage Season from 2004–2010. Her current research is on the social value and organizational values of arts venture incubators.   She is the author of articles and book chapters on both arts entrepreneurship and lighting design as well as two books: Lighting and the Design Idea (third edition, January 2012) and The Speed of Light: Dialogues on Lighting Design and Technological Change. She recently competed work as the director of evaluation for "Home in the Desert," an NEA-funded interdisciplinary community arts project. She has served on the boards of directors of the University/Resident Theatre Association, US Institute for Theatre Technology, and the Phoenix Fringe Festival. Prior to joining ASU, she was on the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison for sixteen years.  Her blog, covers arts entrepreneurship, arts policy, higher education in the arts and, occasionally, cooking. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix

Adam Huttler:  Adam is Fractured Atlas's founder and Executive Director. He has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, an M.B.A. from New York University, and is a self-taught software developer. Since forming Fractured Atlas in 1998, he has grown the organization from a one-man-band housed in an East Harlem studio apartment to a broad-based national service organization with an annual budget of $20 million. Adam serves on a number of boards and steering committees, including those of the Performing Arts Alliance, the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors, and NYC's One Percent for Culture campaign.

Ruby Lerner:  Ruby is the founding President and Executive Director of Creative Capital. Prior to Creative Capital, Lerner served as the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Film and Videomakers (AIVF) and as Publisher of the highly regarded Independent Film and Video Monthly. Having worked regionally in both the performing arts and independent media fields, she served as the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a coalition of Southeastern performing artists, and IMAGE Film/Video Center, both based in Atlanta. In the late 1970s, she was the Audience Development Director at the Manhattan Theatre Club, one of New York's foremost nonprofit theaters.

Lerner has written and lectured extensively, including at Harvard Business School (in conjunction with a Harvard Business School case study on Creative Capital) and for the University of North Carolina’s Entrepreneurship Program. She regularly presents on arts issues at conferences and summits, including the Grantmakers for the Arts conference, the National Innovation Summit for Arts & Culture, IdeaFestival in Louisville and the Independent Sector National Conference. Lerner was a 30th Annniversary ArtTable Honoree (2011) and recipient of the John L. Haber Award from the University of North Carolina (2009), the Catalyst Award from the National Association of Artists Organizations (2007), the BAXten Award from the Brooklyn Arts Exchange (2007), a Creative Leadership Award from the Alliance of Artists Communities (2005), the Artist Advocate Award from the Alliance of New York State Arts Organizations (2003) and a Special Citation from Artists Space for her support of individual artists (2003). Ms. Lerner currently serves on the Headlands Center for the Arts Advisory Council; the Goucher College Committee of Visitors; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Innovation Circle; the National Advisory Board of the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, NC; and the National Advisory Board of the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Russell Willis Taylor:  Russell - President and CEO of National Arts Strategies since January 2001 - has extensive senior experience in strategic business planning, financial analysis and planning, and all areas of operational management. Educated in England and America, she served as director of development for the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art before returning to England in 1984 at the invitation of the English National Opera (ENO) to establish the Company's first fund-raising department. During this time, she also lectured extensively at graduate programs of arts and business management throughout Britain. From 1997 to 2001, she rejoined the ENO as executive director.

Russell has held a wide range of managerial and Board posts in the commercial and nonprofit sectors including the advertising agency DMBB; head of corporate relations at Stoll Moss; director of The Arts Foundation; special advisor to the Heritage Board, Singapore; chief executive of Year of Opera and Music Theatre (1997); judge for Creative Britons and lecturer on business issues and arts administration. She received the Garrett Award for an outstanding contribution to the arts in Britain, the only American to be recognized in this way, and has served on the boards of A&B (Arts and Business), Cambridge Arts Theatre, Arts Research Digest and the Society of London Theatre. She currently serves on the advisory boards of The University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, Salzburg Global Seminar, the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in Charlottesville and the Arts Management program at American University, on the British Council's Arts & Creative Economy Advisory Group and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2013, Russell was honored with the International Citation of Merit by the International Society for the Performing Arts, presented in recognition of her lifetime achievement and her distinguished service to the performing arts.

Anthony Radich:  Anthony has served as the executive director of WESTAF since August of 1996. In that capacity he is responsible for providing leadership to the thirteen-state regional arts organizations’ programs and special initiatives. He oversees WESTAF’s work in the areas of research, advocacy, and online systems development designed to benefit the cultural community. Prior to accepting his position at WESTAF, Radich served as the executive director of the Missouri Arts Council for eight years. There he led the successful effort to create a state cultural trust fund supported by a stream of dedicated state funding. Preceding his work in Missouri, Radich was the senior project manager for the Arts, Tourism, and Cultural Resources Committee of the National Conference of State legislatures (NCSL). As senior project manager, he worked with state legislators from across the country to develop state-level legislation and policy concerned with the arts, tourism, and historic preservation. While working for the NCSL, Radich was appointed by Denver Mayor Federico Peña to chair the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, the city’s arts agency.

Radich earned a bachelor's degree in physical anthropology and a master's degree in art education from the University of Oregon. He also earned a doctorate from the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado Denver.

Richard Evans:  Richard directs EmcArts programs and strategic partnerships. Richard’s recent research, program design, and facilitation places particular emphasis on innovation, adaptive organizational change, and effective ways that the arts and culture field can respond to the demands of a new era for the sector.

His studies on innovation and capacity building led to his design for the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts. An expansion of EmcArts’ successful pilot Lab for American orchestras, the Lab launched in Fall 2008. Fall 2011 saw the launch of a second national lab – the Innovation Lab for Museums. Richard also leads the design and implementation of the New Pathways for the Arts Initiative, a series of community-based innovation programs that is active in cities across the country.

Richard is a frequent speaker on the relationship between cultural policy and emerging practices in the arts. His past research and analytical expertise has been published in numerous field studies in the USA and the UK. Richard received his M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, England. Prior to founding EmcArts, he held numerous senior positions in performing arts management and philanthropy, including co-director of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Advancement Program, Chief Executive of the Bath International Festival of Music & the Arts, England, and Vice President of the National Arts Stabilization Fund.

BTW:  EmcArts is now Accepting Proposals: Two Rounds of the Innovation Lab partnering again with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to deliver two more rounds of their Innovation Lab programs.

Applications for Round 9 of the Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts and Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies are due by Friday, May 30, 2014.

Click on the Emc link above for more information.

Andrew Taylor:  Andrew is an Assistant Professor in the Arts Management Program at the College of Arts and Sciences at American University, Washington, D.C., exploring the intersection of arts, culture, and business. An author, lecturer, and researcher on a broad range of arts management issues, Andrew has also served as a consultant to arts organizations and cultural initiatives throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the William Penn Foundation, Overture Center for the Arts, American Ballet Theatre, Create Austin, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. Prior to joining the AU faculty, Andrew served as Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business for over a decade. Andrew is past president of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, current board member of the innovative arts support organization Fractured Atlas, and consulting editor both for The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society and for Artivate, a journal for arts entrepreneurship. Since July 2003, he has written a popular weblog on the business of arts and culture, ''The Artful Manager,'' hosted by (

I would like to thank each of the above panelists for taking time from their schedules to share some of their thinking on a topic that seems to me very likely to occupy more of our thoughts in the future, and which I believe has important implications for the arts field.  I am indebted to them all.

Have a great week, and please follow along with next week's Arts Entrepreneurship blogathon.

Don't Quit