A FOURTH Dimension of Arts Entrepreneurship

Sometimes, coincidences mount in ways that are truly mysterious.  On March 5, I completed work on a co-authored book chapter, The Enterprising Artist and the Arts Entrepreneur: Emergent pedagogies for new disciplinary habits of mind for a forthcoming volume on signature pedagogies.  The next day, I came across Andrew Taylor’s blog posting dated February 28 that references James Undercofler’s February 25 post about the course in arts entrepreneurship he’s developing at Drexel.  This was followed by Undercofler’s further discussion, picked up by Taylor’s blog, about three dimensions of arts entrepreneurship.  Undercofler defines these three dimensions as 1) career prep, 2) extensions of one’s artistic expertise, and 3) systems-level rethinking that goes beyond organizational structure (I paraphrase).

In the nascent arts entrepreneurship literature, there tends to be a focus around two dimensions, career self-management, which would be inclusive of Underclofer’s #1 and partially #2, and new venture models, inclusive of #2 (if the extensions include NVC) and #3.  Although I appreciate Undercofler’s three-dimensional model, there seems to be a fourth dimension missing from the discourse as it relates to arts entrepreneurship pedagogy: innovation and creativity.  While this last dimension is not the focus of my recently completed book chapter, it is likely to be a focus of future scholarship.

Reading Taylor’s postings out of order and reviewing Gary Beckman’s edited volume on arts entrepreneurship (mostly music entrepreneurship pedagogy) got me thinking about how the field has been developing over the last decade.  Many of the early voices in arts entrepreneurship have come from schools of music and programs in music entrepreneurship, which have traditionally tended to focus on career preparation, especially in the U.S.  Other perspectives, like Taylor’s, have come from arts management or business schools and have therefore understandably focused on organizational structures and business models.  Coming from a theatre and consulting background I have tended to embrace both views.

Peter Drucker famously wrote, “Innovation is the engine of entrepreneurship.”  It would seem that this would be as true of arts entrepreneurship as it is of traditional venture-creation entrepreneurship.  As the field of arts entrepreneurship is maturing as both a professional and academic discipline, we have an opportunity to define it in ways that will help not only our students and ourselves, but also the arts disciplines more generally.  Let’s include innovation in our discourse around arts entrepreneurship pedagogy so that we are helping to support the future directions of both our individual disciplines and of the arts writ large.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Cal State LA and principal/owner of Creative Infrastructure LLC. The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of Cal State LA. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix.
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