After “Hey Where’d Your Creativity Go?,” the questions I get asked most often is, “WHY Arts Entrepreneurship?” It seems fitting that for the 100th posting on Creative Infrastructure, I answer that question. There are many reasons why I decided to concentrate my professional efforts in this emergent field, but I’ll concentrate on the top two.
- I want to empower artists to be in control of the production and distribution of their art. We know that these are economically challenging times – and not only for artists. But there has been a simultaneous decline in both public and private funding for the arts. What arts funding there had been, for the most part, had been directed at arts organizations, not directly at individual artists. The only way, really, for an artist to be sure that their work gets produced and seen is to put it out in the world themselves. I want to increase the capacity of artists to do so.
- Management guru Peter Drucker wrote “Innovation is the engine of entrepreneurship.” I would argue that the reverse is also true: entrepreneurial behavior is the engine of innovation. Innovation in the arts is less likely to happen in large nonprofit organizations governed by boards of directors that tend to be risk averse. Innovation will happen when creative people get together and make something new. Teaching people about entrepreneurial behavior and then helping them develop the capacity to produce and distribute their own work (see #1) will support ongoing innovation in the arts. [There have been two interesting blog threads recently on the issue of artist/arts institution relationship: the first from Adam Huttler in reaction to Michael Kaiser and the second from Diane Ragsdale – be sure to read the comments too.]
Some people assume that because I teach entrepreneurship, I am some kind of libertarian capitalist extremist; others assume that because I’m in higher education in the arts I’m some kind of communistic left wing extremist. I’m neither. Yes, entrepreneurship is an invention of capitalism and worker control of the means of production a communist one, but I view the entrepreneurial behaviors of opportunity recognition, creativity, and innovation as the nonpartisan keys to the future of the arts. That’s why.