Coincident with a spate of interesting blog posts about defining success for oneself (digested today by Thomas Cott), I am traveling to a conference to present some research on measuring the success of arts venture incubators. Specifically, I look at the ways in which several university-based arts venture incubators measure their success as a pilot for a larger study on public, nonprofit, and commercial arts incubators. If you would like to read my report, it will be published later this year, but I thought I would share some concluding thoughts here:
Most of those interviewed for the study indicated that “encouraging thinking” in a value-based way about the arts is a goal of the program with which they are affiliated. What, then, are the measurable outputs of the entrepreneurial “thinking” encouraged in the academy and in the continuous learning process that follows? The preliminary business plans that constitute the application to the programs are one such output, as are the new ventures that result. Is the success and longevity of such ventures evidence that the learning outcome is met? I suggest, instead, that the launch activity itself is adequate evidence of a successful learning outcome. The venture does not need to succeed per se in order for the learning outcome to be met. As the Corzo Center director indicated, in an educational setting, failure is a necessary condition.
(For more on failure, see the text of my Tedx talk: Experience Failure for a Change)
UPDATE: For an update on this research, drawn from a cross-case analysis of incubators of different types, see Arts Incubator Evaluation Variables.
 The study included the New Venture Challenge at the Eastman School of Music, the Corzo Creative Incubator at University of the Arts , and the Pave Arts Venture Incubator, of which I am the director.