The Double Bottom Line of Arts Entrepreneurship

Tania Katan, kicking off our annual Pave Speaker Series, opened her talk with a quote from the Merriam Webster online dictionary:

en·tre·pre·neur noun \ˌäⁿn-trə-p(r)ə-ˈnər, -ˈn(y)u̇r\: a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money

It was obvious from the context that neither Tania nor anyone in the audience (including me) agreed with this narrow conception of an entrepreneur.  Instead the arts entrepreneur looks at a double bottom line of art and money. Perhaps we can adapt this definition to read:

arts en·tre·pre·neur noun: an artist or other creative person who starts something and is willing to undertake some risk in order to make money to make art.

For the arts entrepreneur, money is necessary but not sufficient.

Photo of Herman Melvile, artist unknown

Soon after the talk, I came across Herman Melville’s poem Art in which art itself is a fusing of unlike forces, like the double bottom line of art and money:

In placid hours well-pleased we dream

Of many a brave unbodied scheme.

But form to lend, pulsed life create,

What unlike things must meet and mate:

A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;

Sad patience—joyous energies;

Humility—yet pride and scorn;

Instinct and study; love and hate;

Audacity—reverence. These must mate,

And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,

To wrestle with the angel—Art.

As Andy Warhol wrote, “Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art.”380px-Andy_Warhol_Autograph

 

For more on arts ventures see this post.

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is director of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, including its award-winning arts entrepreneurship program, Pave: http://pave.asu.edu The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of ASU. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix and "like" the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship at http://www.facebook.com/pages/pave-program-in-arts-entrepreneurship/386328970101 Find Pave's journal, Artivate, at http://artivate.org
This entry was posted in Arts entrepreneurship, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Double Bottom Line of Arts Entrepreneurship

  1. Terminology like ‘arts entrepreneur’ are used by those who think they are expanding the idea of Art but in fact are diluting the definition of who and what is an artist.

    “arts en·tre·pre·neur noun: an artist or other creative person who starts something and is willing to undertake some risk in order to make money to make art.”

    An artist, be they a writer, performer, painter, sculpture, makes Art. So who is the “other creative person” in this definition, and what are they making?

    • lindaessig says:

      Richard: there are a lot of very creative people who support artists in their art making, who enable the making of art, and who connect art with its audience, freeing the artist to do exactly as you describe: make art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s