Preview: The Ouroboros

Next week, I will be delivering the keynote or “framing” remarks at UW-Madison’s Arts Business Symposium, in advance of which I offer my opening thoughts:

The title of the event includes the word “Bi-directionality” and promotes the excitement over the potential for the positive impact the arts can have on business.  Much attention is paid to the positive, instrumental effects of the arts on business  — not just here at this conference, of course.  Americans for the Arts, for example, recently published its fourth edition of Arts and Economic Prosperity.  The “Creative Placemaking” concept has arts and culture activities shaping the nature of neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions for the better.  But to be truly bi-directional, we need to expand, or perhaps even initiate, the conversation about the instrumental benefits of business on the arts.  I see the relationship between arts practices and business practices not to be linearly bi-directional, but rather to be — borrowing a visual metaphor from the great entrepreneurship theorist Joseph Schumpeter, a circular flow. schumpeter flow Schumpeter viewed that as a flow between households and businesses through the markets of resources and products. I use  a more specific metaphor  — that of the Ouroboros, the serpent or dragon eating its own tail, to illustrate the circular flow of arts and business as they feed off one another.


We can view that relationship as devouring… or nurturing, or both, in an endless cycle of renewal, a cycle that Schumpeter described as “Creative Destruction” followed by “equilibriation.”

….more on arts firms and arts entrepreneurship research, practice, and education after the talk next week. Stay tuned.

(Ouroboros by Abake, public domain)

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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7 Responses to Preview: The Ouroboros

  1. Pingback: 2021 becomes 2022 | Creative Infrastructure

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