Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thank You AE Network

As we take a break from the craziness of life to spend some much needed time with our families, the AE Central team would like to take a second to thank you, the AE network for all your hard work this holiday season.

Thank you for helping our network grow!

Here is a snapshot of our network by the numbers:
  • 8—Arts Enterprise Chapters
  • 14—People following us on the AE Blog
  • 23—Chapter sponsored AE programs reported this year on our AE Event Form.
  • 83—People following us on Twitter
  • 215—People receiving the AE newsletter
  • 553—People belonging to the Arts Enterprise Facebook fan page
  • 7,950—Unique visits to the AE Homepage since its launch in March of this year.
  • 1—National AE network dedicated to helping YOU create a space at the intersection of business and the arts.
Thank You Claremont Graduate University.

We welcome Claremont Graduate University to the AE Chapter Network. With the addition of CGU, we only have nine chapters left to launch in order to reach our goal of starting ten new chapters by the end of the academic year. Welcome to the AE network Claremont!

We are thankful for new initiatives.
  • 2011 Arts Enterprise Summit—We so thankful that the UMKC chapter will host our upcoming summit set for February 19-21, 2011. We hope to see you there! Click here for details.
  • AEIdeas—We will officially launch AEIdeas at the 2011 summit. The "AEIdeas Innovation Room" will be a conference-wide, interactive session designed to inspire creative entrepreneurship. This event will officially launch our newest national programmatic offering.
  • AE Chapter Challenge—The AE Chapter of the Year Award will be presented to the AE Chapter that has developed a strong membership base, innovative programming, and a meaningful connection on their campus and in their community. Click here for more information.
Most importantly, we are thankful for YOU!

Without YOU, the rapid expansion of our network would simply not be possible. As many of you know, the AE central team exists to facilitate the exchange of ideas between its members. At the end of the day, the AE model has been designed for YOU. We are inspired on a daily basis by the programs you lead in an effort to drive grassroots change on your campus and in your community. In short, we have so much to in which to be thankful.

On behalf of the AE Central team, thank you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

AE Stories—Chelsea Schumann & Ian Wenz

Northern Ohio Music Festival

Today, I spoke with Bowling Green State University Senior Chelsea Schumann. A Bassoon Performance major and Entrepreneurship minor at BGSU, Schumann also serves as the AEBG chapter president. Last summer, Chelsea co-directed the second annual Northern Ohio Music Festival (NOMF) in her home town of North Olmstead, OH along with fellow AEBG member Ian Wentz. The festival, designed to bring local musicians together for a day of performances, featured over 20 musicians and had over 500 people in attendance.

This festival was most impressive because it was conceived, developed and implemented by Schumann in 2009 and it was such a success that she needed to bring on a second director to manage the rapidly growing event. When asked what drove her to work on the festival, Schumann stated, "I love sharing my interest in Arts Enterprise with others and using it as a tool to connect with the community. NOMF has allowed me to know my community on a local level. It's cool to see local friends and family here with their kids to listen to a grassroots, community festival."

When asked about the biggest difference in this year's festival as compared to last years event, Ian Wenz stated, "We have a more eclectic lineup of musicians. Lots of different music is represented, especially folk influenced groups. I think we reached a new demographic because we tapped into a local audience and performers. Reaching out to the North Olmstead community resulted in a greater grassroots feel for the festival."

From a planning prospective, the second year of the festival was much easier. "People now know what the Northern Ohio Music Festival is," said Schumann, adding, "The festival was a lot easier to put together because we knew what resources were available to us and who supported us from the start."

Schumann, who plans on returning to the Cleveland area upon graduation viewed NOMF as a great career building opportunity. She found great value in the networking aspect of co-directing the festival. "Soliciting businesses for support has given me a great opportunity to build my networking skills and it's something that will be especially helpful for me when I return to the area."

The Northern Ohio Music Festival hits at the very core of the Arts Enterprise movement and its values. Arts Enterprise believes events such as the NOMF helps our members become more creative, passionate, and driven. Regardless of the event, the leadership skills developed when you design and implement a program can prove incredibly useful as you prepare to enter the workforce, regardless of your chosen career path.

Speaking on behalf of Arts Enterprise, I would be thrilled if the Northern Ohio Music Festival has inspired you to launch your own community based music festival but we hope the message here is broader in scope. In developing this festival, Schumann took her love of North Olmstead, combined with her love of music and found an opportunity to develop an idea that fused these two passions together.

Have a great program idea yet? In order to help inspire you, I'll leave you with three questions that might enable you to create and lead your own program in the future:
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • Can you think of a time when you were able to combine your passions with your personal strengths?

After you answer these three questions, see how quickly your AE program ideas take shape. If you'd like more information about the Northern Ohio Music Festival, please feel free to send Chelsea an email at

Note: Over the next several months, we will be highlighting several Arts Enterprise members through AE Stories, a behind the scenes look at their work and what inspires them about Arts Enterprise.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Exploring Daniel Pink's new book—Drive

Drive by Daniel Pink

I'm deep into Daniel Pink's newest book, Drive. I highly recommend this book. Check out this video! What do you think? Are extrinsic motivators (I.E.—Carrot/Stick way of doing business) thwarting our ability to be creative? Watch the video, read the book, leave your comments!

Monday, July 5, 2010

What am I doing? Part I: WORK/PLAY

If you know me, you know that I love my life. I have an incredible family and a fantastic job(s). Other than a little debt (ok, a lot of debt) from my college years, I really can't complain.

And yet to those people who still ascribe to the "normal" 9-5 work day, I couldn't possibly be happy. In their eyes, I work way to much and I can't draw the line between my work time and my play time. In fact, on more than one occasion, I've been accused of being a workaholic. Perhaps this accusation is true but in the age of constant connectivity, it's hard not to be a workaholic if you're passionate about life. Let's explore this a little bit.

Here's a section from Seth Godin's latest book Tribes:

How Was Your Day?

It's four a.m. and I can't sleep. So I'm sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Jamaica, checking my e-mail. A couple walks by, obviously on their way to bed, having pushed the idea of vacation a little too hard. The woman looks over to me and, in a harsh whisper a little quieter than a yell, says to her friend, "Isn't that sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he's stuck checking his e-mail. he can't even enjoy his two weeks off."

I think the real question-the one they probably wouldn't want to answer-was, "Isn't it sad that we have a job where we spend two weeks avoiding the stuff we have to do fifty weeks a year?"
It took me a long time to figure out why I was so happy to be checking my e-mail in the middle of the night. It had to do with passion. Other than sleeping, there was nothing I'd rather have been doing in that moment-because I'm lucky enough to have a job where I get to make change happen. Even though I don't have many people working for me, I'm in the business of leading people, taking them somewhere we want to go.

Admittedly, I am in constant conflict with myself about the breakdown between my work life and my family life. This isn't an easy task. The reality is that these two worlds are so blended together that, to me, there really isn't a separation anymore. This doesn't mean that my 8 month old daughter has been showing up to conferences with me or that I've been giving bassoon recitals to my wife on a weekly basis. What this really means is that, from a time prospective, I have been intertwining my work and play in a way that—I hope—provides a seamless transition between my two lives.

Why? Because, my work isn't work at all. It's not even close. My work teaching bassoon, my work with Arts Enterprise and my work performing bassoon are three areas so intrinsically valuable to me that I actually look forward to tackling these jobs every day.

The reality here is that my family does, and always will, come first. If tomorrow I stopped teaching at BGSU, I left Arts Enterprise and I put my bassoon away forever, there would be someone filling my shoes in each case who would do the job twice as well. My family, however, is a different story. They are my first priority and striking that balance between the family I love and the work I love is the key to success.

So, what does this have to do with Arts Enterprise? In short, those of us who embody the AE spirit can be the poster children for figuring out this new work/play continuum. As artists, we constantly toe the line between work and play. This never-ending battle is imperative for ultimate success in our world and it can shed a lot of light onto how non-artistically minded individuals could achieve success in this world. For business people, this way of thinking is especially exciting in the high-paced, start-up, world of entrepreneurship where the lines are easily blurred between work and play.

So, how does this post resonate with your life? Do you see similarities in the work style I've set out to achieve? It would be great to hear from you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of our new Arts Enterprise website. Check it out! This site would not be possible without a partnership with TwistUp Media. For the last year we have worked with owners Kyle and Wes to develop the AE site and we are thrilled with the finished product.

What is interesting here is that we accomplished this with an incredibly small budget. In fact this website was essentially built at no cost to the Arts Enterprise organization. How did we do it? Instead of saying to TwistUp that we want you to build a site for us for free and, in exchange, we will list you as a supporter of the organization, we said this: In exchange for your services we will give you access to our rapidly growing network of chapters, members and supporters. Instead of establishing a four year payment plan for the website, we have given TwistUp the ability to work directly with our chapters as they build their own websites. Additionally, we have provided a way to deliver their services directly to our membership. A membership that we predict will serve close to 1,000 students by the end of the year.

As a person coming from the non-profit sector, it seems to me that we need to think about ways in which we can make our partnerships more mutually beneficial in nature. Techies who volunteer to do this work are amazing people, however they are also strapped by time with their own projects. Further, there is often a lack of understanding on both sides of the aisle in regard to everything from mission of the organization to the effective utilization of the technology itself. Often, it seems that the partners on both sides of the aisle are not considering the menu of services that could be provided as a way to better leverage the partnership. Consider an incredible blog entry by Ayça Akin from In her entry she talks at length about ways Techies and Nonprofits can better work with one another. Here's an excerpt:

These challenges should come as no surprise, since any designer/client relationship has its built-in (if clichéd) limits: Designers are asked to step outside themselves to see the world in a new way, but can never, by definition, be the client or the user. In pro bono projects—as time becomes expensive—paying attention to the unique perspectives of nonprofits is the only way for volunteers to develop sound working relationships toward making social change products effective and sustainable.

Here we have very different people trying to collaborate around a common goal, and points of friction are increased by differences in culture, language and preconceptions about one another. Like so many problems in the world, many of these differences can be overcome by simply trying to understand each other's priorities and world views.

Her blog entry goes on to speak at length about the common issues these partnerships face. I might offer a few suggestions to organizations interested in entering their own mutually beneficial partnership:
  1. Mutually Beneficial Understanding—Take the time to talk at length about your organization. This is not just about your technology needs, this is about explaining your organization to your partner. Then, listen to what they have to offer. This seems all too simple, however it's amazing what this small suggestion can do for your partnership.
  2. Find the Right Partner—It's so important to find a partner who's values align with yours. This will only strengthen the partnership. For us, TwistUp was the perfect fit. They too were a startup entity, they value entrepreneurship and they have an appreciation for the arts. We were aligning with one another practically before the partnership even started.
  3. What's in it for them—Can you, as the non-profit, provide value to the partnership? For example, can you bring three to four good ideas to the table in exchange for the services you're about to receive from the techies? This type of partnership can really help your organization grow.
So, what's missing? What can cash strapped non-profits do in order to continue to generate mutually beneficial partnerships for their organizations?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Arts Entrepreneurship in Schools of Music: What Do Young Musicians Want?

Whether they were aware of it or not, young musicians were an important topic of discussion at two major conferences last month: The College Music Society’s Summit on Music Entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt in Nashville, TN, and the American Orchestras Summit at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.  This demographic wasn’t necessarily written into the conferences’ agendas—and wasn’t proportionately represented in body—but they were certainly the subjects of an unaddressed dilemma in the room.

The dilemma is that young musicians are not getting jobs in their fields, and it’s not a new problem. Recently, however, music schools are attempting to incorporate arts entrepreneurship and career development curricula to address this issue.  Although the dilemma and the proposed solutions focus on young musicians, music students and recent graduates are largely excluded from the discussion.  It’s ironic and disappointing, but few leaders in the arts entrepreneurship movement have considered young musicians’ opinions about this subject.

In an attempt to advocate for young musicians, I attended the two conferences in Nashville and Ann Arbor.  With Kristen Hoverman, flute performance and entrepreneurship major at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), and Jonathan Kuuskoski, recent graduate of the piano pedagogy program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I co-presented the results of a survey that actually asked students and professionals in the arts field their opinions on arts entrepreneurship.  The survey was conducted under the auspices of Arts Enterprise Central, a nonprofit arts entrepreneurship organization of which Hoverman, Kuuskoski, and I are a part.

We surveyed almost 200 students—ranging from undergraduate to doctoral from a variety of music schools nationwide—and over 50 professionals—defined as anyone with an arts degree and included college faculty, freelancers and multiple job holders, to private teachers—looking for responses to four big questions:
  1. What is the correlation between students’ career goals and the realities of the young professional artists surveyed?
  2. Are students aware of and participating in existing arts entrepreneurship offerings on their campuses?
  3. What would students like to learn in regards to arts entrepreneurship?
  4. In what format (i.e. how) would students like to learn about arts entrepreneurship?
Professionals were asked their opinions retrospectively.
The survey results—expressed in quantitative and qualitative terms—pointed towards four big conclusions:
  1. The reality of young professional artists is vastly different from the career for which they are prepared at schools of music.
  2. Results indicated an overall lack of awareness of and participation in existing arts entrepreneurship offerings on college campuses.
  3. Participants want an arts entrepreneurship class that combines lecture- and project-based curricular education with a non-curricular arts entrepreneurship student club.
  4. Arts entrepreneurship education must be flexible and personalized towards the needs and realities of the post-graduate 21st-century artist.
We reached the first conclusion by comparing the degree programs and career goals of the students with the degrees obtained by and career activities of the professionals surveyed.  Of the surveyed students, 67% were in an undergraduate or graduate performance program.  Nearly 100% of student participants wanted performance to comprise the majority of their professional activities.  But when asked to define their careers, not one professional respondent had a career in which they only performed.  One participant performed in just one orchestra, but he also supplemented his income with private teaching.  Thirty two percent of respondents taught at a college level, 18% identified as freelancers, and 20% defined themselves as having multiple jobs, some of which were not in the arts field. 

Students and professionals alike are aware of and concerned about this reality.  The survey question related to post-college anxieties drew four times as many free responses (88 in total) as any other question, emphasizing the fears of young artists entering the professional world.  This student’s response best captures these concerns:

"[I worry] that I won't be prepared for real life as a working musician outside of the school environment, that I will have to give up my artistic pursuits in order to make a living for myself, and that all of the time I spent preparing to be a performer was not time well spent after all."

In the case of professionals, these realities translate to a need for arts entrepreneurship offerings:

"Most music performance students are groomed and prepared only for careers as orchestral players, when in fact very few make a living doing only that. We need to be prepared to understand business, marketing, and community relations to have maximum success in these endeavors."

Although both students and professionals acknowledge that arts students are poorly prepared for the professional world and affirm the importance of arts entrepreneurship, only 46% of students reported having arts entrepreneurship offerings on their campus and 61% reported to have not engaged in these offerings if they were present.  Nearly half of students surveyed didn’t know if their campus had any sort of arts entrepreneurship offering.

Despite these unimpressive statistics, the survey results indicate that 73% of students want to learn about arts entrepreneurship, and 81% of students are willing to take a class on the subject.  Most of these students want a class that allows them to explore arts entrepreneurship in a variety of formats: through lectures, projects, and in conjunction with a non-curricular arts entrepreneurship club.  This format allows students to apply ideas learned in the classroom in a low risk environment in preparation to enter the professional world in which consequences of failure are much higher.

The fourth conclusion, calling for arts entrepreneurship programs to be flexible and adaptable, is probably the most important.  Both students and professionals agreed that arts entrepreneurship education needed to be personalized towards individual students’ needs and that realities of the 21st-century artist must be addressed.  The following two responses, the first from a student, and the second from a professional, reinforce the need for personalized curricula:

"I enrolled in the [Nonprofit management] certificate as part of my doctoral studies so that I can be a stronger teacher, leader, and organizer in the arts.…Many of the classes are inflexible and designed to fit a butts-in-the-seat style of teaching. The teachers cover theory and literature, but are not able to cope with the diverse backgrounds of their students or [their fields of interest]. Entrepreneurship should be more like private coaching so that individual attention can be paid to the specifics of each field."

"Arts Entrepreneurship is thinking outside the box and allowing our students to relate to the music field in new and meaningful ways that may differ from previous generations. As educators, we need to honor the creativity and authenticity of our students and nurture their own development as artists and professionals. We need to serve as mentors that are not just interested in creating clones of ourselves, but rather embrace the new visionary models of what it means to be an artist in the 21st century."

The survey results call great change in collegiate arts training.  Not only do 74% of students and 86% of professionals agree that music schools need arts entrepreneurship programs, but the programs developed must be carefully planned and the student voice must be considered.  We have evidence that students see arts entrepreneurship training as valuable to their careers and professionals are ready to promote relevant ideas to these students.  Finding the ways to do this, however, will be the next great challenge for our music schools.

Emily Weingarten is a community musician and aspiring entrepreneur residing in Ann Arbor, MI.  She is in the process of starting a business to empower young artists called Independent Artists Consulting.  Emily is also the Chapter Development Specialist for Arts Enterprise.  Click here to contact Emily.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Arts Entrepreneurship vs. Creative Entrepreneurship

In recent years, arts programs at universities across the country have begun to utilize the notion of entrepreneurship as a way to help students have more career options upon graduation.

"Entrepreneurship can be defined as the process of creating value by bringing together a unique package of resources to exploit an opportunity."
—Michael Morris.

The concept of Arts Entrepreneurship has been used freely as a "catchall" for student career development. From nuts and bolts classes that help students construct proper resumes to classes that involve the exploration of pure business start-up, Arts Entrepreneurship has yet to become a streamlined concept. I would argue that the study of entrepreneurship on our arts campuses should be focused on helping students harness their creative ideas. In other words, artists have creativity covered, it's taking those creative ideas and applying them to current business practice—in start-up, in the workplace & in entrepreneurial thought—in which our artistically minded students need the most help developing.

For arts students, the term Arts Entrepreneurship may be a little too specific for their needs and many times students find the focus turning back to entrepreneurship through the lens of an artist. Conversely, for business students, the term can be a little intimidating for those who do not consider themselves "Artistic." However, if we take a broader approach and use the term "Creative Entrepreneurship" as a way to define our curriculum, students on both sides of the aisle may be able to engage in a more holistic approach that allows them to work at the intersection of business and the arts.

"Creative Entrepreneurs are individuals who use creativity to unlock the wealth that lies within them. Like true capitalists, they believe that this creative wealth, if managed properly, will engender more [creative] wealth.”
—John Hawkins

Creative entrepreneurship differs slightly from the traditional business entrepreneurship in that it focuses primarily on creative or intellectual capital. Creative entrepreneurs usually establish ventures that have a place in the creative economy and focus on the collaboration of many diverse individuals ranging from varying backgrounds and degree tracks.

Like the traditional business entrepreneur, creative entrepreneurs still go through a process of identifying opportunity, establishing a way to fulfill the need that exists, gathering and managing resources, and harvesting the benefits of the venture. Creative entrepreneurs are leaders, risk takers, and idea generators. They are inspired by advocacy, social change, and the desire to be in control of their own work.

By identifying themselves as "creative beings"—instead of bassoonists, photographers, dancers, etc.—students are able to effectively work within the notion of creative entrepreneurship. Whether students utilize creative entrepreneurship to start a business, think entrepreneurially or enhance their Portfolio Career, this broader approach gives arts students a seat at the table that is our 21st century economy.