When speaking with friends recently, we recalled a few comments we received from arts teachers over the years that centered on assumptions and misperceptions about arts entrepreneurship courses. They included:
There’s a lot to unpack in these comments, and because it’s likely those who teach arts entrepreneurship might participate in similar conversations, I thought it’d be worthwhile to address each of them:
Thinking of this as objectively as I can, I don’t see how the study of arts entrepreneurship could conflict with any arts genre. If anything, it would promote a better understanding of an art through vigorous research and application of considerations not typically taught in arts classes, such as all that goes into creating and delivering art to the world. We’re not asking anyone to change their ideals, but rather to be open to other opportunities and ideas about the many activities involved in the process. If concepts are so fragile that they could be invalidated by the study of a related discipline, it warrants re-evaluation, or at least taking a broader view.
A Value Proposition is Only One Component
Arts Entrepreneurship is not about critiquing one’s art or genre, it’s about helping others understand what it takes to bring their value propositions into the world—and artistic value is only one component. Stating that arts entrepreneurship commoditizes art or reduces it to knickknacks illustrates a misperception of the subject matter. Personally, I go to great lengths to encourage students to avoid commoditizing their art. In any case, it does illustrate the need for clearer communication about what arts entrepreneurship encompasses.
Success is More Than $
It’s a common misconception that “success” is all about profit and revenue. While profit is an important part of any business, we all know people who became arts entrepreneurs because they wanted the freedom to pursue their passion or to positively impact society. We should foster greater student engagement by helping them pursue their ideas of success.
The Only Constant is Change
Regarding the comment that unconventional sales channels could devalue art: For any condition, I like to mentally insert “at this time” into the dialogue because it keeps me optimistic and encourages a malleable mind. E.g., If I’m on a sales call and told “no,” I think of it as “Not at this time.” Other examples of that thinking include “That person is not yet a customer,” or “It’d be great to do “X” but the technology is not yet there,” and so on. It’s a good exercise because context and conditions change. In many disciplines, what was once the norm has shifted as advancements were made. Think of the ways we consume art that didn’t exist 25 years ago! Unconventional often becomes the new normal.
It’s also worth mentioning that in some aspects teachers are in positions of privilege. During Covid, most who worked in the arts outside of academia had their livelihoods decimated… That alone should illustrate the need for all educators in the arts and related fields to make students aware of the opportunities available to them, and to give them the creative problem solving skills needed to work in jobs or industries that have not yet been created. The more we can do to help students understand risk and ambiguity in the arts, and to embrace the “What if?” the better.
Thanks for reading,
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