Maintaining a part- or full-time career in the arts – say as a painter, ballet dancer or sculptor – can be more than challenging, particularly to do so successfully. It’s enough to spend hour after hour taking brush strokes to canvas, doing pliés at a barre or spinning a potter’s wheel.
But artists must also find time not only to promote themselves, but more importantly, to sell their talent. That is the intent behind the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI), presented by the Akron Area Arts Alliance.
“This program would be really good for artists who are just starting out or who would like to have some professional development,” says Courtney Cable, program facilitator for the Akron Area Arts Alliance (AAAA).
The thrust of the eight-day AEI is to provide a business training program to media, performance, visual, literary and media artists.
“Each night we have different presenters whom we’ve connected with being really great at [in their field],” Cable says. “We targeted individuals who are either artists or business people who work with artists or understand the artist’s minds.”
This year’s program is the second of it’s kind. AAAA first launched it in 2013.
Program participants will have an opportunity to experience several sessions and presentations, many given by top local artistic talent.
“We tapped into the best of the best,” asserts Cable.
Sessions and presenters include:
- Exploring Priorities, Personal Needs, Establishing SMART Goals, Identifying Success Factors, by Karen Starr, interior designer and co-owner of Hazel Tree Interiors
- Making the Sale, by local developer Tony Troppe
- Howard Parr, executive director of the Civic Theatre, will teach an 80-minute session titled Raising Capital
- Defining the Product or Service and Pricing Overview and Practice sessions will be conducted by local artist, gallery and studio owner Claudia Zeber-Martell
AEI participants will also have a one-on-one session with an attorney. Other topics being presented include marketing strategies, civic engagement and communication strategies.
The curriculum for AEI, an established program that’s “been very successful” throughout Ohio, was developed by the Cleveland-based Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), which “is an excellent organization,” says Cable.
The relatively low cost, just $100, is offset by AEI sponsors, the Hudson-based Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the Akron Community Foundation.
There’s no age restriction for AEI. Cable says a 13-year-old girl was registered by a relative, who described the girl as having “an entrepreneurial spirit.”
“I thought, ‘If Justin Bieber can do it at 13, then why can’t someone here,'” Cable recalls. “Having this type of knowledge at that age can be really transformational.”
An artist, singer, songwriter herself, Cable says artists are so busy focusing on their craft and what they’d like to do as an artist that they may forget there are options and folks out there to help them achieve.
“Artists need to take steps away from what they’re doing and who they are” she says. “They may not realize they need something or they could be struggling, and that there may be someone out there who can help.”
Reaching out to an accountant or a lawyer versed in intellectual property law, for example, can be quite beneficial for artists, Cable furthers.
And as with many other vocations, individuals must be diverse in order to be more marketable.
One AEI presenter told Cable of a potter she knew who wanted to create high-end pieces and forgo making basic pottery such as mugs or bowls.
“How are you going to eat?” said the presenter to the potter, as told to Cable. “You need to diversify yourself as an artist in order to make money and have the ability to do what you want.”
Classes will be held April 13-16 and April 20-23, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market Street. As of this writing, about half of AEI’s 40 seats are still available.
Deadline to register is April 9. For more information or to register, call AAAA at (330) 376-8480 or visit their web site.