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Arts Entrepreneurship Class Progress

–following up on my promise to keep interested readers up-to-date on my class, Arts Entrepreneurship.  Recall that I posed 2 major assignments.  The first of these was to identify an existing arts organization, study it deeply, then pose one expanded program and one new one.  The second of these was to write/create a business plan for a new venture.

For the first assignment students were grouped according to arts interest area (visual arts, literary arts, dance, music, theatre).  For the second assignment students were given the option to work individually or in groups.

The first assignments were presented last week in class and exceeded my already-high expectations.  The ideas were canny and fresh, the plans realistic.  The only area that lacked (understandably because of the secondary nature of the assignment) was feasibility.  In the discussion that followed presentations, it became clear to all of us that arts organizations rarely conduct in-depth and revelatory feasibility studies.  We referenced our work and internship experiences in drawing this conclusion.  I had to admit that I had participated, in fact initiated a number of programs without seriously addressing feasibility

The second assignment took what should have been an expected turn.  I had advised that perhaps students’ greatest need in imagining and forming a new venture would be their lack of knowledge of their chosen field.  This has proven to be so, and as such, in some cases students will not develop a full business plan, but a deep research dive into the field in which they plan to build their plans.

An interesting (and scary) proposal comes from the only team to tackle the final assignment.  They want to form a summer festival site that will feature classical music, drama and theatre.  My first reaction was to say no to this idea, as there are so many of these models now being challenged by changing audience preferences, etc., but then I thought better of it.  In studying existing models, those successful and those less-than-successful, these students will truly learn the many elements involved in entrepreneurship. 

I’ll make one final post on the class — in June, after final projects are presented.


  1. Thanks for keeping us appraised of the class, very fascinating! What sort of rubric are you using to assess feasibility? Any recommended reading? I thoroughly enjoyed the “Cultivating Demand for the Arts” study. Sincerely,
    Chris Teal

  2. Sorry to take so long in responding, but to be honest, I didn’t have an answer to your question about a rubric. As it turns out, each student project has evolved its own characteristic feasibility measure (s). In fact feasibility or market-testing and research turned out to be the most instructive aspect of this class (so far, as next week we finish). I will be publishing some of the student work, which should shed some light on your question. However, the first one that I plan to publish had real challenges in testing feasibiiity.

  3. Very interesting. Looking forward to seeing the projects! I’m going through my own process of deciding whether to form a 501(c)3 or look into a lc3 so I’m sure the projects will shed some light.

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