I’m often asked the question, so what’s the difference between leadership and entrepreneurship?
On face value, a pretty simple question to answer, but when put in the arts world and higher education contexts, pretty complex.
Leadership implies taking action that positively enhances the arts, which entrepreneurship involves the creation of an enterprise or venture. That’s the simple answer (from my viewpoint). Where it gets more interesting is when it is spun into various contexts.
Within the past several years, as the traditional constructs of the arts and culture sector have shown distinct signs of stress, leadership has taken on the meaning of finding solutions to this apparent problem, almost “lead us out of this dire situation.” True leadership in the arts should seek to not only find new ways to involve the public in the arts, it should also expand the art forms themselves.
So in my quest here to find a working definition for leadership in the arts, I move toward one that is inclusive. Leadership means moving an art form or art forms forward, in society, but also within themselves. Contemporary creative artists exercise leadership just as much as the person who heads up an organization that is engaging audiences in new and exciting ways.
Now entrepreneurship, again in my opinion, must involve the creation of an entity, the venture. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it represents leadership. The creation of a reed-making business may be quite successful and represent a true entrepreneurial effort, but it does not reflect leadership. Guts, yes, but not necessarily leadership.
Entrepreneurship combined with leadership appears to be emerging in the arts, having grown substantially in the social entrepreneurship domain. These potential entities are fun to imagine, but of course, ever so difficult to make real.
As I contemplate teaching leadership and entrepreneurship this coming year, I need to remind myself of the differences among these 3 areas (leadership, entrepreneurship and leadership/entrepreneurship). It’s all too easy to only teach to the third one of these, when in fact it’s the other 2 that must provide the driving force within the arts.