The Business of Art

What are the skills an artists needs to be successful in today’s economy? Is it enough to possess innate creative talent or technique? How does an artist take a creative idea and put it into an action plan that will be sustainable? How do we foster creative innovation so Atlanta does not bleed artists to other cities?

Three years ago, I met up with Kamal Sinclair at a local pub in Decatur. We were connected through a mutual colleague, Adam Natale of Fractured Atlas. Adam thought we should meet. I trust Adam’s opinion, so Kamal and I met. Kamal is an artist, an MBA grad and collaborator on many successful projects. Kamal knows the challenges artists face on the business end. At the time, we knew of a few organizations who were offering business training to artists. Some were regional or national. I wanted to create an affordable business seminar for artists in the Atlanta area.

Kamal Sinclair created the curriculum for Fractured Atlas, Entrepreneurship in the Arts: the art of self promotion. Her course guides students through the process of creating a business plan. Not only was I impressed with the content of the curriculum, I really was struck by Kamal’s intelligence and charisma. Being in grad school at the time, I got stuck in a few online courses. I tried to avoid them as much as possible. Why? Because we learn in social situations. That is what I envisioned for this class: an incubator of creative ideas combined with a framework to take those ideas and put them into action. Creative action. I want artists from different disciplines to learn together, support one another…and, yes, even fail together only to rise together. After all, planning a strong business means learning from mistakes. Kamal shares this vision. Kamal is not so much an “instructor” as she is a facilitator. The EIA is a safe class for artists to delve into ideas, gain peer feedback, and then mold those ideas into a business plan.

Three years later, Kamal and C4 Atlanta are about to offer Entrepreneurship in the Arts (EIA) for a third session in one year. To add to our commitment to help artists reach sustainability, C4 Atlanta is a participating community partner of the Kaiser Permanente Bridge Program. The program is uniquely designed to help uninsured, income-eligible members obtain health care coverage for a low monthly charge for up to 24 months. Part of our obligation as a KP Bridge Program community partner is to offer this health care program in conjunction with professional development. Kaiser is therefore offering this program only to individual members of C4 Atlanta who have completed or are actively enrolled in our Entrepreneurship in the Arts class. ALL community partners offer some form of career advancement or financial stability training, with the 24 month subsidized insurance. The EIA seminar is full of content and moves quickly. Participants are expected to contribute by completing assignments and being prepared for a final presentation at the end of the course.

There are many reasons artists leave Atlanta. A 2003 study conducted by Ann Markusen and David King of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Affairs revealed a major reason artists leave a large metropolitan area: lack of opportunities for artistic growth – both aesthetically and with regard to honing business skills. C4 Atlanta is a new service organization. We don’t have all the solutions to the problems and challenges facing our creative economy, but with the help of members, donors and you we can get there. We really can. If you are interested in our class, visit our website. The next round of classes are scheduled for Wednesdays, July 27, 2011 – August 31, 2011, 10 am – 1 pm OR 6 pm – 9 pm. We only have 15 slots per class. If you would like more info about the class or any of our other services, feel free to contact me: Jessyca@c4atlanta.org.

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