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Aruba, October 17, 2014 - (This post is a part of the Artistic Innovation blog salon curated by Caridad Svich for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas). “My second conclusion is that attributes of creative individuals and attributes of entrepreneurs are so similar that even attempting to define a set of predetermined characteristics is a futile exercise.” (Bygrave & Zacharakis The Portable MBA for Entrepreneurship) Arts Entrepreneurship has been widely spoken about in many circles. No doubt by now, we have all heard about the Arts in relation to Entrepreneurship. So, what is it, how do we do it and who benefits? In its crudest form, arts entrepreneurship is about earning a 21st century living from one’s art. Philosophically, the term is about how art can impact audiences and communities. For artists, it is about manifesting the empowerment creative autonomy promises. The premise is simple: artists possess the temperament and skills to not only act entrepreneurially, they can receive the same benefits as any entrepreneur. The purpose of this article is to briefly explore how, as creative professionals, we not only possess the skills to make an entrepreneurial living with our art but that we may have a responsibility to ourselves and those that follow to take responsibility for changing how we manifest our Art as professionals. Some might deem this a “call to action” and that is exactly what this article suggests.

Shared, Embedded and Honed Skills Theatre – as a discipline, Art form, industry and community – can lead the way in this emerging discipline of Arts Entrepreneurship as it exists both in higher education and professionally. The training we undertake is (perhaps without most participants’ knowledge) preparing us for a possible life as an entrepreneur. Most in the business of theatre begin in acting class. Acting is the window into the industry and from there, many either leave the industry, continue acting or find new talents, passions and interests like directing, writing, producing, designing, and all other aspects of theatre and roles within its process. In theatre training, we do not learn just acting, but we explore front of the house to the back of the house. We do practicum that requires hanging lights, we sell tickets, answer phones on occasion, build and strike sets. We do it all. We don’t just play one role, we make Theatre. “Entrepreneurs” do the same thing; they just make “Business Theatre” – the overarching premise in Pine and Gilmore’s 2011 tome, The Experience Economy.

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