Event Spotlight: Artist as an Entrepreneur (AEI)

AEI and the importance of the fundamentals of being a creative

by Floco Torres

There was a time when being an artist basically meant you were poor and afraid of getting a “real job.” Over time, we’ve learned that this isn’t widely true (I don’t want a “real job”) and that in the world of entrepreneurship, being an artist or a creative and being an entrepreneur aren’t as different as they may look on paper. The challenge with each, like any glorified profession (athlete, rockstar, trust fund kid, etc.), is that the fundamentals of sustainability are rarely discussed in detail. How does an artist go from freelance to profitability? How does an entrepreneur go from juggling two or three hobbies to turning them into one stable idea?

For the fourth straight year, Summit Artspace will tackle these questions and more with a star studded faculty through the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI).

Summit Artspace will go in-depth with artists through foundational courses in business, finance, marketing and communications. Think of these courses as direct intel from creative soldiers that have gone to war and lived to talk about it. Participants experience a thorough 24 hours of AEI instruction with locally- and nationally-recognized artists and entrepreneurs, leaving with a toolkit of skills and a cohort of collaborators to kickstart their projects. They’ll be learning from instructors like Chris Horne (Our fearless leader here at TDS), Christy Bolingbroke of the National Center for Choreography, Shane Wynn of Shane Wynn Photography, Keeven White of WhiteSpace Creative, Dreama Whitfield and Traci Buckner, Knight Arts Challenge-winning founders of DTVision and more.

AEI must be doing something right because they have alumni who have returned after their first year and this year the Institute will include a special track for alumni that features a nationally-known artist-entrepreneur. Kelvin Arthur, an illustrator and alumni of the course said the program “propelled my ideas and work as an artist into an actual business.” The information he learned and the energy he experienced lit a fire under him to focus on the business aspect of his career. Kelvin now has a studio at Summit Artspace where visitors can see him create and chat with him about his work.

Also this year, Summit Artspace will offer a master class called “A Closer Look.” Like the specific questions I mentioned earlier, this class highlights four areas requested by alumni complete with a keynote speech by John Michael Schert, co-founder of the Trey McIntyre Project in Boise, ID, artist and social entrepreneur at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His expertise on how the creative process can be relevant and valuable to diverse fields from business to civic engagement will lead you right into the microbrew meet-and-greet that follows his speech.

If you’ve felt a standstill with a project you’re currently working on or you have an idea that you don’t know how to start, you should give the AEI course some serious consideration. You could be one or two answers away from finding your path and sprinting down it.

The Full Course will be July 17-20 and 24-27 from 6-9 p.m. A Closer Look will be June 19-20 and 26-27 from 5-9 p.m. All classes will be held at Summit Artspace on East Market, 140 E Market St, Akron. Spaces are limited for The Full Course and A Closer Look so I suggest you be swift. Registration fees are $100 for the full two weeks of The Full Course before June 16, and then $125 after. A Closer Look fees are $25 per day, or $100 for the entire program for non-alumni and $50 for alumni.

Please visit summitartspace.org/aei if you’re interested in learning more about the program and registering.


(Photo from 2015 Artist as Entrepreneur Institute, courtesy of Summit Artspace.)