Arts Entrepreneurship — Two Curricular Tracks

So I’m in the final planning stages for my course in Arts Entrepreneurship (starts March 30), and I have come to the conclusion that I will teach and present materials and activities in 2 different tracks: those for the social entrepreneur, and those for the traditional one. 

I’m particularly taken with Peter C. Brinckerhoff’s definitions of these 2 categories.  “Social entrepreneurs are people who take risk on behalf of the people their organization serves.  Traditional entrepreneurs take risk on their own behalf, or on behalf of their company’s stockholders.”  (Social Entrepreneurship, The Art of Mission-Based Venture Development, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000)

My sense, in talking to my students is that they are thinking along the lines of Brinckerhoff’s social entrepreneur.  (I, myself, had to clear up confusion between social entrepreneur and cultural entrepreneur, which I found has a different connotation).  But of course some of them envision creating new ventures. 

I look forward to processing these new ventures, as my ongoing concern is that these ideas are highly personalized and not in the slightest market-driven. 

In addition to Brinckerhoff’s book (which also includes extensive material about new venture creation), I will be using Entrepreneurship, 2nd ed.,  by William Bygrave and Andrew Zacharackis, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011.  I reviewed just about every text-like book out there and found this one accessible and directly useful.  There is considerable overlap between the 2 books, but the explanations in 2 different “languages” will be useful.

And understandably my first thoughts regarding a final project were to create a new venture with a soup-to-nuts business plan, but I am now reconsidering this as a blanket project.  Gary Beckman’s thoughts about what arts students need in regard to entrepreneurial thinking have stuck with me.  He recommends expansive exercises, e.g. (my words, not his) exploration into arts areas outside of one’s experience, deep dives into the arts and culture policy worlds, testing one’s ideas in multiple venues, etc. 

It may just be that my very talented student who wants to start his own dance company will benefit more from these exercises that hunkering down and creating a business plan for his dream entity. 



About the author

James Undercofler

Jim has been a Professor at Drexel University since May, 2009. His previous appointment - since August, 2007 - was as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim was Dean of the Eastman School of Music from 1997 to 2007. He has played a prominent role in musical arts and music education throughout his career. Before joining Eastman in 1995 as associate director for academic affairs and professor of music education, he was an active, performing chamber musician as well as first horn in the New Haven Symphony. Jim serves as board president, American Music Center; advisory board member, Arts Education Policy Review; board member, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York State Association of College Music Programs and American Symphony Orchestra League, and is a founding member, NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools and Mercury Opera of Rochester.

Read James Undercofler's blog [l=]here[/l].

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