CBA Teaches Student Artists to be Entrepreneurs

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The College of Business is helping BGSU art students gain an understanding of the business side of art through an art entrepreneurship class.  The class is an offshoot of the entrepreneurship minor, offered through the College of Business Administration to students from any major. 

Museums, art galleries and now zoos are monuments to artists, their talents and their ability to make things happen. An article in Inc.com asked the question: “Who is more entrepreneurial than an artist? They have new ideas. They meet resistance. They have to mobilize support. Half the time they don’t even know if they are going to succeed.”

BGSU alumnus and Medici Circle President Tim Smith ’65 had been concerned that many of the students graduating from the School of Art – even with their great talent – were going home to paint their parents’ garage and sleep in their basement for an extended period of time.  “They didn’t have any idea how to price their products, how to market it, how to account for it, how to network, etc.” Smith said.

When he suggested the idea of tailoring an entrepreneurship class for students in arts, the idea was applauded, but not without some obstacles. He was told it would take about $20,000 to develop and teach that curriculum for the first time. Smith met with Susan Conda, a friend and Medici Circle colleague, to seek ideas for finding sponsors for the class.  She had to go no further than her parents, Joseph and Judith Conda, to find the support for the pilot project. They have been longtime supporters of BGSU, with Joseph serving as a member of the BGSU Foundation Board and the two of them supporting such initiatives as Literacy in the Park and a caseworker for the counseling center.

This idea resonated especially with Judith Conda, who had seen a similar project started at the Toledo School for the Arts, where she sits on the board. “I had seen how successful it was for the TSA students,” Conda stated, “that I thought it would be a valuable idea for arts students at BGSU.”

“We were inspired by the concept and thrilled to be a part of getting the idea started there,” she said.

“We love collaboration and supporting programs that impact students,” Conda added, which is why the initiative between the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Art and the College of Business Administration was a natural fit for their philanthropy.

“What a wonderful way to teach the breadth of the world and the opportunities that exist for artists who know how to think and act like entrepreneurs,” she continued.

The first Arts and Entrepreneurship class, offered in Spring 2015, was taught by Kirk Kern, Director of the Dallas-Hamilton Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Dr. Gene Poor, Hamilton Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship. Beginning with the premise that art students possess unique and marketable skills, the course helped students recognize and pursue opportunities in the burgeoning creative economy.  They introduced 30 students to the planning, execution and maintenance of arts and arts-related ventures. Encouraged to see themselves as “entrepreneurial artist-citizens,” students were shown step-by-step approaches to starting business ventures that produce and sell products, or provide creative services.

Student feedback indicates the class was a hit. Chloe Cinibulk, a senior BFA three-dimensional studies major, exclaimed, “Arts and Entrepreneurship was by far one of the best, most helpful and insightful classes I have taken at BGSU.”

Senior Daniel Krentz added, “It should be required for all School of Art students.”

Student demand for Art and Entrepreneurship is so high that the School of Art and the College of Business plan to offer a section of the course again in the spring semester of 2016.

A similar course is being offered for students in the College of Musical Arts this fall. “Entrepreneurship transcends all majors and I hope to offer a similar course in all of the colleges in the future,” Kern stated.