Arts & Biz chief: "I no longer believe the arts in Britain should be charities"

The Stage, 3/9/11

Arts & Business chief executive Colin Tweedy has called for theatres and art galleries in Britain to consider giving up their charitable status.  Speaking at a seminar organised by the Westminster Media Forum entitled "Arts and Culture - Filling the Funding Gap," Tweedy suggested, as part of a range of provocations for the arts sector to consider, that cultural organisations would be better off operating as co-operatives or social enterprises.  Tweedy said: "I no longer believe the arts in Britain should be charities. I believe they will be stronger, will take better risks and have a better capacity to become the micro-businesses they will have to be -- and some of them major businesses -- if they are co-operatives or social enterprises.  The model of corporate governance is broken. Arts & Business has been as guilty as any of encouraging corporate leaders to be on the boards. When times are fine, it's good. When times are bad, a risk-averseness comes into a trustee board and grips like a cold hand on a throat. We are seeing managements terrorised, marginalised and treated with contempt by trustees.   If we are to grow our cultural sector, we have to radically rethink the charity structures within which we work. Talk to the co-operative building society, talk to the co-operative movement generally, talk to the Social Enterprise Coalition. They believe the charitable laws strangle the cultural sector in these islands." 


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Commentary: Budding arts entrepreneurs must move past nonprofit issues

James Undercofler, blog State of the Art, 3/4/11

[In last week's blog entry about teaching a university course on arts entrepreneurship, I wrote:]

I believe that, as a field, the arts severely lack the imagination and chutzpah to break out of our well-beaten paths and take risks.  If ever there were a time when new ideas and new ventures were needed in our field, it's now.  We look just like we did decades ago: same products, same ideas, same problems.

After digesting the many superb responses to the blog, I spent a lot of time pondering what is really bothering me about the arts entrepreneurship "movement."  I realized that I have been hoping for and imagining.... a place where whole systems are rethought and reconstructed, where fundamental changes, both in substance and thought take place.  I thought (perhaps naively) that I would find something out there that would liberate the arts from their organizational entrapment.  Yes, I found the L3C and the B Corporation, as many others did, but after fleshing them out, they didn't, in my opinion, provide the spark or the grist for artistic liberation.  [Arts entrepreneurs] should not be restricted to organizational design thinking.  All aspects of the arts and how they connect to people must be re-imagined, rethought and recast.  Here is where our efforts in arts entrepreneurship should be focused


Commentary: A college entrepreneurship club helps re-imagine arts enterprise

Mark Clague, US Music Scholar blog, 3/6/11

Arts Enterpriseis a network of extracurricular entrepreneurship clubs, linking business and arts schools across the United States. The longer I'm involved with AE's efforts, the less satisfactory I find simple definitions.  It's easier to define what Arts Enterprise is not. It's not a template or a formula or a structure. It's not about any one theory or any one person. It's not about getting a job, as much as it is about inventing a new one. It is about imagining sustainable ventures in the arts and business and harnessing our very human creativity to make them more effective.  AE's support environment is key, Rather than rules or required programs, Arts Enterprise connects its members with examples of success. These include Amy Bogard and Adam Siemiginowski who created "Drawing Down the Vision" to bring the benefits of visual thinking to corporate strategy and personal discovery.  Entrepreneur Margo Drakos who created InstantEncore to reshape how musicians reach audiences through the web and handheld media. And AE Alums including Chris Genteel, a manager for Google by day and a singer songwriter by night who entertains, educates, and raises money for humanitarian relief efforts around the globe.  As a network of Arts Enterprise chapters on a growing list of campuses, Arts Enterprise shares ideas and best practices from school to school, student to student, doer to doer.   As a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance, I've seen the power of Arts Enterprise as an idea, as the inspiration for students to make something happen -- not at some ambiguous future time, but now.


Commentary: The art of the business model

Andrew Taylor, blog The Artful Manager, 3/8/11

I had the pleasure of providing the opening keynote for the Arts Enterprise Summit in Kansas City last month.  I only do a few keynotes a year. And I try to use the opportunity to more clearly define (for myself, and for others) a vexing issue that seems to need attention. The audience for this event seemed well suited to an exploration of business models in arts and culture. It strikes me that we're talking a lot about business models in the arts, but not saying a lot. So, I thought a slight reframe might help the cause.  The kind folks at Arts Enterprise recorded the talk. I synchronized the audio with my slide deck. I welcome all comments and critiques, as this keynote only a first small effort toward building a better conversation.

            >> You can watch Andrew Taylor's 41-minute presentation online here.

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