Recently, dozens of metro Phoenix dancers and art professionals gathered at Mesa Arts Center for Dance Café, a morning of conversations about the local dance scene convened by Julie Akerly, co-founder of a new works development group called [nueBOX].
Through ASU’s Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship, Akerly started [nueBOX]in 2014 with Matthew Mosher, a fellow ASU graduate and artist who now works in Florida. Since then, several arts enterprises have been launched through Pave’s Arts Venture Incubator – including UrbanSTEW and Gray Box Dance Theatre Collective.
Often, the conversations at Dance Café touched on the challenges of being both artist and entrepreneur, a topic that’s relevant for creatives in all disciplines. And it turns out that ASU’s Pave Program offers several tools and resources for artists who are eager to up their entrepreneurial game – including a biennial symposium.
The next Pave Symposium on Entrepreneurship and the Arts takes place May 5-6, 2017, on ASU’s Tempe campus. It’s designed not only for students, alumni, and faculty – but also for other creatives and people who support arts entrepreneurship. The symposium draws people from across the country, says Linda Essig, Pave director and ASU professor.
“Today’s economy necessitates that individuals take more responsibility for their individual success,” Essig says.
But that doesn’t mean they have to go it alone.
The symposium is interactive, action-oriented, and collaborative, Essig says. And there are plenty of opportunities for networking, and exchanging ideas with others. “It’s very different than an academic conference.” About half the people who attend come from outside Arizona, so there’s a good cross-pollination of ideas from different parts of the country.
The 2017 theme is Arts Entrepreneurship In, With, and For Communities. For Essig, the topic is closely tied with creative placemaking, which involves using arts and culture to build and sustain a sense of community.
Pave is accepting proposals for possible presentations through Monday, December 5. Proposals should work for one of three symposium tracks: theory, practice, or pedagogy. Original research, case studies, and interactive workshops will be considered, and application requirements are available online.
Of course, many key components of the symposium are already in place.
Featured speakers include Carlton Turner, executive director for Alternate Roots, and Steven J. Tepper, dean of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Alternate Roots is an Atlanta-based regional arts service organization that supports the creation and presentation of art promoting social and economic justice.
Turner will be talking about power structures in the art world, which Essig hopes will help to draw a more diverse group of symposium participants. “We hope that more people of color attend the symposium this year,” Essig says.
Symposium highlights also include an interactive workshop on the Critical Response Process, an approach to artist feedback developed by dance legend Liz Lerman. It’s being presented by Lerman, one of three artists currently developing the cross-discipline Ensemble Lab at ASU, and John Borstel. Borstel co-authored and illustrated a book about this unique process.
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Becoming an effective arts entrepreneur involves developing both hard and soft skills, Essig says. The soft skills include recognizing your own abilities, then matching them to community needs. The hard skills include budgeting, marketing, and time management. The symposium is designed to help attendees improve both, but Pave also offers an Arizona Arts Entrepreneur Toolkit with practical tips and templates for entrepreneurial creatives.
Several of the dance professionals who attended the recent Dance Café talked during the event about how much they appreciated having the chance to meet and swap ideas with fellow creatives, which is something at the heart of Pave’s upcoming symposium.
“The symposium is a great way to interact and network with people you don’t normally get the chance to meet,” Essig says.
The fifth Pave Symposium happens May 5 and 6 on ASU’s Tempe campus. Learn more or register on the ASU Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship website. Registration ranges in price from $50 for ASU students to $135 for the general public.
Correction: An earlier caption on the first photo noted that Ruby Lerner was pictured. She is not.