2017 Finalists

This year, the nominations for the 2017 Arts Entrepreneurship Awards were chock full of amazing and entrepreneurial arts projects. While we forced ourselves to name just five honorees, we also wanted to tip our collective hat to these awesome creative projects that impressed us with their ingenuity, drive, and business savvy.


Liz Jackson, Founder

 

Inclusive Fashion + Design Collective (New York, NY)

Inclusive Fashion + Design Collective is an ecosystem and consulting firm that works to empower design which includes people with disabilities in the fashion world. By working to seed the fashion field with designers with the interest, skill, and capacity to design for all kinds of bodies and abilities, the Collective is addressing the problem of the exclusion of disabled people from fashion at a systemic level.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring arts entrepreneurs?

Keep your eye on the fire.
 
 

Bora Celik, Founder

Jukely (Brooklyn, NY)

Jukely is an app that offers users unlimited tickets to music shows for a monthly subscription of $25/month. The app, which got its start as a concert recommendation engine, gives its members daily access to shows at hundreds of music venues across sixteen cities around the county, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Houston. Connecting a hungry audience of music lovers to the music they love, while transforming a liability into a valuable commodity is a cut-and-dry case of stellar arts entrepreneurship.

What is one piece of advice that you you would give to aspiring arts entrepreneurs?

If you want to pursue your dream, give it your 100%. Don’t do it just as a side project. Stop buying stuff. Reduce your monthly expenses to bare minimum to survive, and get to work. This will put fear of failure into your heart. And that will be a good driving factor towards success.
 
 

L to R: Usha Srinivasan, President and Founder; Priya Das, Program Director

Mosaic America (santa Clara, CA)

Mosaic America, a project of Sangam Arts, is a grassroots movement that aims to build vibrant multicultural communities through arts. From Haitian drumming and Indian classical dance to flamenco and traditional Chinese music — Mosaic America’s curated activities bring together artists and audiences from different communities to create a spectacular cultural mosaic that can only be Made in America.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring arts entrepreneurs?

I believe that just as a business entrepreneur must find a need to address or a problem to solve through a product or service, an arts entrepreneur must find a social context to operate within. An artist’s job is to give expression to emotion and experience. The arts entrepreneur, however, is one who operates at the intersection of arts and community. In my experience, the most successful arts entrepreneurs are those who use arts as a platform to further a social cause — one that benefits a community. So find a cause/community that moves you and then use your art as way to bring stakeholders and constituents together to act.
 
 

L to R: Rafe Offer and Rocky Start, Founders

Sofar Sounds (London, UK)

 

Sofar Sounds is a global movement that brings the magic back to live music by hosting secret gigs in intimate and unique spaces for emerging and developing artists in front of passionate music fans, capturing shows in video and distributing across their channels.

As an international, mostly volunteer-led community, Sofar is about providing authentic cultural experiences and creating a sense of community around people’s love for music in cities all around the world. Sofar’s community — founded on openness, compassion and mutual respect — now spans over 60 countries around the world and runs about 500 shows per month.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring arts entrepreneurs?

If you start with what you love, with your passions, they will eventually become valuable — not just as money (but that helps) but as something that will truly enrich your life and ideally, the lives of others.
 
 

L to R: Tange Danger and Brandon Boat, Founders of Theater of Public Policy

Theater of Public Policy (Minneapolis, MN)

 

The Theater of Public Policy is Minnesota’s favorite (and coincidentally only) civics-inspired improv comedy company. The troupe uses unscripted comedy to bring hard “thinky” issues to life. Since 2011, the cast has tackled everything from healthcare policy to education, the Farm Bill to national politics. Each show is different, but each promises audiences learning disguised as entertainment.

What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring arts entrepreneurs?

Present yourself and your work with the professionalism they deserve. I’ve seen too many great artists struggle or go under-appreciated because they don’t do the work required to sustain and build the business side of their craft. We can’t expect audiences to simply discover our art all on their own, then fall in love with it and us. We must do the work of finding them and meeting them where they are. Be as serious about bringing audiences to your work and your work to audiences as you are about the art itself. You’ll be glad you did.