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Symposium paves way for venture creation in the arts

¡Habla! AZ
May 07, 2015

ASU doctoral student Kristi Bradford is putting a new spin on the historically stale high school science-education flick by turning the genre upside down.

She wants to give the films an engaging fictional story line to capture the imagination of students, but to really make it work she needs money.

“Usually there are only two options to make an arts idea sustainable,” Bradford said. “The first is a government grant, and that’s not very reliable. The other idea is to engage a business, company or organization and make them a part of your audience.”

The fourth biennial Symposium on Entrepreneurship and the Arts aims to do just that. The two-day event starts on May 8 at Arizona State University's Tempe campus Memorial Union.

Hosted by the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship, in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and presented in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bolz Center for Arts Administration, the symposium will explore processes, outcomes and impacts of new venture creation in the arts through hands-on workshops, pitch sessions and research presentations. Student ventures and research such as Bradford’s will be showcased in special sessions.

The symposium will be anchored by two keynote speeches from Ruby Learner, CEO of Creative Capital, and Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“Art, like science, is a way of understanding and knowing the world,” said Linda Essig, director of the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship. “Artists create new knowledge through their practice, and we teach them how to generate business so artists can sustain themselves.”

Essig said the program paves the way to the future of the arts by investing in student innovation and creativity, supporting arts education and undertaking entrepreneurial activities and research. That is achieved through classes, investment in and support for student-initiated arts-based ventures, public programming, speaker programs and workshops.

“One of the goals of the symposium is to get students, professors, artists, heads of corporations, the arts policy community together in one room and start talking about new venture creativity,” Essig said. “Pave can help student artists reach an audience for their work. We feel the expected return on investment is more great art.”

Elisa Gonzales, a Herberger Institute performance-arts graduate student, started ¡Habla! AZ last October thanks to Pave. The organization contributed $5,000 to get her Latino youth theater program off the ground. Gonzales said ¡Habla! AZ held an eight-week pilot program and mask-making workshop at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix and participated in last month’s El Puente Theatre Festival & Mask Procession at the Tempe Center for the Arts. She recently filed as a non-profit business and hopes to expand programming in 2015.

“I received a lot of great business ideas on how to develop a successful business model, how to seek private funding through in-kind services and sponsorships and how to market myself,” Gonzales said. “We hope we’re able to grow our organization, thrive and give back to our community.”

Since its creation in 2006, Pave has helped develop 37 arts-based ventures and helped launch pilot programs or businesses. This year six artists – ranging from music and dance to films and gaming – will present their arts-based ventures.

Registration is required for the event. The cost is $125 for the general public; $105 for presenters; and $50 for ASU students. The fee covers all events on May 8 and 9, including a light breakfast and lunch both days.

For additional details about the symposium or to register, visit the Pave website at and click on "public programming."