When Arts and Enterprise Collide – Creating an Artists Residency

It’s the first in a series of meetings that have been scheduled between VISUAL Carlow and the Enterprise & Research Incubation Campus (ERIC) at IT Carlow.  The aim of these meetings is to development of a new artistic residency which will be based at the ERIC Center. VISUAL Carlow in partnership with the ERIC at IT Carlow will be working together to develop a blueprint for an artist residency that will explore the correlation between Arts and Entrepreneurship. This residency will form part of the THRIVE Project, a multifaceted research project currently being produced by VISUAL as part of the Arts and Humanities Enterprise Hub (AHEH) Project. An Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance funded project that brings together 14 partners from 7 European countries to improve the entrepreneurial capacity of Arts and Humanities students. The Thrive project will use several modes of enquiry to uncover emerging entrepreneurial practice within the Arts in Ireland.  Part artist residency, symposium, world cafe, online resource and publication the THRIVE project has been developed within the wider frame work of the AHEH Project.  The ambition of THRIVE project is to expand the discourse on entrepreneurship, especially within the context of artistic practice within Ireland, by investigating entrepreneurship from the perspective of the artist in order to generate new knowledge within this field.

During this initial meeting members felt it was nessessary to unpack the word ‘entrepreneurship’, especially within the context of artistic practice and the arts in general. This was in response to the findings of a contextual report published by the AHEH project titled “Research findings: an investigation into European entrepreneurial support for arts and humanities students and graduates”. The report uncovered several findings with regards to why arts and humanities graduates we’re reluctant to consider their practice within the context of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Firstly, many arts practitioners had a negative attitude to business start-up (Report references 3.1, 3.3.3, 4.4.4). And secondly, Arts and Humanities students often view entrepreneurship as divergent from their creativity and are subsequently less likely to consider setting up their own business or view employment as a means to support non-commercial art practice via a portfolio career (5.1. fig 11, fig 12). The group discussed the use of the term, its negative connotation with regards commerce and financial value.

Members at the meeting also discussed the possibility of exploring a shared language situated somewhere in the space between the lingua franca commonly used in both Arts and Entrepreneurship. One member commented “an artist may be willing to engage with entrepreneurship as a creative practice that is aligned with their own artistic practice if there was a common language shared between both.  What would be the advantages of using a language that focused on ideas of mapping, interrelationships, connecting, building eco-systems, sculpturing and assembling?”. The group was interested in this approach as a means of breaking down the barriers and negative associations that artists have with regards to enterprise and the term entrepreneur.

Another member also explained that entrepreneurship is very much a multi-disciplinary practice that focuses on “impact rather than the old system of input/output.” This shift in focus from a value system that centers on financial gain to a system the centers on impact might also be a starting point for exploring this space between arts and enterprise.

These points will be explored and expanded upon in our next meeting, more to come………

At this stage in its development the THRIVE residency aims to create an environment were a shared language between the arts and enterprise can emerge, with the aim of breaking down any stereotyping or barriers that divide each of these areas. This call for residency will unlock the potential between the two spheres and explore the inherit methodologies that support both of these practices in order to empower and support a new generation of emerging artists.

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