FA 360 - Entrepreneurship in the Arts

College of Fine Arts
The University of Texas at Austin
Gary Beckman, Instructor



To come to an individualized understanding of "entrepreneurship" and the creation of new arts ventures. To allow each student an opportunity to envision a career in (or related to) the arts based upon their individual temperament.

Course Information

Course Title: Entrepreneurship in the Arts
Credit Hours: 3
Time: TTH 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: DFA 2.204

Instructor Information

Instructor: Gary Beckman
Office Location: FAL 1.103b - Fine Arts Career Services
Office Hours: TTH 4 - 6 p.m.
email: archlute@mail.utexas.edu

Course Philosophy

Entrepreneurship has been defined in many ways over the past 200 years. Typically, it describes the creation of new business ventures as an observable phenomenon. In the last two decades, however, entrepreneurship has transcended the bounds of business textbooks by becoming a synonym for progressive thought in a myriad of realms.

What has transpired in these last two decades is an understanding that entrepreneurship is a paradox; definitions are many and knowing exactly what entrepreneurship "is," is far from complete. Even with this uncertainty, entrepreneurship is emerging as an empowering philosophy in many aspects of western culture. Society is searching for new ways of thinking and entrepreneurship is the preferred method of change. It would be an understatement to say that these are exciting times for the entrepreneur -- and it is my hope that you are excited about the class.

Please note that this is not a business course -- though aspects of "business" are covered. Rather, it is premised on the idea that entrepreneurship is a series of individually negotiated moments that have consequences over time. This negotiation results from a tension between internal and external forces. Thus, in this class, we will not attempt to define entrepreneurship other than the description above. We will, instead, attempt to understand the forces that lead us to an entrepreneurial path.

In the arts, this is a potent proposition. Instead of simply "buying in" to the notion of a business-based perception of the term, together, we will explore the individual power of entrepreneurship in the context of the arts and an arts-based career.

The course will consist of three modules: Personal engagement, the practical issues required to become an independent arts professional and the context of that arts-based career. CAVEAT EMPTOR: Due to the length of this class, I cannot cover every topic in detail but I have designed assignments that will augment your understanding of the topics.

The purpose of this class, both in organization, content and delivery is to explore the possibilities of entrepreneurship as a career/life option. Together, we will identify the intersection of the arts, arts culture, entrepreneurship and the individual to provide a practical and meaningful guide to creating a professional career in the arts. The goal is to equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve success based on your temperament, skills and desire.

Course Competencies

There are three sets of objectives for this course.The first is the development of intellectual and personal skills:

  • To establish an entrepreneurial perspective that will serve you over your lifetime.
  • To demonstrate how your innate creativity, intellect, training, and experience can be channeled to an arts (or arts related) career.
  • To demonstrate the risks, rewards, satisfaction and power inherent in an entrepreneurial lifestyle.

A second set of objectives concerns basic business and typical professional skills critical to developing an arts career:

  • A general understanding of for- and non-profit business structures
  • A basic knowledge of marketing and communications
  • A basic understanding of what is expected of a professional artist in the marketplace

The last set of objectives outline out a broader set of skills.

  • A basic understanding of the context of the Arts: Arts culture, policy and management
  • How economic, political and world events affect Arts culture and the individual artist.
  • How markets are shaped by the arts, behavior and perception
  • The challenges that face the Arts: audience development, financial support, popular culture, perception, etc.
  • Successful practices in popularizing the Arts



  • To allow each student an opportunity to explore the feasibility of a self chosen arts or arts-related venture. (This may include: Starting a gallery, studio or museum; selling your art on-line; creating a theater company or other methods to produce theater productions; a teaching studio; a community-based theater, gallery; music venue; music ensemble; publishing a collection of poetry etc.). This venture could be your dream job, an interest or a talent you possess.
  • The scope of the venture has no bounds and is limited only by you. The instructor, however, must approve each venture.


  • This class is about making these arts ventures -- and perhaps your dreams - a reality through classroom community building. Thus, all assignments, readings and discussions have been chosen with this goal in mind. We will be developing these ventures both as a community and as individuals.


  • Principles of Intellectual Entrepreneurship will guide this class. Each aspect of your venture should reflect those eight core ideals.


  • The class will be organized into three groups based individual interest. Group 1 will focus on the creation of an arts venture. Group 2 will create an arts venture but will also participate in some requirements of Group 3. Group 3 will focus on the creation of an arts-related venture.
  • Once you have chosen, you cannot change your mind. You can change the trajectory of your choice but not the group. Caveats to that choice will be discussed.
  • To further clarify, you are self-selecting your group. The selection process should consist of the four scenarios listed below. If your desires do not match what is listed, please see me.

Note: These descriptions are examples only. Again, there should be four choices.

  • An Arts Student wishes to develop a mechanism to sell art -- Choose Group 1
  • An Arts Student thinks art is for the birds and wants to see what the rest of the arts world is about. Perhaps you are interested in non-profits, how philanthropy operates, how to get money, etc -- Choose Group 2
  • A non-Arts Student wants to see if their dream of being an artist can really become a reality after (for example) having a "real" job, pursuing a different scholarly discipline for a few years or, life has simply put the dream on hold -- Choose Group 2
  • A non-Arts Student who has no interest in developing an arts-based venture with the class but would like to assist those who are on that track. -- Choose Group 3

Major Projects:

  • Each group has three unique major projects and each comprises 20% of your grade.

Group 1: 3 Class presentations of your arts venture

Group 2: 1 Class Presentation of your arts venture, 1 Research project and the option of either: presenting for a second time or being a part of the Consulting Project.

Group 3: 1 Research Project, 1 Consulting Project, 1 Class presentation of your arts-related venture.

  • Note for all groups: The final class presentation will require a 10-20 page feasibility study in addition to your performative skills.
  • Note for Group 3: An arts-related venture is one that participates in and affects the Arts. Examples are: Creating an Arts "Think Tank" that develops new policy avenues for audience development, fancying yourself as a state legislator and proposing an effort that funds Arts organizations, developing a local festival that highlights an indigenous art, developing a venture capital fund or "angel network" for local artists, developing a program that archives local art practices and creating a mechanism to expose these practices to a wider audience, fund a study that examines the effect of Art on a localized society.
  • Additional note for Group 3: Any arts-related venture MUST BE as "entrepreneurial" as your colleagues from the other groups.

Course Pedagogy

  • Readings - By completing the assigned readings, preparing for each class and actively participating in discussion, you will sharpen your analytical skills and learn from your colleagues.
  • Expression - Writing is as much a creative outlet as it is a process -- much like any art. For some, writing is a difficult and tedious task. However, all professionals are called upon to write more than you may imagine. Now is the time to engage with this creative act while the resources are at your disposal.
  • Classroom Lectures - Lectures are designed to not only to transfer information, but also to stimulate conversations concerning ideas, concepts and scholarship. The collective intellectual skills and experiences of each class member are valued, valuable and valid.

Student Expectations

  • I expect you to attend all class meetings. If you must be absent because of illness or an unavoidable problem, notify me in advance and talk with me in person at the next class session. Absences will be excused at the discretion of the instructor. Each unexcused absence will result in the dropping of one-third of a letter grade from your final grade. (e.g. 1 unexcused absence B+ to B; 2 unexcused absences B+ to B-; etc.). An unexcused absence can be removed by an additional homework assignment limited to two absences.
  • You must turn in all assignments and arrive to each class on time.Unless you provide a convincing explanation before an assignment is due, I will subtract a letter grade for each day an assignment is late.
  • Passion and commitment are crucial to all entrepreneurial ventures.I expect you to intellectually engage with complex conceptions of art, the self and the context of these two ideals. By embracing the questions posed by this class in addition to the more mundane aspects of arts and business culture, I hope that this class will fire your imagination, creativity, intellect and most importantly, your passion and belief in the art you create and experience.

Course Requirements

  • Major Projects (Group Dependent): Feasibility Study, Class Presentations, Research Study, Consulting Project
  • Homework: There will be no more than 5 assignments throughout the semester.
  • Class Participation: Personal engagement with all topics is key to your success in the class.
  • Textbooks: Richard Florida, "The Rise of the Creative Class" -- Additional texts may be required.
  • Tests and quizzes: None

Course Grading Policies

3 Major Projects - 60%; Class Participation - 20%; Homework - 20%; TOTAL: 100%

A 100%-90%, B 89%-80% C 79%-70% D 69%-60% F <59%

General Course Schedule -- (subject to change)*

Week of Topics


Introduction to Class

9/4 -- Module I -- Personal Engagement

"What is Entrepreneurship?" | Replication vs. Innovation


The Entrepreneurial Mindset, Individual Explorations & Evaluations

9/18 -- Module II -- The Status Quo

Professional Development Topics


For-Profit Structures| Feasibility Study Outline


For-Profit Structures (cont.)


Non-Profit Structures, Grantsmanship


Arts Marketing


Macro & Micro Economic Factors Effecting Ventures

10/30 -- Module III - Context

Arts Culture


Arts Policy | Arts Management


Geographic, Market & Competition Analysis

11/20- Presentations

First Presentation | No class - Thanksgiving


Student Selected Topics | Second Presentation


Student Selected Topics | Third Presentation

* Each group will receive a separate schedule outlining when their specific assignments are due.

UT Policy on Scholastic Dishonesty

Students who violate University rules on scholastic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary penalties, including the possibility of failure in the course and /or dismissal from The University. Since such dishonesty harms the individual, all students, and the integrity of The University, policies on scholastic dishonesty will be strictly enforced.

"Scholastic dishonesty" includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, collusion, falsifying academic records, and any act designed to give unfair academic advantage to the student (such as, but not limited to, submission of essentially the same written assignment for two courses without the prior permission of the instructor, providing false or misleading information in an effort to receive a postponement or an extension on a test, quiz, or other assignment), or the attempt to commit such an act. (from General Information 2002-2003, Appendix C, p. 180).