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Examining Educator Conceptions of Postsecondary Studio-Based Arts Entrepreneurship


This study queried arts entrepreneurship educators about their conceptions of arts entrepreneurship, its pedagogy, and its applicability to studio art majors in the context of traditionally held notions of the hostile relationship between art and commerce. In a problematic labor market for studio art graduates, arts entrepreneurship education promises to address the disappointment expressed by arts alumni about the quality of professional training they received in college. Implementing a qualitative research design, I interviewed sixteen educators who taught or supervised arts entrepreneurship curricula at public or private postsecondary institutions, and I gathered participant syllabi and publically available course information.

Using an inductive process of coding borrowed from grounded theory, I coded the resulting data and organized the findings into three broad themes: ‘conceptions of arts entrepreneurship,’ ‘art and commerce,’ and ‘studio-based arts entrepreneurship.’ This study found that educators conceive of arts entrepreneurship in terms of traditional business concepts but also differentiated entrepreneurial training for artists in significant ways, particularly emphasizing career self-management as a key outcome. Another finding reveals that the tension between art and commerce may not play a significant role in the arts entrepreneurship classroom, but that studio art majors still struggle with the process of pricing their work. Finally, my participants made it clear that they do not serve studio art majors as a unique subculture, but feel that their existing curricula is more than adequate to address their needs.

My study contributes to a growing body of literature in a field that is still wrestling with common definitions and theoretical frameworks for arts entrepreneurship, and addressed a specific gap in the literature on studio art majors as a distinct subculture. I provided empirical evidence to support Chang and Wyszomirski’s key framework for arts entrepreneurship and for future researchers to further explore questions of territorial silos between arts entrepreneurship education, career services, and disciplinary art education.

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