What's in a Name?

Typifying Artist Entrepreneurship in Community Based Training

  • Paul Bonin-Rodriguez University of Texas at Austin

Abstract

This article deploys the term “artist-producer” to respond to Gary D. Beckman's (2007) call for an effective definition for artist entrepreneurship, one that illustrates the productive work that artists do and counters longstanding romantic notions of artists as creative geniuses who are unconcerned with commerce. Unpacking the term entrepreneur historically and focusing on its troubling relationship to class, race, and gender, even among entrepreneurship scholars, I illustrate how and why many artists still resist the de facto entrepreneur label even as they take what many identify as entrepreneurial approaches. Returning to Beckman's domain of training, though outside of the university setting, I show how a number of contemporary community-based artist training and professional development programs across the U.S. reflect, even nurture, the longstanding artist ambivalence to entrepreneurship even as they fulfill some of its key dynamics; moreover, I note how these programs are creating a very specific approach to entrepreneurship, or entrepreneurs, by training what I call “artist-producers”—artists capable of balancing both their expressive ambitions with their material concerns in strategic ways. Ultimately, the artist-producer designation illustrates what many scholars, artists and arts organizers talk about when we talk about artist entrepreneurship; it defines a type of entrepreneurship that by its very structure acknowledges the nation's weak cultural infrastructure and offers a collaborative, productive, even sustainable way of working for artists.

Author Biography

Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Paul Bonin-Rodriguez is a writer-performer and dancer from San Antonio who has toured extensively throughout the United States. His book, Performing Policy: How Politics and Cultural Programs Redefined U.S. Artists for the Twenty-first Century (Palgrave, 2014), assesses how research and development initiatives since the late 1990s have radically reshaped artistic practices nationwide. Chronicling both historical, paradigm-setting moments and contemporary artist-driven initiatives, Performing Policy demonstrates how "creatives" regularly negotiate market-based and value-based concerns and shows how they may more effectively and ethically pursue opportunities in communities where they work.

His articles appear in Artivate: a Journal of Entrepeneurship in the Arts, Theatre Topics and a forthcoming anthology on New WORLD Theater. His plays have been published in The Color of Theatre: Race, Culture, and Contemporary Performance (Continuum, 2002), Jump-Start Playworks (Wings Press, 2004) and Text and Performance Quarterly.

Currently, he serves as the head of Undergraduate Studies in Theatre and Dance, as well as the director of the Minor in Arts Management and Administration for the College of Fine Arts.

Published
2012-01-01
Section
Articles