Cultural Entrepreneurship Initiative

Transforming Art & Artists in the Age of Digital Media

The 21st century has experienced a transformation in the professional responsibilities of the performing artist, changes already underway but quickened by economic turbulence and disruptive technologies. This shift calls for a transformation of pedagogy to complement and enhance the studio and classroom that embraces entrepreneurship and project-based learning to prepare the next-gen performing artist who must possess both the skills needed to amplify their artistry and the imagination necessary to reach audiences, old and new. In some ways this shift in thinking is simultaneously a return to the methods of music history’s celebrated pioneers, who are famous for their creative powers but whose day-to-day work was of hustle to make a living while making a difference. Even Mozart and Beethoven had to pay bills and did so through performing, teaching, and curating performances in addition to creating triumphant musical compositions.

TLTC funding through the Cultural Entrepreneurship Initiative will spark four initiatives: 1) a series of entrepreneurship mini courses, 2) an arts business speaker series and related podcasts, 3) a student-run record company learning experience, and 4) a venture competition and idea incubator to provide funding, mentoring, and practical support to U-M students to help realize their artistic visions. The goal of this training is two-fold: 1) to develop skills and knowledge of best practices to enable cultural entrepreneurs to bring their artistry and ideas to the world and 2) to nurture the habits of mind necessary for artists to succeed today. This TLTC initiative will be part of a broader assessment of arts entrepreneurship training and has already resulted in the creation of the SMTD EXCEL program.

Project Team

Sara Billman, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Susan Booth, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Mark Clague, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Jason Corey, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

David Jackson, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Melissa Levine, University Libraries

Christian Matijas Mecca, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Jeremy Peters, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Robert Swedberg, School of Theatre, Music and Dance

Cynthia Kortman Westphal, School of Theatre, Music and Dance