5 Reasons an Artist Might Need a Greenhouse

By Luann Jennings

Project Manager for Artist Professional Development and Networking

Creative Waco is launching a new, free, six-month program called the Greenhouse. It’s designed to help new arts projects and businesses get the support they need to get started. A short application for the program is due March 1. You can find more information and a link to the application here.

What’s an arts business? We define it as any financial exchange between an artist and a person who will benefit from their creative work. For some artists, the person benefiting is a “gatekeeper” like a gallerist or curator, director or choreographer, music director or venue owner, etc., rather than the public who will directly buy a ticket or work of art. Artists should also view their interactions with gatekeepers as business transactions. 

Embracing this idea might require a shift in thinking. We artists weren’t usually taught to “do business” as part of our training. That’s no criticism of our instructors – they had plenty to do. People who studied accounting probably weren’t taught to run an accounting firm, either.

 At Creative Waco, we think that marketplace skills can just as easily be learned in the marketplace, which is why professional development for artists is one of our three main areas of focus (in addition to public art and arts funding/advocacy). Why are we starting a Greenhouse? Obviously, it’s a metaphor. We’re growing arts businesses, not plants. But artists work in metaphors and I’m betting you can understand and apply it to your creative work.

So what do you see or need in your arts career that could benefit from a Greenhouse?

If you are an artist or creative in any discipline with a passion for a specific project, focus or business you wish to develop, the Greenhouse will help you narrow your vision to transform it from an idea to works in motion (Phase One).

Have you sprouted a concept for your arts-business but are not sure about the next steps? The Greenhouse will help you move forward in making your vision a reality (Phase Two).

The Greenhouse provides Phase One and Phase Two participants with weekly one-on-one coaching and mentoring over the six-month period to ensure you are receiving the necessary support and guidance to grow your business.

By the time your project is ready to be “transplanted,” you can apply for Phase Three of the Greenhouse to “plant” your business locally through advanced training, coaching and, potentially, funding up to $3,000 for your businesses.

1.     Seeds. A seed contains all of the genetic material necessary to make a plant. But, in order to activate growth, it needs to come into contact with water to soften the hard shell), soil to provide nutrients, and the right temperature to prevent stress on the tender seedling.

2.     Sprouts. In the right conditions, the seed will send out both a root and a sprout. The root sustains the plant until the sprout can break through the soil surface and its leaves can start bringing in even more necessary nutrients from light (remember photosynthesis from high school biology?). Now the plant can really begin to grow.

3.     Consistency. The vast majority of seeds and sprouts need similar conditions of water, soil, warmth, and light — consistently applied — whether they will ultimately become flowers, vegetables, herbs, trees, whatever. In fact, it’s hard to tell the difference between sprouts until they’re a few weeks old.

4.     Protection. Outside the greenhouse, a seed might not germinate or a sprout might die due to temperature, wind, critters, or competition with larger. Inside the greenhouse, the seed and sprout have a much better chance of becoming a strong plant ready to survive in a less friendly environment.

5.     Transplanting. Once the plants are large and strong enough, they can be moved to their intended destination. In addition to the work of growing and thriving in their own right, they might get to do another job. A marigold plant gives beauty, a tomato plant gives nourishment, a basil plant gives flavor, an oak tree gives shade and wood for building. Then they replicate themselves through seeds, and the process starts all over again.

Do you have a “seed” of talent and skill, and need the right conditions to start it growing? Has your business idea already “sprouted” and you need protected care to grow it into a successful business? Consider spending six months in the Greenhouse. At the end of the program, some projects will be eligible to apply for “seed” funding.

Get more information about the Greenhouse and apply.

Questions? Contact me at [email protected].

Luann Jennings runs Creative Waco’s Professional Development programs, including the Greenhouse and The Work of Artists, our twelve-hour course in arts business basics. She is also an avid gardener. Go figure.