ARTIST PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Creative Waco supports artists and arts organizations in many ways. In addition to funding and advocating for the arts (in programs like the Arts Match Program and through social media and the press) and hiring artists (to create public art and other projects), we provide professional development opportunities so artists can grow in their abilities to run sustainable, fulfilling arts businesses.
What do we mean by “arts businesses”?
If you’re being paid directly by a “customer” for your creative work (including gatekeepers like retail stores, galleries, production companies, etc.) rather than paid by someone else who’s dealing with customers…
Whether you’re working with others or on your own (the government calls that a “sole proprietor”)…
In any “fine” or applied arts area (craft, dance, design, film/TV/media, music, photography, theatre, visual art, writing, etc.)…
…you’re running an arts business.
If you’d like to be paid or are expanding the scope of your creative work, our Professional Development programs are for you, too. And we won’t turn you away if you’re wanting to think more creatively about your business of some other type.
Learn more about all of our programs below, and join our email list to be notified about upcoming Professional Development events (be sure to click on “Artist Professional Development and Networking” under “I am interested in.”) Also follow our Professional Development Facebook page (which is separate from the main Creative Waco Facebook page), which includes announcements plus links to interesting, useful, and hilarious material about being a working artist and supporting each other as working artists in Waco.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP ESSENTIALS FOR ARTISTS AND CREATIVES
This free course introduces students to arts business development and coaches them in best practices. Participants watch approx. 20 hours of videos on topics ranging from planning, strategy, customer development, marketing, financial management, legal issues for artists, fundraising, and more; and use writing exercises to explore their unique offers. They collaborate with the instructor and other class members in weekly “Working Sessions” to apply what they’ve learned to developing their business plan. Those who complete the course may apply for the Greenhouse program, our arts business incubator. Register for the next session of the course.
The Greenhouse is a six-month arts business development program which offers artists and creatives extended training, coaching, and mentoring specific to their work - and, potentially, funding to launch or expand their arts business. Learn more about The Greenhouse.
SPECIAL TOPICS WORKSHOPS
Creative Waco has brought in local professionals to teach one-time workshops on special topics such as web design; branding, marketing, and promotion; fundraising and grantwriting; and more. To find out about workshops as they’re announced, join our email list or follow us on social media (see top of the page for links).
ARTIST NETWORKING EVENTS
Creative Waco hosts a few events each year for local artists and creatives to socialize and connect around their work. Our most recent was a Holiday Happy Hour at Cultivate 7twelve. We lost count at 120 people attending, and we got to hear from 19 different people, organizations, and grassroots efforts that are supporting and promoting individual artists in Waco (download a list including contact info). It was a blast! The Trib came and took pictures. To be sure you get your invitation to the next one…you know what to do.
Waco Arts Alliance brings together leaders from local arts organizations and projects. Arts Alliance existed before Creative Waco did - in fact, it founded Creative Waco and spearheaded the effort to get Cultural District status for Downtown Waco. Today Arts Alliance focuses on leadership development and networking, and is open to anyone who runs an artistic or cultural event, organization or program (non-profit, community, or commercial). Monthly meetings (September through May) are your chance to hang with the movers and shakers of Waco’s arts scene, hear the latest news, exchange information, and coordinate marketing, fundraising, and programming. Learn more about Arts Alliance.
The Creative Directory is a free service connecting Waco and McLennan County artists and creatives to potential audiences, customers, and the wider arts community. Check it out. If you’d like to be listed, use the link at the bottom of the page. You must have a website, professional Facebook page, or a professional selling site such as Etsy. If you don’t have one of those yet, or otherwise need help with your listing, contact Luann.
ARTPrenticeship is a workforce development program that gives real-world mentored work experience to aspiring young creatives and provides Waco with new works of art to be enjoyed by the whole community. During the summer months, high school students from Waco ISD and Prosper Waco’s Summer Internship program work alongside professional artists who guide our apprentices from concept-to-completion in designing and painting murals on public buildings. Learn more.
RESEARCH AND RESOURCES
Want to do some work on your own? Great! Here are some of our favorite links:
Waco Foundation and Cooper Foundation Nonprofit Leadership resources and training. “Nonprofit” is an IRS designation for organizations formed for the social good (it doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t turn a profit). Even if you’re not running a nonprofit organization per se, arts businesses very often function like “social enterprises” and you might find some helpful resources on Waco Foundation’s McLennan County Nonprofit Resources page run by Waco Foundation and at Cooper Foundation’s Nonprofit Network, a free monthly breakfast meeting with interesting speakers.
Creative Waco’s Professional Development Facebook page (you knew we’d get that in again, didn’t you). Luann is constantly scouring social media for interesting and new information to help artists build sustainable and fulfilling businesses.
How to Publicize an Event in Waco. It’s a couple of years old, so some of the names are out-of-date, but Creative Waco’s infographic doc is still really useful.
There are lots of great books out there on how to build a career as an artist, but here are a few of our favorites:
Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers, and Other Members of the Creative Class by Elaine Grogan Luttrull
Anything by Seth Godin or Chris Guillebeau
Artists Thrive. The Artists Thrive toolkit is “part rubric for self-assessment, part survey and part loose roadmap for entrepreneurial thinking.” Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, which supported the creation of Artists Thrive, is our primary funder for The Greenhouse but we’d love this tool even if they weren’t.
Supporting Artists. Their Resources for Individual Artists Wiki contains literally hundreds of links to helpful information, divided into categories like marketing, funding, residencies, personal finance, and much more.
Seth Godin’s Blog. Get these short posts delivered to your Inbox daily. He literally wrote the book on digital marketing, and has inspired and influenced millions of creative entrepreneurs.
Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast. Host Cathy Heller interviews successful creative entrepreneurs who offer practical advice and encouragement to “make a living doing what lights you up.” There’s an active Facebook group and Heller has a new book out with the same name (we haven’t read it yet).
Two free online courses:
Work of Art from Springboard for the Arts. It was the original inspiration for our class, which we sort of named after this course even though ours is now much different. You can watch the topic videos here and apply to get the free PDF download of the workbook here.
Artist U’s Making Your Life as an Artist, free PDF of book and workbook.
Comments from Participants:
Meet the Program Coordinator
Creative Waco’s Artist Professional Development and Networking programs are led by Luann Purcell Jennings. Luann moved to Waco from New York City in 2016 to invest in the city and prepare Waco's artists and arts students for sustainable, fulfilling creative careers. She has started several arts programs and businesses herself (including Waco's InSite theatre company); and has studied arts business, entrepreneurship, policy, and education at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, Columbia University, National Arts Strategies, and Lincoln Center Institute. Luann has taught arts business skills in many contexts, including through Redeemer Presbyterian Church's (NYC) Arts Ministry; as an independent workshop leader and speaker at conferences, universities, and churches; and as an adjunct instructor at Baylor. The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation recently recognized Luann's work with a $50,000 grant to develop the Greenhouse program and expand Creative Waco's Professional Development activities.