MassArt to offer workshops; expanded programming thanks to grant from Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture

     Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) will offer several workshops and opportunities for professional development later this year, funded by a Workforce Development grant from the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.

     According to a press release, offerings include:

     • 24 one-day non-credit creative economy workshops for aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs ranging from high-level introductions to tactical advice on a range of business related topics such as taxes, branding, social media, and grant writing. The calendar of workshops will be announced in September.

     • One-on-one office hours with workshop speakers to ask individual follow-up questions.

     • Portfolio reviews and critique groups for Boston-based visual artists led by MassArt graduate program faculty. Artists may sign up for a 30 minute one-on-one zoom session with a faculty member and the critique groups will be open to groups of up to four artists for two hours.   

     • Space for 12 artists to enroll in MassArt’s Creative Economy Business Incubator program, an eight-month two-course program designed to teach creative entrepreneurship through the launch and growth of a student-owned venture. The application process is now open and will close August 5, 2022.

     The Gazette spoke with MassArt faculty member Sara Hartmann, who said she created the Creative Economy Business Incubator program because she saw a lack of resources for people “who are starting creative ventures.”

     Hartmann, who is also a MassArt alum and holds an MBA, said that it can also be “incredibly expensive” to start a creative business, so that limits who can start one–excluding many bright, creative minds.

     Hartmann decided to “create a formal program that’s uniquely designed to the needs of art and design business,” she said.

     The grant allows the Incubator program, along with other existing offerings, to expand even further. Since 2019, MassArt has partnered with the City of Boston on professional development workshops that are open to the public. Hartmann said these workshops range topically, from negotiations to legal issues to tax assistance for artists.

     She said that this workshop series has been “really popular” and has “demonstrated the high demand for business and professional resources” that are “tailored to the specific needs of the creative economy.”

     With the grant funding, 24 workshops will be offered in the coming months and early next year, “Targeted to artists in Boston” but also open to the general public, Hartmann said.

     The workshops will be free to attend, and will be held on Zoom.

     “We will be announcing the schedule for the first portion of the series in the fall,” Hartmann said, and there will be a couple of “mini series” within the 24 workshops, including a series for marketing for artists and using social media.

     Another talk will include “branding for artists—copywriting and storytelling,” which helps folks brand themselves and tell their stories, Hartmann said.

     Additionally, the Creative Economy Business Incubator program has been up and running for the past two years, but with this new grant funding, it will expand to Boston artists in the general public as well as MassArt students and alumni.

     The Incubator is an eight month program that offers information on strategy, finance, operations, and marketing, “all through the lens of how these theories can and should be applied through a creative economy startup,” Hartmann said.

     Nina Ennis, Founder of Nina Cherie, graduated from MassArt with a BFA in Fibers, was part of the Incubator program as a senior.

     “The Creative Economy Business Incubator gave me the push I needed in order to get my products out to retailers and in the public eye! Three major take-aways from my experience were how to be confident in myself and my brand, networking with mentors plus learning from their experiences, and how to price my work as an artist! The best part now is that I have so many people in my corner and I can still count on my mentors if I ever need them,” Ennis said in a statement.

     Nathalie Miebach also participated in the program as an artist with 15 years of experience, but graduated from MassArt with an MFA in 3D and runs Spiders & Birds, a design studio at SoWa in the South End.

     “One of my biggest surprises about joining the Creative Economy Business Incubator was how empowering and fun it was, Miebach said in a statement. “I learned valuable tools and financial strategies on how to make my art practice more financially sustainable while connecting to a vibrant network of other aspiring and inspiring creatives wanting to put their dreams and visions into a business reality. It was humbling, challenging and one of the best things I have done for my studio practice in a long time.”

     Hartmann said that she’s heard a lot of positive feedback about the Incubator program since its inception two years ago. She said that “having this entrepreneurial mindset and a baseline of business knowledge”  helps frame the way people think about their whole careers.

     “Every artist is a small business in their own way, even at times when they may be employed by a larger firm,” Hartmann said, which is “something really unique about the arts.”

     She said she is most excited for the way the program’s expansion “is going to change the community.”

     One of the most exciting parts of her job, she said, is “watching full-time students working in small breakout sessions and seeing the way they influence each other and the way they grow together.” She added that she’s “really excited to see how this bigger cohort of full-time working artists changes and informs the group dynamic.”

     As the first publicly funded art school MassArt is a “unique school,” Hartmann said, and this program is “giving the opportunity to engage in an arts career to a group of students who might not have otherwise taken that leap.”

     The application to apply for the 12 Creative Economy Business Incubator slots is open through August 5, and the program will begin on September 12. More information about the free Zoom workshops will be announced in September.

            For more information about the Creative Economy Business Incubator and to apply, visit sites.google.com/massart.edu/business/incubator.

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