Busi­ness acu­men for artists

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - BY MANDY DE WAAL

Dave Duarte is no fan of the ‘starv­ing artist’ archetype. The CEO of learn­ing and teach­ing com­pany Tree­shake and Young Global Leader of the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum be­lieves “the story of the strug­gling artist has gone on long enough”.

“We don’t treat the artis­tic and cre­ative dis­ci­plines with the same cur­rent eco­nomic re­spect as we do so many other dis­ci­plines, and yet artists can be just as im­pact­ful and trans­for­ma­tive as en­trepreneurs and busi­nesses – if not more so,” says Duarte, who to­gether with Elaine Rum­boll, MD of The Cre­ative Lead­er­ship Con­sul­tancy, teaches artists how to re­ject the myth of the ‘starv­ing artist’ by be­com­ing suc­cess­ful cre­ators and mak­ers. Both Duarte and Rum­boll are fac­ult y mem­bers of t he UCT Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness.

“Each year we get about 30 to 40 artists from a range of dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines − sculp­ture and f ine art to graphic de­sign and prod­uct de­sign and video or writ­ing or com­edy. Peo­ple with a di­verse range of dis­ci­plines come to­gether to learn the ba­sic busi­ness skills that aren’t taught,” Duarte says. “This prob­lem was iden­ti­fied by Elaine as crit­i­cally im­por­tant be­cause fun­da­men­tally, prac­tic­ing artists are cre­ative en­trepreneurs − they en­ter the busi­ness mar­ket and have to fend for them­selves.

“We’re dis­rupt­ing the ‘starv­ing artist’ myth by deal­ing with mis­con­cep­tions that are deeply in­grained in the cul­ture of arts. One of th­ese fan­tasies is that be­ing com­mer­cially ori­ented un­der­mines the in­tegrity of one’s work. Myths like th­ese are deeply held mis­con­cep­tions that are per­haps even taught at art and/ or de­sign schools and be­come crit­i­cisms of art or artists. Cul­tur­ally artists who are com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful can be seen as sell-outs or lack­ing in­tegrity, which is non­sense,” he adds. Duarte – who serves on En­deavor’s Ven­ture Corps and in so do­ing helps the or­gan­i­sa­tion achieve its goal of sup­port­ing high-im­pact en­trepreneurs across the world – ex­plains that it doesn’t make sense for so­ci­ety to en­able ath­letes or l awyers or ac­coun­tants to be pro­fes­sional while ex­pect­ing artists to suf­fer and starve. “We are ‘con­sci­en­tis­ing’ and chang­ing the cre­ative space by show­ing peo­ple how mak­ing money is not the op­po­site of do­ing good art,” he says.

ANTS BE­COME A GI­ANT SUC­CESS

“At times, my stu­dio is so chaotic that I need to clear

a 12 x 12 cm space on my desk amidst the pile of pa­pers, paints, plants and fig­urines just to be able to

work,” says Lor­raine Loots.

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