Why Start an Arts Business?
It’s terrifying putting yourself out there and letting out your artistic endeavours in the world.
I hear excuses almost daily about why brilliant artists and entrepreneurs shouldn’t start businesses in the Creative Industries. Generally, these people are amongst the most hard-working, inventive and organised individuals but they are scared of the risks often entailed with starting a new enterprise.
But, there are numerous reasons to set up a new arts business:
- Creating (or manufacturing) new work (products or services) which can be seen and directly sold, whether that is a new piece of art for someone’s mantelpiece or a performance that you want to be seen by the right audiences. This type of business can be taken directly to the customer.
- The want to distribute others work – you could be a gallery owner, a receiving house, a fringe venue, a music academy, a poetry publisher, a producer, the list goes on. You can take this work either straight to the audience or to other businesses so there are two avenues you can go down.
- Running events or finding a product you think someone else will benefit from. Think your Theatre in Education (TIE), art workshops and school holiday activities. Not for profit organisations or charities come with plenty of perks to like claiming Gift Aid on donations and the ability to claim back VAT.
- Some people are simply on the lookout for business opportunities where an investment, either monetary help (funding or equipment) or through giving time and advice to help others start a business, or in many cases in the Arts run themselves as a business, is traded for a return on their outlays later. This is the agents and producers of the industry or opportunities like residencies provided by galleries.
Most Arts Organisations start out in one of these categories and then quickly diversify in order to turn over profit to drive the main organisation aim. Once you have thought of your initial idea then you can branch out:
As an example think of a specialist antique shop that collect their stock and run their business in different ways:
- Some stock they buy in from markets and sell on
- Some shelves or sections they rent to clients and sell the stock on their behalf
- Some products they display for free and split the profits with the owner
- Some articles are faux vintage bought in new to sell on at a more substantial margin
- Some items are handmade from recycled antiques
- Some run a café alongside their shop
- Some host specialist auctions at weekends
- Some run courses to teach hobbyists more about antiques
You get the idea. There are always multiple strings on their bow to help sustain their business and, more importantly, their passion. So, think about your passion and how it can be funded.
Have you come up with your great idea but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve diversified your portfolio to fund your passion. Tell us in the comments below!