Entrepreneurs in the Arts

Today, we are delighted to share our #EdEnterprise17 guest blog post from Anne Rushing, Creative Director, Pop Up! Scotland who highlights the benefits of entrepreneurship from an arts perspective.

The creative industries are all about entrepreneurship, even if the label “entrepreneur” hasn’t always been applied. The benefits of being an entrepreneur in a creative field (or just running your own business in general) are many, but there is also no doubt that it can also be difficult. The arts are constantly dismissed as unimportant or a luxury item, and the starving artist is a trope for a reason, but when you focus on creating the right blend of business and creativity it can be magic.

It’s a tough nut and one that we at Pop Up! Scotland are trying to crack. I started Pop Up! Scotland with a small group of like-minded creatives just to do short term pop up art exhibitions as I was finishing my MFA in Glass at the University of Edinburgh. It’s now grown into a multi-pronged social enterprise (if you don’t know what that is, the nice folks at LAUNCH.ed will let you know) that organises unique events, like unDependence film festival in April, and workshops like our weekly Pub Craft Club events.

Pop Up! Scotland has grown out of the passion the team and I feel for its social and creative aims, and I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot in the process. There are the obvious perks: Be your own boss! Set your own hours! Live your passion! But then you also have to be your own boss, make sure you set your own hours, and are constantly surrounded by that thing you’re passionate about.

What I’ve found are the more surprising benefits: while I had some experience in bookkeeping, I learned a whole new set of skills surrounding the nuts and bolts of building a business. I learned about elevator pitches, selling myself and my product, how to value my time and the time of others, and “basic” entrepreneurial skills that you don’t get in school or even university. Also, it’s very hard to start something like this on your own. I’ve developed so many great networks of creatives, entrepreneurs, advisors, and mentors by taking the leap (and exploring all the resources available). I’ve gone from the mad artist working quietly on my own to a team leader and crack conversationalist (well, when I’m not too nervous to talk to strangers).

The great thing about coming into business from an arts or design, or really any humanities background, is that you already know how to think laterally and look at your problems, your products, and your solutions in different ways. The experience of working in business as an entrepreneur has influenced my creative practice; just as my creative practice influences the business. Pop Up! Scotland might have started to do a few exhibitions in unusual places, but by working with artists and local business, we now have a variety of unique events and workshops that aim to open creative opportunities to loads of people who never would have given it a go. I’m constantly looking at new projects, collaborations, and potentially seeing what new business opportunities I want to give a try. Just find the right team, honestly evaluate strengths and weaknesses, and jump in at the deep end…there are plenty of folk already there to help keep you afloat.



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