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Interview with Arts Entrepreneurship SIG Co-Chair Megan Matthews

Sunday, October 4, 2015  
Posted by: Bonnie Nolan
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Arts Entrepreneurship SIG Co-Chair, Megan Matthews on her role with the Arts SIG and what we can look forward to at the 2016 Conference in San Diego

by Patrick Snyder, Executive Director



PS: Tell us a little about yourself and what made you want to volunteer as co-chair of the Arts and Entrepreneurship SIG?

MM: Arts Management is my field; I have been teaching arts management for several years, and started getting really interested in arts entrepreneurship a few years ago when the Entrepreneurship faculty in our college of Business reached out to get artists and other creatives involved in their entrepreneurship programs. I love the idea of artists being self-determining and able to pursue their passion while making a decent living.  I also believe creatives have a lot to offer entrepreneurs in coming up with new business ideas and new ways of thinking. The best way I could foster these things is to work with others across the country who are as passionate as I am about teaching entrepreneurship skills to artists and other creatives. Jim Hart, my co-chair, is great to work with – we have complimentary skills, and have been able to schedule our time-crunches so that when he’s busy I have time, and when I’m busy, he can pick up the slack.  I’ve learned so much through talking with people across the country, getting new ideas and thinking about how they fit at UW-W. 


PS: What types of activities were the Arts and Entrepreneurship SIG involved in over the Summer and what are you planning for the conference?

MM: We communicated with our SIG membership over the summer, letting them know about resources and new research they have available to them, and encouraging them to submit USASBE Conference proposals.  We have a pre-conference planned for the 2016 conference, that will highlight arts entrepreneurship incubators and other activities in the San Diego area, and I know there are at least three proposals for sessions that directly address arts entrepreneurship.  The Learning Journey is going to take us to the Naval Training Center at Liberty Station in San Diego, to talk about arts, culture and science incubators.  We’re going to get a chance to hear from leaders who are working directly with art entrepreneurs and be able to think about how to take those lessons home to our students.  I’m really excited about what we’ve been able to put together. 


PS: Congratulations on all the wonderful work you guys are doing! What are some you and your co-leader use to keep the SIG engaged and active?

MM: We try to send an email newsletter of some sort at least once a quarter, sharing resources and news that we think will be interesting and helpful.  We also make sure to connect as a cohort at the USASBE conference. Many of us tend to go to the same conferences so we work to connect at those a couple of other times throughout the year. 


PS: What are some of your challenges?

MM: As much as we try to stay connected, SIG members are so busy it’s hard to get responses sometime.  We tried to have a discussion forum where we could all share thoughts on creating a culture that fostered arts entrepreneurship on a campus, and that didn’t get the response we had hoped.  It all comes down to having enough time to do this, in addition to classroom and research duties.


PS: Do you have any advice for future SIG Leaders?

MM: Ask your members what they’d like.  If something you try doesn’t work, try something else.  USASBE has great resources -  utilize them as best you can.  Come to think of it, that sounds like advice I’d give to my students…:)


PS: Lots of instructors have a favorite class activity, an exercise you do once or twice a year that is a blast but your still learning. What exercise is that for you? What is that class like?

MM: I’ve been working on some ideation exercises where I bring in random items from anywhere and give them to my students to come up with a product that they can be passionate about.  It walks them through the idea of allowing space for creative brainstorming, deciding what is important to you, and how to combine those things to create a product you can be passionate about and work on. 


I also like the “speed dating” exercise on customer feedback that Jim Hart shared with me a few years ago and that we highlighted at last year’s conference.  That’s fun.  Or the “trading up” exercise where I give my students a marble and they trade it up to something they want, or that they want to donate.  I’m still working on how to do those really well. 


Those are for the “Introduction to Creative Enterprise” class I’ve been teaching for UW-Whitewater.

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