City of Barrie program helps artists of all genres learn business skills

Artrepreneur, a program for independent artists, arts administrators and creative entrepreneurs looking to develop vital business skills, is back for a third season.

The City of Barrie, in partnership with Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, the York Region Arts Council, the Small Business Centre and Entrepreneur Artists Resource Network, is running the 14-week program from Nov. 14 to Feb. 27 at Georgian College.

The deadline to apply is Sep. 27 and the course, which costs $115, is limited to 30 students.

The program is comprised of weekly classes, assignments, mentorships and a final presentation and expo. It primarily serves Barrie and Simcoe County based artists, arts groups and arts businesses working in all creative disciplines such as, though not limited to, visual arts, dance, theatre, film, music, jewellery, fashion, graphic design, gaming and augmented reality. Sessions are hands-on and range in format from lectures to peer-to-peer workshops.

Throughout the program, faculty guide participants through the step-by-step development of a business plan by providing them with templates, learning modules and actionable assignments. By the end of the program, participants will have a complete business plan and the opportunity to present their work in front of industry leaders, invited guests and the public. Upon successful completion, participants will also be awarded a certificate endorsed by all program partners.

The program was created by the York Region Arts Council and piloted in Richmond Hill in 2015.

Karen Dubeau, Director of Creative Economy for the city of Barrie, says the Artrepreneur program is about education and mentorship, so that by the end of the course the students have a business plan that’s unique to their business and objectives.

“These are individuals that are looking to have income from their artistic endeavours,” Dubeau says. “We would call them ‘solopreneurs. We get all different varieties of artists using the program. We know it works because we have been doing follow-up surveys one year after the program with the people that have come through, and what we’ve heard is they’ve been able to increase revenues. In some cases, they have been able to employ more people.

“There’s a lot of different aspects (to the business of artwork), including how copyright works. How do you protect your artwork and your music? How do you leverage social media? And how do you monetize it so that you can have a livelihood from it?

“We’re really trying to grow a vibrant arts community here in Barrie, so this is one of the ways to keep it sustainable by arming them up with the knowledge and the mentor networks and the peer networks from other artists who can help share their experience in the workplace.”

The program is not restricted to Barrie residents.


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