According to Todd Hestand, manager of incubator programs at University of the Arts’ Corzo Center for the Creative Economy
, there’s no excuse for creative professionals in Philly not turning their ideas into businesses.
"This is one of those great lies," he explains. "Artists love to say that there’s no resources out there for them, there’s no funding, and that’s all just a big excuse…there are tons of resources out there for artists. You just have to go out and look."
One of those resources is the Corzo Center (which receives funding from PECO
, Wells Fargo
and the Knight Foundation
). It offers a four-pronged program for different levels of engagement, including free lectures and workshops
, Corzo’s Open Office Hours
program, two-week business Boot Camps
, and a Creative Incubator Grant
The Center defines artists as broadly as possible -- everything from musicians and performers to fine artists, craftspeople and industrial designers. And they can help any artist who wants to start a business, either for- or non-profit, from supporting themselves with their own practice to developing an app.
Hestand, a serial entrepreneur with a long resume as an executive management consultant who is also an artist and musician, first came across Corzo Director Neil Kleinman about five years ago when he joined Philly Startup Leaders
"He said he was running this thing called the Corzo Center," recalls Hestand. "I said, 'Who’s on your team?' He said, 'Well, just me.' I said, 'Well, not anymore.' That was about it."
Hestand is also the administrative coordinator for the Open Office Hours program, providing unlimited, free, confidential entrepreneurship counseling sessions to the public. This rapidly growing four-year-old initiative offers access to about 25 experts at three different partner locations: UArts, the Curtis Institute
All consultants are well-rounded business strategists, but aspiring entrepreneurs can pick from a long list of specialties including accounting, marketing, PR, taxes, finance, web design and development.
While the Corzo Center isn’t the only place in the city offering counsel to aspiring entrepreneurs, "there really isn’t any other organized, growing operational office hours capacity for artists starting businesses in Philly," argues Hestand.
Recently, a new scheduling platform through the Timely
app has dramatically increased program participation: The number of appointments has doubled every month since it launched.
Hestand estimates that 100 people used the old platform last year, but that number could easily jump to three or four hundred in 2015.
"All locations are free and open to the public," he urges. "Sign up for a much help as you need."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Todd Hestand, The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy