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Innovation & Job News

UArts' Corzo Center awarding creative dollars to help spur creators' profits

A degree in fine arts doesn't often come with instructions on how to take economic control of your creations. The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at the University of the Arts steps in with a rescue plan, applying the concept of enterprise funding to creative business ideas. With a grant from the Dorrance Hamilton Foundation, UArts professor Neil Kleinman developed The Creative Incubator, a $10,000 opportunity open to graduating students and recent alumni to "give students in arts and media economic control over their lives."

On a recent Wednesday, Kleinman and associate Todd Hestand welcomed a dozen hopefuls to an orientation in preparation for the March 21 proposal deadline. "Some of you are here only for the money," said Kleinman, "Some of you are interested in getting self-positioned, to learn more about how to put an idea out there, and make it continue." Kleinman plans to give two to three applicants with sustainable ideas $10,000 each, divided into three payouts: a third up front, another midway, and the final payment after the project is complete, with the idea that once the $10,000 runs out, profitability is well underway. Last year, says Kleinman, about eight smaller grants were given out, but only one reached the final payout. "Many fell prey to the very problems we were afraid of: no sustainable plan, and lack of awareness about underlying costs." This year, there will be fewer grants and more competition, with greater scrutiny of applicants' business plans, budget, marketing structure and audience.

One applicant is Michael O'Bryan, a 2007 graduate of UArts, who is attempting to create workshops for marginalized youth, combining artistic exploration with civic engagement. He says he got the idea while working two jobs: as a Youth Services Coordinator at The Salvation Army, and as Music Department Coordinator and Community Outreach liaison at the New Freedom Theater.

The Corzo Center offers applicants like O'Bryan, as well as all community members regardless of application status, full entrepreneurial support, including assistance developing proposals and business plans, workshops, special programs, and real world business contacts. Eventually, says Kleinman, the Center hopes to expand its funding to include creative entrepreneurs citywide.

Source: Neil Kleinman, Michael O'Bryan, University of the Arts
Writer: Sue Spolan

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