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ISPA Fellow & Member Bring Entrepreneurship Program to South Africa

Wednesday, August 28, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nicole Merritt
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Once a year ISPA selects a group of emerging leaders from the performing arts field and provides them access to ISPA’s extensive network of performing arts professionals via the ISPA Fellowship program.  One of the goals of ISPA’s Fellowship program is for participants to take what they’ve learned at Congresses back to their own communities, thus furthering the performing arts field from afar.  Recently, 2013 ISPA Fellow Neil Coppen (South Africa) did just that. 

Elizabeth Bradley with studentsWhile attending the New York 2013 Congress as an ISPA Fellow, Neil re-connected with ISPA member (and Past Board Chair) Elizabeth Bradley, Arts Professor, Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, at New York University.  Following the Congress, Neil’s organization Think Theatre and Market Theatre Laboratory teamed up to bring Professor Bradley to Johannesburg, South Africa to conduct an arts entrepreneurship program for 25 mid-career artists from South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

ISPA would like to congratulate Neil and Professor Bradley on the success of their recent "Self Start Intensive: Arts Entrepreneurship” which took place August 10th – 18th, 2013.  Learn more about the program presented in Johannesburg in the full press release below.  To learn more about the ISPA Fellowship program, visit the Fellowship section of the ISPA website (now accepting applications for 2014 Fellows).

Self Start Intensive: Arts Entrepreneurship” Programme Launches 25 New Ventures in 9 Days

The "Self Start Intensive: Arts Entrepreneurship” programme concluded on Sunday following a successful inaugural nine-day session (August 10-18, 2013). The "Self Start” course was created in 2006 by Elizabeth Bradley (Arts Professor, Drama, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University), and has been conducted around the world. The programme provides self-employed artists with the skills necessary to recognize opportunities, act on them decisively, and actualize an arts venture with competence and confidence. Along with Professor Bradley, volunteer faculty with expertise in business strategy, visual design, and communications worked with twenty-five participants to launch their new arts ventures during the week.

"This course acts as a catalyst for artists to shape and define their own work, and equips them with the practical knowledge they need to communicate and realize their artistic vision,” explains Professor Bradley. "We were privileged to work with an extraordinary group of individuals, and the ventures they have incubated have the potential to effect real change in their respective communities.”

The Self Start Intensive in Johannesburg is the result of a collaboration between Think Theatre’s Neil Coppen (2013 ISPA Fellow) and the Market Theatre Laboratory. Coppen and Professor Bradley forged a relationship during the run of his production Tin Bucket Drum in New York in 2012, and later reconnected at the 2013 International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) conference, where they solidified plans to bring a condensed version of the Self Start course to South Africa.

"It’s taken nearly two years of planning and Think Theatre was thrilled to find a funding/ hosting partner in The Market Lab,” says Coppen. "The Market Theatre’s administration team and The Lab principal Clara Vaughan have been instrumental in making this programme a reality by providing the necessary funding and facilities to support the course.”

The Self Start intensive course was offered without cost to twenty-five successful participants, comprised of mid-career artists and second-year Market Lab students from South Africa and Zimbabwe. The programme culminated in a pitch session to a panel of industry professionals, comprised of John Kani, Kyla Davis, Greg Homann, Hayleigh Evans and Lester Adams. In addition to Elizabeth Bradley, the course was taught by Anne Mundell (Associate Professor, Scenic Design, Carnegie Mellon University) with the assistance of David Betts (Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP) and Bronwen Bradley (Senior Communications Manager, Opera Atelier).

 "We were overwhelmed with the response we received to the call for applicants,” says Clara Vaughan, the head of the Market Lab. "Professor Bradley and her team were given the daunting task of whittling down the 60 applications to a final 17, who worked closely with our group of Lab students.”

The Self Start course provides participants with a "step by step” framework through which to realize their artistic vision. Through informal lectures, practical exercises, class discussions, team projects, and written work, participating artists were equipped to effectively communicate their visions and values and successfully launch entrepreneurial arts ventures. Topics included: articulating a mission, the options for different producing models, choosing collaborators, developing a strategic plan, basic fundraising, marketing and managing the financial aspects essential for start-up enterprises.


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