ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN ART
by Bruce Onobrakpeya
I am a great believer that the artistic community will begin to fully realize the promises of this nation, when it recognises the economic empowerment that can come from the enlightened use of the arts to leverage change for the good of the entire Nigeria.
Entrepreneurship in art maybe defined as the innovativeness and endeavours of any person to bring artistic products to the market over time with a goal of securing profit. The main goal of the entrepreneur should be to add value to the production of cultural goods like fine art works, textile etc.. in a way that make them extremely attractive to the customer, to make them want to acquire these products. Entrepreneurs are also people who enjoy the opportunity to change the world around them. They often do this by looking for areas where they can render services, to the generality of people who may not be having their needs met at all or well enough, especially in the cultural and artistic sphere. Successful entrepreneurs are therefore necessarily problem solvers, as they convert opportunities, which when solved, bring products or services to the market, that add value or premium to the lives of the customer, and by so doing make profit.
Traditionally the artist has done quite a number of these activities without giving serious thoughts to them. But a cursory look at many developed societies, indicate a landscape where there are a lot of people actively involved in the enterprise of art.
The areas of opportunities are clearly in exhaustible, however new trends seem to exist in several areas.
The opportunities that exist to bring new products to the market are generally at 3 levels, which the entrepreneur can take advantage of
Individual Collectors: People often purchase fine art for their personal enjoyment, whether for themselves or the enjoyment of others such as when they give gifts. Decisions regarding how much money should be spent and what kind of piece, will be appropriate, how many pieces will be purchased are often made.
This means that the entrepreneur has the opportunity to focus the needs of the individual, and help to select works. The specific knowledge of lifestyle, preferences and needs, will enable the person to give customised attention to these clients, and in the process add value through their services to the collector.
In this category will be art dealer galleries, and art advisors who generally earn a commission from the value of artwork purchased.
Corporate Collectors: Corporations, small companies, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, purchase the arts primarily to decorate their workspace. They also give commemorative gifts to their corporate guests. Professionals are often hired to recommend particular artworks that meet a certain set of pre determined criteria set up by the company. Larger businesses may also invest in art as a means of making use of additional cash in hand. Fine art purchases are generally made when there is a major event that requires documentation through art, such as with the opening of a new headquarters, or other corporate milestone. Occasionally, Corporations have been known to buy art for investments, with large portfolios of a wide variety of art in their collection. The entrepreneur will do well to take advantage of this kind of ample opportunity to present artistic products and works of fine art.
Government At different levels whether local government, City, State or even National. The government is involved in the purchase of arts. Election of a new government, anniversary celebrations, hosting of festivals, announcements of new parks, squares, town halls or public facility, and even visiting dignitaries from abroad, create occasion to celebrate and create memorable events. This should generate a tremendous opportunity for art entrepreneurs. These events bring in quite a wide range of people, and often times the government is interested in impressing it’s citizenry through the use of art that is capable of engaging and impressing it’s people. Commissioned city squares, art in building interiors and souvenirs and various forms of documentation, create these opportunities.
Not surprising we can suggest that people who have skills or are engaged in the following areas amongst others, have opportunities to leverage the fine arts especially for profit. Galleries/Dealers, Art Advisory Services, Curatorial Services, Frame makers, Interior Design Experts, Insurance Agents, Tour guides, Book craft /Magazines Publishers, Auction Houses, Event planners to mention but a few.
What is clear is that the artist like most professionals of today, need s a lot of cross training in areas other than creativity. This will guarantee a more robust platform for the arts to thrive, the artist must be prepared to take courses and classes in business, management, law, and be alert to new ideas. In doing this, we will begin to move closer to a time when most artists, will be empowered as Entrepreneurs in the Art. Indeed if history is anything to go by, the creative inspirations of the civilizations of Nok, Igbo- Ukwu, Ife , Owo, Benin and the lower Niger, also have provided a continuum in creative goods and the evolution of Nigeria contemporary art that should be a fertlile ground for Entrepreneurship in the art to thrive.
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