Related Features


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

Free WORK OF ART Program Designed to Help Dancers Build Entrepreneurial Skills

Free WORK OF ART Program Designed to Help Dancers Build Entrepreneurial Skills

Published on December 15, 2015
Work Of Art Workshop - Bruce Silcox.

Free Toolkit and Video Series Debut Online on Monday, December 14th

Over 75% of arts majors (dance, performing artists, visual artists, etc.) will be self-employed at some point in their career, but a majority believe their schools failed to arm them with the skills needed to build a successful career.
While there are plenty of books to buy and workshops to pay for, one of the nation’s top arts organizations is filling the gap by launching a completely free, 14-part program and video series aimed at helping dancers and all artists build the entrepreneurial skills needed to make a living and a life in their field.


Recognizing that millions of Americans have the talent to create extraordinary art, but are held back by a lack of skills and training to make a living and a life in the arts, Creative Exchange debuts WORK OF ART, a free, inspiring, and practical guide and video series for planning, launching, and running a successful artistic business.

Developed by St. Paul-based Springboard for the Arts, WORK OF ART is based on a series of professional development and entrepreneurship workshops that have been taught to more than 5,000 artists at arts organizations, colleges, and libraries in over 80 communities in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Iowa since 2010.

To make the successful program accessible to artists and artisans from all disciplines nationwide, Springboard for the Arts received support from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation’s Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program to create the WORK OF ART toolkit and video series and make it available for free via Creative Exchange.

Dedicated to mobilizing the creative force of artists, Creative Exchange is a national hub that offers free toolkits, consultation, and networking aimed at helping communities collaborate with artists to creatively address local economic, social, and cultural challenges.

Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands.

WORK OF ART is a 14-part workbook and video series that guides artists through every facet of building a successful and sustainable career – from career planning, time management, marketing, and social media to pricing, recordkeeping, funding, and developing a business plan (see the section descriptions below).  Designed to help new artists learn the ropes, as well as more experienced artists grow and expand, each section provides a step-by-step guide to tackling the topic, including easy-to-digest tips, best practices, useable case studies, hands-on exercises, analytical tools, checklists, and worksheets. A series of videos brings each topic to life with empowering insights and advice from artists on how they incorporate WORK OF ART strategies into their everyday work.  WORK OF ART can be used cover-to-cover or as a build-your-own lesson plan by mixing and matching the section that address specific challenges.

According to Laura Zabel, executive director of Springboard for the Arts and the founder of Creative Exchange, WORK OF ART fills a critical void in a profession that, until recently, placed a lower priority on teaching artists critical entrepreneurial and business skills.

“WORK OF ART is aimed at replacing the myth of the ‘starving artist’ with that of the thriving, empowered creative entrepreneur who is able to do what they love, make an impact on their world, and be valued for it,” said Zabel. “We are excited to make these critical and relevant tools available in an easy, accessible way to anyone who want to use them."

In addition to helping individual artists, Zabel said that WORK OF ART can also be used by arts schools to supplement educational curricula and by organizations to start or enhance their own creative entrepreneurship programs.

"The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation is delighted to support the professional development work of Springboard for the Arts," said Heather Pontonio of the Tremaine Foundation. "This WORK OF ART toolkit provides a comprehensive, adaptable, artist-focused approach to entrepreneurial development and arms artists with strategic economic and business visioning and planning skills that will contribute to their success in the marketplace. The innovative nature of this toolkit is a game-charger for artists who are not in urban environments or are not already connected to professional development resources yet have the desire to advance their artistic careers.”

The Work Of Art Tooklkit.

WORK OF ART sections include:

Career Planning
Where do you want to be both artistically and professionally? Learn how to define your values, identify key choices, and develop a plan to achieve your career goals. 

Time Management
Discover analytical and tool-based approaches to managing your time. These tools will help you tackle hurdles related to efficiency, flexibility, and structure to help you reach your artistic goals.

Portfolio Kit
Your portfolio is the core of your promotional material. Focus on the essential elements: sharpening your artist statement, tailoring your artistic résumés, and selecting and formatting your work samples. 

Define your product, discover your target audience, make decisions about how you sell your work, and identify a budget and strategy for your artistic business.

Social Media Basics
Using Facebook and Twitter examples, learn core functionality, best practices, and exercises to help you build an online strategy for your artistic business.

Discover an analytical approach to defining key elements that will help you calculate the costs and prices of your art for a variety of markets. 

Learn how to track revenues and expenses, make informed projections, and gain a clearer understanding of your artistic business finances.

Legal Considerations  
Obtain general information about your intellectual property, contract basics, and structuring your artistic business. 

Diversify your funding streams as well as understand the essential elements of researching and writing grants that appeal to potential funders of your art.

Business Plan
Learn how to prepare a simple business plan, in arts-friendly language, to help you organize all the various aspects of your artistic practice and make informed business decisions.

Marketing Sample.

About Creative Exchange
Dedicated to helping communities mobilize the powerful, creative force of artists to solve local challenges, Creative Exchange is a national hub where community leaders and artists come together to share proven ideas and success stories for building stronger neighborhoods and cities. Recognizing that many local governments, community organizations, nonprofits, and arts groups lack the resources to develop innovative programs from scratch, Creative Exchange offers free toolkits, consultation, and networking to help communities collaborate with artists in replicating successful programs that creatively address economic, social, and cultural issues. Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Creative Exchange is a national initiative of Springboard for the Arts. Creative Exchange is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Surdna Foundation and Kresge Foundation, with content partnerships with the National Endowment for the Arts and Aspen Institute Arts Program.

About the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation Marketplace Empowerment for Artists program
The Marketplace Empowerment for Artists (MEA) program supports business and entrepreneurial development and professional practices for visual artists. The Foundation seeks to empower artists with the tools to help them succeed in their field without being strictly reliant on patrons, grants or federal funding. The goal of the program is to address the broad issues of business development and community networking at the emerging and mid-career levels.

Interested in this toolkit?
Email Carl at with the subject line 'Work of Art' to receive a copy.

The Dance Enthusiast is interested in hearing about your experiences with this program if you decide to make use of it.
Please email us with your experiences at




Related Features

View More Features