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Calling all Artpreneurs

As an architect by training, I’ve developed a heightened perception of the world as it exists and a clear vision what it can become. As artists, many of you’ve done the same. We’re hardwired and driven to create, disrupt, and transform.
You find purpose and meaning by designing costumes and sets, writing screenplays, choreographing new dances, composing new music, bringing characters to life, and countless other creative endeavors we’ve yet to dream of.
A few years ago, Forbes magazine reported that about 34% of U.S. artists are self-employed, including a burgeoning category of creative entrepreneurs who are building wealth, creating jobs, and becoming a major force in the global economy.

Here at UNCSA, we call them artpreneurs.

An artpreneur is an artist who’s not defined by what is, but inspired by all that could be; who’s business savvy and technologically aware; who’s devoted to creating value and impact through their creative practice; who reaches beyond existing disciplines to create new ways to connect with others; who’s willing to take creative risks in order to positively transform our world.

Recognize yourself? You should! It’s evident in the boundless creativity and passion, dedication, and grit that defines UNCSA. That’s why we’ve made one of the goals in our strategic action plan to be a creative incubator by increasing student and alumni opportunities for artistic and entrepreneurial exploration.

Last May, I launched a grant program for creative works and enterprises by students, alumni, faculty and staff called the Chancellor’s Artpreneur Initiative. It includes three grant types for 2017-18: Artpreneur Grants for Graduating Students, Alumni Artpreneur of the Year Grants, and Creative Startups Artpreneur Grants. The Initiative is administered by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.

Recently, you might have seen the announcement by the Center for Creative Economy (CCE) that three Winston-Salem-based companies took top prizes in the Creative Startups’ Southeastern Accelerator program for $50,000 in seed funding. One of those companies, The Dream School, is an initiative of School of Filmmaking alumna Tonya Sheffield. Through the CCE, The Dream School will receive $10,000 for the company’s afterschool and summer camp programs that use podcasting, digital video and coding to enhance students’ learning skills.
The Dream School is also a winner of UNCSA’s Creative Startups Artpreneur Grants, along with MEDwigs, an enterprise of School of Design & Production alumna and faculty member Christal Schanes. They’ll receive business services and seed funding up to $25,000. We’ll roll out the Alumni Artpreneur of the Year Grants later this year.

In the meantime, I’m very excited about the third component of this Initiative: Artpreneur Grants for Graduating Students. These are merit-based awards for any student who will graduate this spring—from high school, undergraduate, graduate and professional certificate programs. With administrative help and guidance from our partners at the Kenan Institute, we’ll award up to five grants of $2,500 each for graduating artpreneurs who have a dream and the dedication to make it reality.

I’m grateful to the Kenan Institute for convening an all-star panel of faculty and staff experts—Krisha Marcano from Drama, Wade Wilson and Lauren Vilchik from Film, Dave Olson from Liberal Arts, Betsy Towns from the Center for Design Innovation, University Counsel David Harrison, Ted Johnson from Advancement, and Cindy Liberty from the Foundation, as well as Margaret Collins from the CCE—to design our grant program and its application requirements. You'll be hearing more about the process in coming days.

Applications for the Artpreneur Grants for Graduating Students are due Feb. 1, 2018, and grant recipients will be announced at College Commencement on May 5, 2018.
It’s our mission and greatest joy to support the dreamers and doers who came here to change the world. We applaud you every step of the way.

Until next time,

M. Lindsay Bierman


October 18, 2017