Members of the Arts Enterprise (AE) student organization are, as the name suggests, an enterprising lot. Devoted to connecting the arts and business worlds to promote social growth, they can also unite the two for their own entrepreneurial efforts.
“Because Arts Enterprise is grass-roots in nature, we want students to engage in all aspects of creative entrepreneurship,” said AE co-founder Dr. Nathaniel Zeisler, a bassoon faculty member. “In our rapidly changing economy, there is a real opportunity for artists to have a seat at the table in a true business setting.”
This summer has seen activity on a number of fronts. BGSU senior Molly Swope, a music major and bassoonist from Dayton, is preparing to launch an online business called Bravo Bassoon Reeds. She and Zeisler will make reeds to sell. The plan is for Swope to take over the business and eventually employ other students.
BGSU alumni Kyle Chandler and Wesley Parsell are handling the design and function of the business’s Web site. The group met in a creativity and innovation class Zeisler taught in the College of Business Administration’s entrepreneurship program. Chandler and Parsell are the owners of Twistup Media, a full-service media studio.
Arts Enterprise has also been involved in the launch of what is hoped to become an annual community arts event. Last month, bassoonist and AE member Chelsea Schumann produced, directed and performed at the Northern Ohio Music Festival in her native North Olmsted.
“Here at the College of Musical Arts, we’re kind of spoiled in having so many quality performers to hear. We don’t have that in my hometown, and especially not on the west side of Cleveland,” Schumann said. The BGSU junior recruited her fellow music students as performers and rounded out the day with activities sponsored by other community groups.
The festival experience, along with an AE trip to New Orleans last summer, “affirmed my feelings about arts education and how important that is,” she said. “It’s often downplayed in our country. I’d like to work in arts advocacy, maybe on the national level.”
Surveying arts entrepreneurship
Kristen Hoverman, a senior and original member of the AE chapter, has spent the summer researching the “conceptual economy.”
“We’re moving into an economy that’s based on ideas instead of marketing or even services,” she explained. Her survey has revealed a discontinuity in university programming between the arts and entrepreneurship nationally. “The AE model, which is based in noncurricular learning, might provide some continuity between the two,” said the Van Wert native, a music performance major in flute and, like Swope, an entrepreneurship minor.
Her study is funded through a grant from BGSU’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. She will present the results in October at the University research conference.
This week, the organization will hold its first summit, designed to prepare cross-disciplinary teams of students, faculty and staff from other college campuses to start their own AE chapters.
BGSU students attending the conference at the University of Michigan are Swope, Schumann and Hoverman, along with Ali Schmidt, theatre and film; Ross Roadruck, art, and Cassie Calvert, business.