From Portfolios to Platforms: Navigating Post-Entrepreneurial Arts Training

Friday, November 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm

This paper examines current trends in arts entrepreneurship training and questions the degree to which the portfolio career model offers sustainable career opportunities for today’s young artists. It will also address whether a more interdisciplinary educational approach might provide an alternative career development framework, one that opens new opportunities by focusing on the pursuit of an aspirational life in the arts rather than general entrepreneurial prowess.


Jonathan Kuuskoski helps artists self-start careers. As Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Leadership and Director of the EXCEL Lab at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, he oversees all aspects of their comprehensive entrepreneurship and career development program. As the only such program embedded in both an elite performing arts school and a top 10 university entrepreneurship ecosystem, EXCEL has endeavored to carve out a new national model for performing arts professional development. Their programming spans extensive coursework and career advising to weekly workshops featuring professionals from organizations like the New York and Berlin Philharmonics, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Opera, and International Contemporary Ensemble, along with the annual distribution of $100,000 in student project, venture, and internship funding. They maintain active partnerships with a growing list of organizations including National Sawdust, the Metropolitan Opera, and Michigan’s own University Musical Society. He also teaches a variety of courses focused on performing arts career development. A classically-trained pianist, he continues to perform with the New Muse Piano Duo (with Paola Savvidou), an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing works by living composers for piano four-hands. They have concertized across the US and Europe, and their first album “transhuman” (Blue Griffin Recordings, 2017) has been called “creative” and “highly entertaining” (TheWholeNote).


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