The Art of the Arts Venture

PERF–596–004 | Spring 2016 | Tuesdays, 5:30 – 8:00 pm | Katzen 115
Instructor: E. Andrew Taylor | | Katzen 217 | 202.885.1601
Office Hours: Tue., 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Wed., 3:00 – 5:00 pm, or by appointment
Available in person, by phone, or via Skype (artfulmanager).
Book online at

VERSION OF 01/20/2016

Course Website

Course Overview

Starting and growing a project, business, or program in the arts is often framed as a technical challenge – gathering money, people, and stuff in a marketplace against competing economic ends. But an arts venture is also a deeply aesthetic effort, seeking order, balance, and even beauty not only in what it creates, but also in how it functions. Through hands-on projects, real-world examples, and critical reflection, students will develop their own arts venture not only as a business, but also as an on-going, creative act of collective expression.

Learning Outcomes

Through the course discussions, readings, presentations, assignments, and lectures this semester, students will be able to:

  • Discern and describe their own aesthetic experience of objects and processes around them.
  • Describe and apply the essential elements of entrepreneurship and venture development in the arts.
  • Discuss and compare the components and conventions of “Art Worlds” within multiple artistic disciplines.

Readings & Resources

The course has two required texts, and will include additional readings, media, and resources:

  • Becker, Howard S. Art Worlds. 25th anniversary edition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
  • Clark, Tim, Alexander Osterwalder, and Yves Pigneur. Business Model You: A One-Page Method for Reinventing Your Career. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley, 2012.

Assignments & Grading

Item Points Qty Total Possible % of Grade
Attendance 10 15 150 15%
Reflective Practice 2 50 100 10%
Learning Journal 15 10 150 15%
Event Assessment 150 1 150 15%
Org. Report 200 1 200 20%
Venture Design 250 1 250 25%
TOTAL 1000 100%


You will demonstrate and advance your understanding of the course material through projects, presentations, and course requirements. These will include:

Class Attendance (10 points per class, –30 per unexcused absence, 150 points possible)
Attending each class earns you 10 points per class (easy!). Missing a class costs you 30 points, unless you notify me in advance (or shortly after in case of emergencies) with an appropriate excuse for your absence. According to American University policy, excused absences “include, but are not limited to, major religious holidays, a medical reason, athletic participation on an AU team, off-campus activities that are required and related to another class, or a family emergency. Instructors may require documentation for excused absences.”

Reflective Practice (50 instances, 2 point each, 100 points possible)
Each student will keep a log of reflective efforts. This can include any reflective activity of 10 minutes or more, suggested by the student and approved by the instructor. Examples might include a 10-minute meditation or reflection session, a creative effort whose purpose is the creation itself (drawing, coloring, moving, performing), or some other action or practice suggested by the student. Details of this assignment will be discussed in our first class.

Learning Journal (15 points possible for each, 10 are required, 150 points possible)
By the end of each Monday (11:59 pm), you will upload an image of your learning journal response to the week’s prompting questions. Your response may include drawn or painted images, text, cut-outs, or other expressive elements. Details of this assignment will be discussed and explored in our second class.

Event Assessment (150 points possible)
Each student will provide a description and aesthetic analysis of a cultural event, using provided prompts (to be discussed in class).

Organization Report (200 points possible)
Each student will prepare and present an overview of an assigned arts organization with an aesthetic or expressive approach to their work. Details of this assignment will be provided in class.

Venture Design (250 points possible)
Each student will prepare and present an original venture design, describing a proposed business, project, or initiative. These ventures will be developed throughout the semester – in part through the learning journal prompts. A rubric and detailed instructions will be provided in class.

About the Instructor

Andrew Taylor thinks (a bit too much) about organizational structure, strategy, and management practice in the nonprofit arts. An Associate Professor of Arts Management at American University in Washington, DC, he shares what he learns at “The Artful Manager".

Prior to his move to American University in 2012, he directed the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, an MBA degree program and learning center in the Wisconsin School of Business, for more than a decade. An author, lecturer, and researcher on a broad range of arts management issues, Andrew has also served as a consultant to arts organizations and cultural initiatives throughout the U.S. and Canada, including DataArts (formerly the Cultural Data Project), International Society for the Performing Arts, American Ballet Theatre, Create Austin, Theatre Communications Group, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. He helped develop the budget pro forma and operating plan for the $205-million Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, and advised its transition from a public entity to a nonprofit. And he’s currently leading a three-year research initiative for the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia.

Andrew is past president of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, board member for Fractured Atlas, and consulting editor for The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, and for Artivate, a journal on arts entrepreneurship. Since July 2003, he has written a popular weblog on the business of arts and culture, “The Artful Manager,” hosted by

University Information

Academic Support and Access Center
In addition to using the resources available in this course’s department, all students may take advantage of individual academic counseling, skills workshops, tutor referrals, Supplemental Instruction, and writing appointments in the Academic Support and Access Center. 202.885.6225 | MGC 243

Students with Disabilities: If you wish to receive accommodations for a disability, please notify me with a letter from the Academic Support and Access Center. As accommodations are not retroactive, timely notification at the beginning of the semester, if possible, is requested.

Counseling Center
The Counseling Center offers counseling and consultations regarding personal concerns, self-help information, and connections to off-campus mental health resources. 202.885.3500 | MGC 214

Writing Center
The Writing Center offers free, individual coaching sessions to all AU students. In your 45-minute session, a student writing consultant can help you address assignments, understand the conventions of academic writing, and learn how to revise and edit your own work. The Center offers appointments on the hour from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, and 3 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Call or go to the Writing Lab scheduling website to arrange a session. 202.885.2991 | First Floor of Bender Library

Center for Diversity & Inclusion
The Center for Diversity & Inclusion is dedicated to enhancing LGBTQ, Multicultural, First Generation, and Women’s experiences on campus and to advance AU’s commitment to respecting & valuing diversity by serving as a resource and liaison to students, staff, and faculty on issues of equity through education, outreach, and advocacy. In addition to visiting in person or calling, the center can be reached via email at 202.885.3651 | MGC 201 & 202

Dean of Students Office
The Dean of Students Office offers one-on-one meetings to discuss academic, adjustment, and personal issues that may be interfering with a student’s ability to succeed academically. The DOS office also verifies documentation for students who have medical or mental health issues that cause them to be absent from class. 202.885.3300 | Butler Pavilion 208

Emergency Preparedness for Disruption of Classes

In the event of an emergency, American University will implement a plan for meeting the needs of all members of the university community. Should the university be required to close for a period of time, we are committed to ensuring that all aspects of our educational programs will be delivered to our students. These may include altering and extending the duration of the traditional term schedule to complete essential instruction in the traditional format and/or use of distance instructional methods. Specific strategies will vary from class to class, depending on the format of the course and the timing of the emergency. Faculty will communicate class-specific information to students via AU e-mail and Blackboard, while students must inform their faculty immediately of any absence. Students are responsible for checking their AU e-mail regularly and keeping themselves informed of emergencies. In the event of an emergency, students should refer to the AU Student Portal, the AU Web site for Emergency Preparedness and the AU information line at (202) 885–1100 for general university-wide information, as well as contact their faculty and/or respective dean’s office for course and school/ college-specific information.

Academic Integrity

Integrity is one of the primary building blocks of your professional success. Therefore, academic integrity is essential to this class. At the minimum, I expect you to be familiar, and to comply, with the University’s Academic Integrity Code (see below). Violations are immediately subject to the processes and policies defined in this code.

In short, I expect everything you present as your original work to be exactly that. In a world of wiki and web resources, it’s easy to copy sentences and ideas into your work without taking an extra moment to designate that you have done so, and neglecting to credit the original source. This is plagiarism. Of course, I will encourage and expect you to interweave the words and ideas of others into your presentations and writing, but always with plain and clear citations for their source.

If you are unsure how to appropriately cite the work of others, please visit the Writing Lab (

Academic Integrity Code
Standards of academic conduct are governed by the University’s Academic Integrity Code. By enrolling in the university and registering for this course, you acknowledge your familiarity with the Code and pledge to abide by it. All suspected violations of the Code will be immediately referred to the Office of the Dean. Disciplinary action, including failure for the course, suspension, or dismissal, may result.

Additional information about the Code (i.e. acceptable forms of collaboration, definitions of plagiarism, use of sources including the Internet, and the adjudication process) can be found in a number of places including the University’s Academic Regulations, Student Handbook, and Academic Integrity Code website. If you have any questions about academic integrity or standards of conduct in this course, please discuss them with your instructor.