An Opportunity for Creative Start-Ups: Build Your Arts Business with NYFA’s Support
For years, NYFA has helped artists and arts-minded entrepreneurs apply business principles to the growth and sustainability of their careers. We’re proud to have championed arts enterprises that create jobs for artists, energize diverse communities, and bring art into the larger economy in dynamic and uncompromising ways. Through this work, we recognize a growing need to support emerging and exciting arts businesses, as many in the arts have creative and ambitious business ideas but lack access to the necessary channels to realize them successfully.
Through the generous support of the Scherman Foundation’s Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund, NYFA is pleased to open applications for the second cohort of our Arts Business Incubator (ABI) Program. ABI provides a small cohort of New York City-based arts startup businesses with up to 18 months of custom-tailored, formalized support from NYFA’s knowledgeable staff and network of experts, including:
Intensive professional development training, providing the fundamental principles for developing and operating an arts business
Group learning with a small community of other arts startups, as well as one-on-one coaching with NYFA staff and consultants
Strategic and business planning guidance from mentors at the top of the participant’s field
Access to a $15,000 drawdown account for use towards consultant services in fundraising, marketing, real estate, insurance, technology, and any other area relevant to the needs of each individual enterprise
For some participants, the opportunity for a technology-based residency at Eyebeam (see details below)
Whether you have created a new product for the cultural sector, are using the arts to solve a persistent social problem, or have developed a software tool that brings art to new communities, we would like to hear from you! We are seeking businesses that are self-sustaining, innovative, scalable, and beneficial to the cultural community. Teams are strongly encouraged to apply and given priority over solo founders. We encourage you to take the time to develop a well-thought-out application that will give ABI evaluators a clear understanding of your project.
Program and Application Schedule
September 8, 2016: Application opens
October 14, 2016: Program applications due. Finalists will be notified by November 7, 2016, if they have been selected for the panelist round.
Nov 28 - Dec 2, 2016: Panelists conduct interviews with finalists.
December 9, 2016: Successful applicants notified of acceptance.
January 17-27, 2017: Orientation and group training covering the fundamental principles of developing and operating a successful arts-based business. Participants are required to attend all sessions as a condition of entry into the program. The exact dates and times will be released closer to the start of the program, but participants should block off this date range. Sessions will be held between 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM, with some evening and weekend sessions to be scheduled if necessary.
Participants must commit to monthly meetings with their program mentors for the duration of the program. The ABI program will conclude in June of 2018.
Applicants must be in the “startup” phase of the enterprise (i.e., within the first 18 months of operation). If an enterprise consists of multiple people, one person must be designated as the lead applicant for the purposes of this application.
Must be a for-profit, arts-based business
Must be based in New York City
Must commit to attending all sessions of the program, including monthly meetings with mentors for the duration of the program
The application for this program closed on October 14, 2016. Applicants will be notified in December.
Applicants will be notified by November 7, 2016 if they have been selected for the second round. Interviews will be held during November 28 - December 2, 2016. Final decisions will be announced in mid-December, 2016.
The Eyebeam-ABI Residency
One technology-based arts enterprise selected in this cohort may be eligible for a special opportunity for a residency at Eyebeam, a nonprofit studio for collaborative experiments with technology toward a more imaginative and just world. By providing generous support to artists for research, production and education, Eyebeam makes ideas real. The residency will begin immediately following the ABI opening intensive in January 2017, and will last for approximately four months. It includes workspace and technology guidance, but not direct funding. Those applicants who advance to the second round will be provided more information and the opportunity to apply to this residency.
Read more about previous ABI participants in the first cohort of the program here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does ABI provide direct funding?
One of ABI’s unique features is the way in which the participants receive funding. ABI provides a drawdown account in the amount of $15,000, but with certain restrictions. ABI funds must be used for professional consultant services on areas outside the normal expertise of the enterprise. Examples could include lawyers, accountants, marketing experts, strategic/business planning consultants, or in some cases, technology support. In this way, ABI pays for important professional services that all enterprises need to survive and grow, but does not provide unrestricted funds to participants. Where needed, NYFA will work with the participants to identify consultants with the requisite expertise.
Does ABI provide space?
While some incubator programs focus on providing space, ABI focuses instead on providing expert services. For example, participant might receive legal assistance to help negotiate a lease or mortgage, or fundraising strategies to help design a capital campaign to be used for space needs. This also promotes one of the program’s goals, which is to help connect each enterprise to its geographic community, as well as its creative community.
The one exception to this is the Eyebeam-NYFA residency. One of the arts enterprises selected in the ABI cohort may be eligible for a special opportunity for a residency at Eyebeam, a nonprofit studio for collaborative experiments with technology toward a more imaginative and just world. By providing generous support to artists for research, production and education, Eyebeam makes ideas real. Based in Brooklyn, the residency will begin immediately following the ABI opening intensive in late January, and will last for approximately four months. It includes workspace and technology guidance, but not direct funding. Those applicants who advance to the second round will be provided more information and the opportunity to apply to this residency.
Must I be an artist to be eligible for ABI?
Perhaps surprisingly, no. The enterprise must be an “arts-enterprise,” however, in the sense that it provides services to artists, employs artists, or has art at the center of its business plan. An enterprise that creates very unique tools for artists might therefore qualify. If you have a novel idea that fits within these parameters, we would encourage you to apply.
What kinds of artistic disciplines should apply?
We welcome applications from any and all artistic disciplines, or any combination thereof (visual, performing, media, literary, etc.). We recognize that arts-enterprises are as diverse as the communities they serve or from which they draw inspiration. We want to encourage creative, non-traditional ideas, from any and all communities within New York City.
What if I can’t answer all of the questions within the word count limit on the application?
We recognize that some may find it challenging to keep to the space allotted for responses. The space restriction is there to allow evaluators the opportunity to read every application with the utmost care and attention. Evaluators are interested in the quality of information provided, not the prose, so please focus on providing only essential information.
Slider images: ABI Workshop, photo credit: Judy Cai; Urbanity Dance, photo credit: Michael Seamans; ABI Workshop with Mark Golden, photo credit: Judy Cai; How Much Do I Owe You? exhibition (2012) in the former Bank of Manhattan/Clock Tower in Long Island City, Photo: Whitney Browne; Legislative Theatre Festival 2013, The Door troupe, photo by Joe Kolbow.