NYFA and IBM Host Cultural Entrepreneurship Symposium

NYFA and IBM Host Cultural Entrepreneurship Symposium

Event brought art, business, academic, and government leaders together to explore the critical intersection of arts and business.

The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) partnered with IBM to host Inform: A Symposium on Cultural Entrepreneurship, on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at IBM Client Center in Manhattan. The invite-only symposium explored the critical intersection of arts and business, and featured talks, panels, and interactive sessions led by an esteemed lineup of art, business, academic, and government leaders. The day’s programming was shaped by significant input from the leadership of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Event participants converged to analyze how the arts and artists can reshape business’ ability to differentiate their products and better connect with the needs and tastes of consumers. They also examined the growing role of arts-based businesses and the impact of arts and culture on the broader economy. 

Speakers and panelists included:

  • Phil Gilbert, General Manager of Design, IBM
  • Michael L. Royce, Executive Director, NYFA
  • Judith K. Brodsky, Board Chair, NYFA
  • Jane Chu, Chair, NEA
  • Beth Comstock, former Vice Chair, GE
  • Sebastian Cwilich, Co-Founder, Artsy
  • Joe Gebbia, Co-Founder, Airbnb
  • Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts
  • Nitin Nohria, Dean, Harvard Business School
  • Marie Paule Roudil, Director, UNESCO
  • Christopher Rothko, Board Chair, Rothko Chapel
  • Dread Scott, Artist, NYFA Board Member, and NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow
  • Tom Scott, Co-Founder, The Nantucket Project
  • Rosanne Somerson, President, RISD
  • Michael Spalter, Board Chair, RISD
  • Maggie Williams, former Director, Harvard Institute of Politics, and Partner, Griffin Williams Critical Point Management
  • Martha Wilson, Founder, Franklin Furnace, and NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow
  • Andre Woolery, Co-Founder, BlckPrism (part of NYFA’s Arts Business Incubator)
  • Dustin Yellin, Founder, Pioneer Works

“There is an opportunity for cultural entrepreneurship right now, as the intersection of man, machine, and environment is as complex as it’s ever been,” said Phil Gilbert, General Manager of Design, IBM. “The question of how you understand and help humanity through science, through a mastery of your environment, requires great empathy and truly interdisciplinary collaboration,” he added. 

As part of the symposium, NYFA and IBM will publish a white paper on the relationship between artists and cultural creatives and business. It will focus on the practitioners of cultural entrepreneurship—accomplished and aspiring individuals and institutions—while seeking to identify the patterns, principles, and behaviors they share. Stay tuned to NYFA Current for key takeaways from Inform: A Symposium on Cultural Entrepreneurship and the resulting white paper.

NYFA’s Arts Business Incubator, a program that supports NYC start-ups with intensive training in the fundamentals of starting and running an arts-based business, was launched in 2015 to connect arts and business in significant and compelling ways. Since lauching, the program has worked with more than a dozen artists and organizations seeking to create sustainable models to support their work. 

Sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter, NYFA News, to receive updates on future programs and articles about artists and arts entrepreneurs. 

Image: courtesy of IBM, “Exploring the Impact and Potential for Arts in the Economy,” with Robert L. Lynch, Dread Scott, and Marie Paule Roudil

Amy Aronoff
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