It’s not often that a meeting agenda at the White House focuses on the plight of creative entrepreneurs, but that was the topic of discussion at a recent meeting in June, 2011. Wendy Rosen attended on behalf of the American Made Alliance and created a report which is a must-read for artists, craftspeople and Americans interested in starting their own businesses in the field.
With the current state of the economy dictating a huge emphasis on creating jobs and keeping manufacturing in the United States, it is the right time to advocate on behalf of micro-enterprise – including self-employed creatives.
“Access to Market” grants can help startups compete and thrive, but many prospective arts and crafts producers lack necessary business training to compete successfully in the marketplace.
- Statistics present a disturbing picture of current trends:
- Artist unemployment nationally outpaces all other college-educated professionals groups and civilian workers at around 20%.
- Tribal unemployment for the Navajo Nation totals 50%, partially due to reduced market share from galleries and national park and museum stores.
Of 1,200 artisans surveyed recently, only 20% had taken a business course in 2010, a factor which is a major determinant of success.
Who are these entrepreneurs? 1.4 million Americans identify themselves as artisans. Most are female, producing jewelry, fashion accessories, furniture, pottery, art glass, giftware and other items. The number of self-employed artisans is growing, and new producers sold $400 million online in 2010 alone.
Without adequate knowledge and abilities to run a business as well as create products, however, most of these small firms will fail.
Since 1994, the Arts Business Institute has provided expert-led business training and mentoring programs. Thousands of participants have gotten a jump-start on their small business pursuits by learning everything from best practices to booth design to marketing skills.
Backed by the advocacy provided by the Handmade Alliance, and the guidance of Wendy Rosen who has championed artists and craftspeople for 30 years, the Arts Business Institute is recommitting itself to reach out to entrepreneurs with a comprehensive program designed for their success.