WFU hosts conference to teach artists the art of business

By Maggie Barrett
March 7, 2006

To teach emerging artists how to turn artistic passion into a living, Wake Forest University is hosting the first Self-Employment in the Arts (SEA) Conference in the Southeast April 1.

Organized by the university's Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts, the conference will bring students and emerging artists together with successful artists and business professionals to discuss how to pursue a successful career as an independent artist. It is presented in collaboration with Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA).

The conference will be held 8:30 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. at Reynolda House, Museum of American Art, followed by a reception from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). The public is invited to attend, but registration is required.

More than 30 professionals from various fields including the visual, performing and literary arts, arts-related business, arts management, law and accountancy will lead panel and small group discussions to help aspiring writers, musicians, illustrators, dancers and actors discover how to make livings as professional artists.

"The conference is a great fit for our area, as Winston-Salem has an established commitment to supporting the arts," said Sharon Andrews, associate professor of theatre and dance at Wake Forest and director of communication and awareness in the Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts.

Tim Miller, internationally acclaimed performance artist, actor, author and entrepreneur, will be the keynote speaker. Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of theatre at UCLA's School of Theatre, Film and Television, is the founder of two of the most influential performance spaces in the United States: Performance Space 122 in Manhattan, N.Y., and Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Calif., where he is the artistic director.

Other notable speakers include novelist John Ehle, who was instrumental in the founding of the North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA); actress Rosemary Harris, whose credits include Broadway, television and movie roles, including that of Aunt May in the Spider-Man movies; Elliot McGucken, author, expert in controlling the use of intellectual property published on the Internet, and professor of physics and programming at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Preston Lane, co-founder and artistic director of Triad Stage; Doug Borwick, composer and nationally recognized educator in arts and not-for-profit management; Dale Pollock, feature film producer and dean of the NCSA School of Filmmaking; and Gerald Freedman, award-winning director of theater and television and dean of the NCSA School of Drama.

Conference participants will have the opportunity to network with speakers at the reception immediately following the conference. Transportation from Reynolda House to SECCA will be provided.

SEA was created by North Central College in Illinois through a grant from the Coleman Foundation. The first conference was held in Chicago in 2000. This year, the Wake Forest-organized conference and a conference held outside Seattle mark SEA's first efforts to expand to areas outside Chicago.

Betsy Gatewood, director of the Office of Entrepreneurship and Liberal Arts, said she hopes Wake Forest students and students from other nearby colleges and universities will take advantage of all the conference has to offer. "The real-world advice and the chance to network with successful artists make this an invaluable opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers in the arts," Gatewood said.

The conference is sponsored by the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County; Reynolda House, Museum of American Art; SECCA; the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; the Coleman Foundation; Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts; the Wake Forest University departments of theatre and dance, art and music; and Raylen Vineyards and Winery.

Twelve other North Carolina colleges and universities will participate in the conference by encouraging students, faculty and staff to attend: Catawba College, Duke University, Elon University, Guilford College, Greensboro College, High Point University, North Carolina A&T University, NCSA, Salem College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Winston-Salem State University.

To register for the conference, call 336-758-5900. Cost is $35, $30 for students and Reynolda House members. The cost of registration includes lunch and the reception.