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Why artists need to start thinking like CEOs - Metro US

Why artists need to start thinking like CEOs

Violinist Timmy Tianyang Gao performs at a reception for Fractured Atlas on Novemb
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If there’s one thing that Adam Huttler – the founder and executive director of Fractured Atlas, a tech company that provides support to working artists – wants the world to know, it’s this: there’s no reason to glamorize the concept of a starving artists.

“There’s sort of this romantic halo to this self-marketed artist who only knows art, but it’s not doing them any good and it’s not doing anybody any good,” says Huttler.

Micheline Heal, a dancer and choreographer living in New York, agrees. Heal says that when she first started performing professionally she hardly knew anything about the business aspects of the dance world.

“When I first started I was advised by an accountant, ‘You really need to start separating personal finance from your company financing and oh, by the way, you can accept non-profit donations,” and I was like – what,” says Heal incredulously. While doing research, she discovered Fractured Atlas’ online resources and says they have helped her get her career off of the ground.

“I think what’s really worked for me is asking a lot of ‘dumb’ questions and try and try to get as much advice as you can on every single business aspect, because unless you have a business background, you really aren’t going to know,” Heal continues.

We sat down with Huttler to talk about Fractured Atlas and the things that every working artist should keep in mind as they build their careers.

How important is it for an artist to think like an entrepreneur?

It’s hugely important. Artists – whether they like it or not – are small businesses. Usually, they go to school where they focus on craft, more or less exclusively and obviously you’ve got to have the talent.

But then they find themselves out in the world and realize “wow, I need to know about fundraising, I need to know about marketing, I need to know how to make a budget.”

What are some of the more common questions that younger artists have when they come to you?

It’s all over the map. I think that a lot of people just don’t know where to get started and they might have some vague sense of what to get they need. They’ll come to us wanting help with a grant proposal and in the process of helping with that grant proposal there’s a lot of technical assistance and coaching that happens along the way.

And can you tell us about the Arts Entrepreneurship Awards that you are currently collecting nominations for?

It’s our second year doing the awards. We’ve always been an entrepreneurial organization ourselves, we’ve always been launching new initiatives. So we’ve been championing this, but this is the first time we’ve been able to plant a flag and say ‘This is entrepreneurship and this is what we want to see more of in the field.’

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

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