Daffodils on Display: Building a Mission-Driven Nonprofit
One of the best parts of venturing into the art field is that there are unlimited routes you can take, and regardless of where you go, knowing the logistics of how to run a business is something that can take you far.
Arcadia offers a unique opportunity to intertwine art and business with the help of Professor David Bradley, who teaches the course, Arts Leadership and Management. The goal of the course is to teach the practical skills necessary for careers as professional artists, curators, administrators, and leaders of arts and culture organizations. For any art major, or just anyone interested in business, it’s worth looking into.
In the first few weeks of class, after learning the logistics of how a business works, our first step is to create a not-for-profit arts organization that interests us and is something we would want to invest in. Early on we each flesh out the mission, vision, and goals, as well as think about how we want our business to operate.
Once we have our organization and mission solidified, our main focus is creating a project to carry out our mission. This builds up to our final work in the class, which is presenting and pitching our ideas in order to get a grant that would kick-start our project. We craft the budget, press release, letter of intent, and final essay detailing everything we have built up to over the course of a semester. Though it is a lot of work, it’s also an incredibly thorough dive into what this business is like, and David knows it better than anyone.
At the end, the class is divided for presentations. One person per group presents while the other group acts as a jury and then can ask questions. At the end of the presentation, the jury discusses whether or not to give the full amount requested or if there is still work to be done in their project.
For my business, I created an art center and greenhouse dedicated to teaching scientific illustration from life called Bramble and Bone Illustration. My mission within this organization was to promote scientific illustration by teaching kids about science and how to apply what they have learned to art, and I did this in the development of a project called “Daffodils on Display.”
Essentially, I wanted to create a project that involved biology in a fun and creative way. Daffodils on Display is a program running from September through June that depicts the life cycle of daffodils through hands-on gardening and documentation of the different stages of life in a series of paintings. By the end of the program, the students would have a finished series of paintings to exhibit and also have learned about plant biology.
Even if I don’t directly use what I have learned to create the next best not-for-profit in the future, this was a great way for me to learn about how art and business can coincide before I encounter it myself.