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Avoiding the life of the starving artist

From USC School of Music Article by John Brunelli

SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge teaches entrepreneurship to the arts community [caption id="attachment_31142" align="alignright" width="250"]Savvy Musicians SAVVY teams create exhibits showcasing their business ventures.[/caption] Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most celebrated postimpressionist painters of the 19th century. But at the time of his death, he was penniless and obscure — the epitome of a starving artist. "You don't get any brownie points for being an amazing artist, who is so poor that you can't afford to create your art or share your gifts," says David Cutler, director of music entrepreneurship at the University of South Carolina. For the past five summers, Cutler has led a School of Music workshop designed to help a diverse group of artists maximize income, prove their worth and adapt to a world that is changing at an exponential rate. This experiential workshop called the SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge explores how a variety of business lessons are applicable to all art disciplines. This year's class is the most diverse yet — including musicians, visual artists, dancers, actors and even two mimes. Each of the 72 participants begins the week by giving a one-minute elevator pitch for an innovative arts-based business. The entire class votes on favorites and ultimately selects nine ideas to develop throughout the week. They divide into teams each with a CEO, a CFO, a marketing director and other key positions designed to create a successful business model. "There aren't a lot of tidy, secure, full-time jobs available for artists, even those with the most talent," Cutler says. "Most of us have to create our lives. SAVVY helps participants develop a variety of relevant skills for their own unique career path." Throughout the week, teams are required to solve eight "challenges." The finance challenge asks groups to create a startup budget, explain their business' cash flow and build a financial statement. A digital branding challenge requires the creation of a website consistent with the brand's personality while meeting the needs of customers. A research challenge gets them into the community to conduct surveys, interview experts and test core assumptions. "Entrepreneurship, for me, isn't just about career training. It's a way of life," Cutler says. "It's about creative problem-solving and innovation, as well as value creation, financial literacy, business-model design, taking chances and bold unapologetic leadership." At the end of the week, the teams pitch their businesses again — this time to a panel of judges and local government, arts and business leaders during the SAVVY Reveal at the Copenhaver Band Hall. People watching a livestream of the program from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. June 9 also can vote for their favorites. The week begins with the SAVVY Chamber Showcase, where four finalist ensembles featuring artistic excellence and innovative event design compete for a $10,000 grant prize/School of Music residency and management options. All finalists receive full tuition scholarships to attend the 2017 SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge. This year's finalists are: Real Vocal String Quartet from Berkeley, California, a multi-genre string quartet where all members also sing. Projecto Acromusical, based in Dekalb, Illnois, is a world music sextet that reimagines the Afro-Brazilian berimbau, a single-string percussion instrument, through a repertoire of concert chamber music. BIK Ensemble from Montreal, Canada, is a theatrical trio whose musicians dance around the stage, use cutlery as percussion and incorporate a host of other surprises. The final ensemble, The Living Earth Show from San Francisco, is an electro-acoustic group that generates a huge variety of sounds and sights from just a guitarist and a percussionist. The four ensembles compete at 7:30 p.m. Monday (June 5) in the newly opened auditorium at the Richland County Main Library. The concert is free and open to the public. In addition to becoming business savvy, Cutler hopes the participants, who are from nine countries and 25 states, will gain an appreciation for the resources and potential of a vibrant city like Columbia. Local organizations, businesses and community members are involved with SAVVY in a variety of capacities, as partners, dinner hosts, guest presenters and "entrepre-tainers." "SAVVY is literally the best event of its kind in the world," Cutler says. "This parallels a lesson we emphasize. For those with the courage and audacity to lead in relevant ways, the benefits can be tremendous."

Savvy Musician in ACTION names winners of Arts Venture Challenge and Chamber Showcase

The Savvy Musician in ACTION has announced the winners from its intensive entrepreneurial workshop and Arts Venture Challenge, plus the winner of the Chamber Showcase. Sixty participants from around the country pitched arts-based business ideas, voted on favorites, then formed teams and designed a venture from the ground up to compete for awards on the final day. Attendees completed assignments that examined innovation strategies, business models, competitive research, finance, marketing, and social media, allowing participants to develop transferrable skills directly applicable to their own careers and environments. Multiple art forms – music, dance, theatre, and visual art – were used to teach lessons in success. The teams had three days to develop their product or business and pitch it to three judges – Ken May, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Juliana Iarossi, professor at the Darla Moore School of Business, and Philippe Herndon, founder of Caroline Guitar Company. Arts Venture Challenge winners:

  • Top Arts Venture – Janet’s Band: a music hospice program
  • Runner Up and Audience Choice – impromptu: an app to sell discounted unsold event tickets
  • Best Exhibit – Music for Transformation: a music program for prisons
Arts-based businesses developed during the workshop:
  • Musique Unique: live arts experiences for brick and mortar retail stores
  • ARTSploration: mentoring program where high school musicians are paired with professional musicians
  • Wigglebug Box: subscription box of developmental toys for ages 0-3 year
  • Fire It Up!: stage production workshop for musicians
  • Sound Crawl: classical music bar crawl event
  • Musical Passages: a music program for refugee families in Utica, NY
Chamber Ensemble Competition Innovative event design and artistic excellence were the criteria for the Chamber Ensemble Competition, held in conjunction with The Savvy Musician in ACTION. Peter Ferry and Xuan (pictured above) took first place, and Cre.Art Project won second place and audience favorite. Among the prizes are professional management, a USC School of Music residency, and a performance on a Chamber Music America showcase concert in New York City. Michael Harley, artistic director of Southern Exposure New Music Series and coordinator of the chamber competition said, “The duo of Peter Ferry and Xuan, who began working together as students at the Eastman School of Music, represents a new performance paradigm for musician-artist collaboration: one that stretches the definition of "chamber music – what they do might better be called chamber arts.” Ferry is a percussionist who is also well versed in video and other multi-media platforms. Xuan is a video artist who, because of her training as a classical pianist, brings an unusual amount of musical insight to her video designs. Together, they create programs that unite music and video with extraordinary skill, humor and sophistication. Ferry is typically the main performer and Xuan the video designer. However, for a short portion of their prize-winning performance, which included site-specific video created in Columbia, they turned the tables: Xuan played piano, accompanied by a video designed by Ferry. Learn more about The Savvy Musician in ACTION at sc.edu/music/savvy. Learn more about the Chamber Ensemble Competition at sc.edu/music/chambercomp. Via: The Savvy Musician in ACTION

Faculty soloists and new music in the spotlight for concert

Outstanding USC School of Music faculty members – trumpeter James Ackley and double bassist Craig Butterfield – will be center stage for the next USC Symphony Orchestra concert with two contemporary works. The concert takes place Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Koger Center. Ackley and the orchestra will give the North American premiere of Juan Carlos Valencia Ramos’ Concierto para Trompeta y Orquesta from 2011, while Butterfield will be soloist for Nine Variants on Paganini, a 2002 work by Frank Proto. This will be the first time the soloists have performed these works. The concert, which will be conducted by the orchestra’s assistant music director Neil Casey, will also include John Adams’ The Chairman Dances: Foxtrot for Orchestra and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, op. 34. Casey, Ackley and Butterfield aren’t just colleagues; they’re also friends who spend time together away from the concert hall and School of Music. Associate professor Ackley was principal trumpet and soloist for the Bogota (Colombia) Philharmonic and taught at the National Conservatory of Music in Colombia. He is principal trumpeter with the Augusta Symphony and member of the Bala Brass Quintet. “The USC Symphony had asked me to perform, but we hadn’t decided on a particular piece – then I got wind of this piece,” Ackley said. “It really uses the color of the orchestra and is full of Latin American sounds, folk melodies and jazz. I thought it would be a cool piece and the orchestra was very happy with it.” Butterfield is active in the classical and jazz fields and performs regularly as a solo artist working with electronics and exploring the possibilities of the instrument. He was a member of Maynard Ferguson’s big band during 2004 and 2005 and is half of the guitar/bass duo Dez Cordes. This will be his first time performing as a soloist with the orchestra. “One of the big problems for double bassists is the lack of repertoire,” said Butterfield. “In the late 1700s and early 1800s a number of composers were writing for double bass, then there was nothing for a long time. Now a lot more contemporary composers are writing for us.” Nine Variants is based on Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 for solo violin which Schumann, Liszt, Brahms and Rachmaninoff all tapped for inspiration. This will be the first time Casey has led a full concert by the orchestra, but he’s well known as conductor for opera at USC. He also leads the Armstrong Atlantic Youth Orchestra in Savannah, Ga., and the USC Campus Orchestra. He has been assistant conductor of the Augusta Symphony and music director of the Statesboro-Georgia Southern Symphony and guest conductor with the Savannah Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Knoxville Symphony, Spokane Symphony, Richmond Symphony, S.C. Philharmonic and the Charleston Symphony. The Chairman Dances (1985) is described by Adams as an "outtake" from Nixon in China, although it is not part of the opera and is musically dissimilar. It is meant to depict Madame Mao gatecrashing a presidential banquet and performing a seductive dance, enticing Chairman Mao to descend from his portrait and dance a foxtrot with her. The concert closes with Capriccio Espagnol from 1887 by Rimsky-Korsakov. The composer based the piece on sketches he had made for a virtuoso violin fantasy on Spanish themes and then expanded it to feature almost every instrument in the orchestra during the five-movement. It is one of his most popular works. “This concert allows us to bring two great soloists to stage for newer works the orchestra hasn’t performed and the Capriccio with its emphasis on each instrument lets the students shine as well,” said Casey. “And The Chairman Dances is just a wonderful and fun way to start any concert.” Tickets are $30 for the general public, $25 for USC faculty and staff and seniors, and $8 for students. Call (803) 251-2222 or go to http://www.capitoltickets.com/ Via: USC Symphony Orchestra