Entrepreneurial Skills and Arts Education Come Together at Recent CalArts Panel


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) brought students, alumni, and members of the community together last week for a panel discussion in which alumni talked about navigating the world of entrepreneurship with an education in the Arts.

The panel was titled “The Big Idea: Paths to Entrepreneurship,” and was presented by the CalArts Hybrid Incubator for Visionary Entrepreneurs (HIVE) and Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement. It featured five alumni who have seen success in their art entrepreneurship ideas.

The panelists came from a wide variety of backgrounds, and each of their businesses showcased a different area of arts education that, when married to a business plan, was a recipe for success.

The first panelist, Leslie Scott, is the founder and artistic director for BODYART Dance. The website describes the business as a dance company “whose artistic work creates a content based, emotionally charged and strongly visual dialogue with the audience through performances, research, and teaching.”

Other panelists included Robbie Nock, founder of Signpost and Museum Guide; Tina Tangalakis, founder of Della LA, a socially conscious and sustainable fashion line; David Braun, founder and director of Open the Portal Studios, a company specializing in stop-motion animation; and Harmony Jiroudek, the director of academic relations for Kadenze, Inc.

HIVE program leader and CalArts Career Services Director Rita Soultanian truly believes in the benefits of these panels, especially for students. For their first eight years of life, children learn through imitation and repetition, but learning entrepreneurial skills can be a bit more difficult.

“We really wanted to give students and alumni a real-life model of success … so students can see that inspiration and aspire to the next step of their process,” she said in an interview with The Signal.

Soultanian explained that this panel, in particular, was very exciting because it allowed not only alumni and students to connect, it allowed the community and the school to connect as well. She added that she felt it was important for the community to “see what we’re up to here.”

The panelists not only told stories of how they developed concepts for their endeavors but offered practical financial advice, as well.

“The best advice I got this process was never take money unless you have to,” Nock said. Scott added to his sentiment, explaining that working without a contract is never a good idea.

The event was filled with such advice for both students and members of the community, all of whom walked away having learned something new.

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