Debate with a Fellow Blogger.

Caitlin Shindledecker, a blogger from San Francisco, recently responded strongly to our very successful press release.

I would like to invite you to see Caitlin Shindledecker’s thoughtful post HERE. (Note. As of late April, 2010, Ms. Shindledecker has removed her original post. Regrettably, it can no longer be read on her site.)

This is a rich opportunity. This is a topic that is building steam in cities and countries across the globe. There is a movement occurring in Entrepreneurial Arts and many speculate this is to become a new standard in arts education.

Entrepreneurship in the Arts, I often argue, needs to become a new standard in theatre training, as it is a system that creates jobs, with the artists creating them for themselves and others. Teaching artists about the value they possess and teaching them skills to market their value, leads to undeniable results.

As with any burgeoning movement, there will be heated discussion. All processes of change invoke such. I expect a lot of push back and invite and encourage it, as dialog then occurs.

Below is my response to Ms. Shindledecker. Please feel free to weigh in on this subject. I imagine we would both love to hear your thoughts.

Hart’s Response to Shindledecker:


Dear Caitlin,Thank you for your thoughtful response. I look forward to debating this issue with you further. This is a timely topic and is one I have given much thought to.

Please give me a week or so for a fuller response, as we are in rapid building mode for our conservatory, Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts.

Couple corrections. You spoke about what you perceived to be a “non-focus on specific conservatory training”. Here you are mistaken and I invite you to dig a little deeper. We offer a marriage of both artistic technique and entrepreneurial technique and draw from a rich line of training, including influences of what I received at Yale School of Drama.

These words of yours’ caught my eye: “But when the effort of art-making is minimalized into the goal of worldly survival, of entrepreneurship, it is no longer art”.

I cannot disagree more. Was Picasso a flake because he understood the value of his work and priced them accordingly? Is DeNiro a sell-out because he accepts millions for a film? Would an artist be viewed a sellout if they refused to accept a job (one that requires their time, energy and focus for a period of time), if the job pays too little and they cannot pay the bills with that job?

I find such thinking to be symptomatic of the larger problem and one that supports the starving artist “romanticized” image.

We are not talking about selling out. We are talking about selling art.

It has been my experience that the underemployed are typically the ones talking about selling out. Regularly working artists rarely complain about the value people assign to their works and from the support they receive.

Art for arts sake has its place, but artist should be able to survive and want to. I largely fault our dysfunctional and dated standard of arts training in America (all arts technique and no real business training). But ultimately, artists themselves have to take some credit too. If artists cannot see the value in the work they create, why should anyone else?

I do not fault you for your perspective. Many have this perspective and it is this thinking that supports an overly romanticized notion of the “starving artist”.

We teach artists how to create value for their communities. I fail to understand your issue with that.

Looking forward to carrying this dialog further. I think it is timely and necessary. Please also see my blog here:

I see you went to usfca. I went to school with Peter Novak. We are old friends. If you communicate, please tell him I said hello.

I urge you to study our site further. I have a feeling you may be very interested in our program and that we have much in way of common interest.


Thanks again. It is important to have dialog like this.

Let’s do it again soon.

Jim Hart
Founder of ACPA

April 7, 2010 11:47 AM

One thought on “Debate with a Fellow Blogger.

  1. So timely and relevant to what you are doing.

    The fact that the conversation is taking place at all validates the reality of the struggle against the starving artist stereotype that the Conservatory can banish by creating artistic entrepreneurs.

    Graceful and well said.


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