Andrea Bogart started Embrace Creatives with the intent of empowering artists in the marketplace. A sort of LinkedIn for artists, the Embrace Creatives platform was designed to bridge the gaps between makers and buyers.

Now Bogart is seeking to empower artists through the Creative FUEL: Growth Series, a year-long seminar series meant to teach artists and creative business owners how to better do business and make a living.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down much of public life, including in-person gatherings, forced this Thursday’s seminar to be an online-only session, the show must go on. Protecting Your Creative Business is scheduled from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19 online. Other events are tentatively scheduled to take place at the Detroit Center for Design + Technology, depending on official guidance on gatherings and social distancing.

Registration and additional information is available online.

Model D: Introduce us to the Creative FUEL: Growth Series. What is it and why is it important?

Andrea Bogart: Our Creative FUEL: Growth Series is a fun way for us to continue our global, empowerment mission by uniting artists and art enterprises with education, connections, and opportunities. Embrace Creatives is a creative business ecosystem that exists online and off. Our headquarters is based in Metro Detroit and we set up a variety of events, bringing our local networks together to showcase their work, find business clarity, and meet collaborators. Our free-for-all, Growth Series is important because as much as it’s a way for creatives to alleviate their business frustrations and expose them to expert insights, participating in an Embrace Creatives event opens our guests up to our vast network of their peers and industry professionals. When someone comes to an Embrace Creatives event they are welcomed into our caring business network as well.

Model D: How did you get the idea of a speaker series?

AB: As an art business consultant for over 12 years, teaching artists business skills and connecting them to opportunities using my large network is what feeds my soul. Embrace Creatives online platform allows me to support the growth of my peers in a bigger way and as much as I appreciate scaling through the internet, I know how important it is to build relationships in person so I’m bringing local experts together with local Creatives to get their questions answered. I’ll be on hand to throw in my two cents but it’s more important that the artists who are searching for support and guidance meet and learn from a variety of people that they can go to after the event ends. What makes my Growth Series different than a lot of educational events out there is that instead of having artists with some business acumen in as speakers, I’ve secured industry professionals with over 30 combined years of education and experience in different topics important to art entrepreneurs; small business insurance; trademark and intellectual property; media, press and promotion; retail buying, sales and merchandising; etc.

Model D: In 2018, you told us that, “Embrace Creatives is all about trying to help and being an advocate for artists.” How does the speaker series fit into that mission?

AB: Oh, yes, I said that! And my mission hasn’t changed one iota. My goal was always empowering artists to succeed through education, connections, and opportunities and it still is. At that time I ran some “Think Tanks” covering how to find your client, how to speak to galleries, how to take and store photos but in 2019 I decided to focus on the “connections” and “opportunities” portion of our in-person events with Mix With a Maker, pop-up exhibits.

Now, in 2020 with the Mix series going strong, I feel it’s important to come back to the “educations” portion of empowerment with this speaker series. A lot of artists may feel that learning business isn’t as fun as exhibiting their art or expanding their studio techniques, and I get that, but if their eyes are closed to the business side of art, what’s the point of creating, unless it’s merely a hobby. I’m always happy to know that the artists are blown away by the amount of usable advice they receive that can make their lives easier.

Model D: The four topics are about protecting your creative business, telling your story, retail sales, and holiday sales preparation. Why these four topics in particular?

AB: As a business consultant, I have a really good idea what artists WANT to learn and what they NEED to learn but to make sure that my community is engaged with their education, I put out a survey and used their answers to structure the Growth Series topics. I tend to offer a Creative Accounting event early on in the year because it’s the most timely and since there’s very little to support holiday selling, I’ve put together that event in September so artists are able to prepare for opportunities well before October, which is go-time. I already have an incredible speaker lined up for 2021 and I’m talking to an EC Business Member in Dearborn about expanding the events to their area.

Model D: What’s next for Embrace Creatives?

AB: Funding. As a socially conscious for-profit and a free network, generating revenue hasn’t been a large part of my empowerment mission but now it is — it has to be. Making money by offering added services that are important to my members will allow Embrace Creatives to expand and support more people. For artists and businesses that are ready to build a healthy and financially stable enterprise, EC is adding a fee-based, membership level they can upgrade to that will offer them things like; wholesale selling; increased promotion throughout the network; PR queries showcasing media opportunities; discounts on business services; and site data detailing which of their items and services others find valuable. In addition, Chapter Directors that host fee-based, EC events will make money from ticket sales. However, alongside all of these important advantages I’m launching, I’m also revamping our business and financial plan to secure angel investors and seed money. Businesses who offer value should be paid for said value, including creative businesses. I cannot teach my peers to find and stand in their value, their strength, if I’m not doing it, myself. EC will always be free but to expand and become a creative business ecosystem that supports millions of artists and businesses, I need to focus on making money as well as programming and education.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

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