More than 200 Princeton students, alumni, and working professionals from the worlds of arts and business gathered in the Lewis Center for the Arts for Princeton’s inaugural Arts and Entrepreneurship Day Feb. 15.
This interdisciplinary event, the result of a three-year incubation and one year of planning, was the first of its kind for the University, offering panels, workshops, Q&A roundtable discussions, and career networking opportunities for Princetonians in the creative arts and entrepreneurship. High demand led to live streaming of several workshops.
Organized by Don Seitz ’79, assistant director of alumni engagement for the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, and Angel Gardner, associate director of external affairs for the Lewis Center, the event included Princeton sponsors across departments and programs. The conference focused on highlighting the parallel paths of artists and entrepreneurs.
“Artists are integrally entrepreneurial. I think that’s something that artists often don’t even realize about themselves,” Gardner said. “The creativity that artists use to solve problems is something that many entrepreneurs would benefit from.”
Embodying this interdisciplinary mindset was the event’s kickoff panel, “Myth of the Artist/Myth of the Entrepreneur,” featuring panelists like Nico Wheadon, executive director of NXTHVN arts collaborative in New Haven, Conn., sharing their approaches to working as arts entrepreneurs.
“The spirit of innovation is involved in both practices: approaching familiar things in new, experimental, innovative ways,” Wheadon said. “Embracing risk is part of the special spirit of someone who identifies as both an artist and an entrepreneur.”
While the goal of the event was promoting conversations about the intersection of arts and entrepreneurship, one of the main takeaways of the event was the recognition of Princeton’s strong, multifaceted alumni network, and its generous sharing of information.
“The value of these conversations is incredibly enhanced when you bring different sponsors and co-hosts and representatives from various organizations to the table,” Seitz said. “Princeton has an incredibly rich and diverse body of alumni and graduate students and undergraduate students.”
Many conference attendees appreciated the event’s alumni networking and support.
“It’s nice to feel support from Princeton, as an alumna: They care about their arts alumni and will still be providing help after school,” said New York City-based visual artist Elise Rise ’15. “I feel motivated to not get worn down by being an arts entrepreneur. I have a little extra energy after this!”
Representatives from various Princeton departments were present at the conference throughout the day. Gardner and Seitz said they hope the event will spark more interdisciplinary programming among University departments.
“What we’ve put together seems like it resonated,” Seitz said. “The possibilities going forward are pretty limitless.”