Entrepreneurship at Juilliard

by Lee Cioppa, Associate Dean for Admissions

What does it mean to be an artist in the 21st Century? This necessary self-reflection for all members of the Juilliard community, from the administration, to the faculty, to the students, often leads to the response: an artist must also be an entrepreneur.  At the opening of this school year, at Juilliard’s annual Convocation (all-school meeting), the focus of the presentation was on this topic.  Courtney Blackwell, our Director of Career Services, gave such a wonderful speech on this topic that I asked her if I could post it on our blog.

But before you read her speech, you must first visit a brand-new section of our website: Juilliard Entrepreneurship, Shaping the Future.  While there, watch the short film that is featured in the main window on the page (click on the arrow icon in the center of the photo to start the film). The film was the lead-in to Courtney’s speech; so watch first, then read below!

From Courtney Blackwell, Director of Career Services, The Juilliard School

After seeing the great things that these faculty have done and after hearing everything you’ve heard today, you might still be wondering, is entrepreneurship for me?

Good afternoon and welcome back everyone.

The truth of the matter is that these faculty, and many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs were once in the place that you are today. They exhibited talent, discipline, and were creating a vision for something that mattered to them. Finding what matters to you produces an atmosphere where great ideas are born.

Take the case of a small group of local musicians, with one ringleader, who formed with a mission of advancing instrumental music. (You’ve definitely heard of them). In the first few years, the group took a very hands-on approach, making all decisions – from music to new members – by a group majority vote. They even put together a large scale benefit concert to raise funds for a new building, which was initially unsuccessful. These humble beginnings started by an entrepreneurial collective would later become the New York Philharmonic.

Another example is the professional trumpeter who was so frustrated with ineffective lip balms that he took matters into his own hands. The health of his lips were obviously very important to his playing, so he went into his own kitchen , made his own mixture of herbs and moisturizers and developed a product that he not only uses but is also used by wind players all over the world. That trumpeter is still performing and his product, Chopsaver – a virtual cash cow- is in 1500 retail stores worldwide. I even wear Chopsaver and in case you don’t know I am not a wind player.

Another great example is that of a choreographer who in the early 1980’s felt that there needed to be a space specifically for dance in New York City. He had a business partner with a similar vision and they found an old art film house where the vision could be born. Using everything they had to track down sources for private and public funding, this new home was born and still stands today as The Joyce Theater, which now attracts an annual audience of 140,000 and has welcomed 270 dance companies to its stages. And the choreographer in that case was none other than Eliot Feld.

All of these people began their journey to create something great with by finding what mattered to them.

I remember myself, years ago, as a student at Juilliard. My picture perfect career path involved travelling, going to some of the world’s greatest theaters, and working with some of the best artists I could imagine. But what I thought would get me to that goal was one singular path, my fate held in the hands of one artistic decision maker.

After a career ending injury while dancing in a company, the course of my path changed. I was living in Munich, Germany (where the company was based) and enlisted my entrepreneurial skill set and dance training to create new job opportunities. I quickly learned basic German, became certified in Pilates, and founded my own portable fitness service started by a need that I saw around me. In addition, I began writing for the local English newspaper and sought out business opportunities that helped pave a path towards arts administration, my current career. During this transition I realized that entrepreneurship provides you with the benefit of having many paths to your goal and even enhancing your original goal.

Being an entrepreneur is not just for Silicon Valley start-ups, this concept applies directly to you, performing artists who already create on a daily basis. Entrepreneurship gives you the chance to create your own job, be your own boss and determine how your art and your voice will influence this world instead of letting that just be determined for you.

Entrepreneurship lets you decide what will be most important in your career as an artist, whether that be social good, artistic fulfillment, financial reward, or a balance of these factors.

Like the illustrations you’ve heard about today, entrepreneurship allows you to create incredible opportunities for yourself instead of waiting for the one opportunity that might present itself.

So as you ask, is entrepreneurship for me, remember that if your goal is to innovate and move the industry forward, entrepreneurial thinking is not an option, its essential.

Entrepreneurship at Juilliard is the vehicle that will help you to connect what matters to you with your education as an artist. From entrepreneurial coursework and to programs like – the Center for Innovation in the Arts, Professional Mentoring, Career Services, and the drama division’s student-initiated projects, Juilliard has resources to help you define and explore what entrepreneurship means to you.

Juilliard even provides financial support to build your skill set or to execute your idea through fellowships from the Educational Outreach and grant awards from the Juilliard Summer Grants Program. Juilliard’s programs have even helped students build fully functioning and in some cases money making endeavors before they even graduate.

All of these resources help you develop that idea of something that matters to you which could be the next Chopsaver, NY Phil, Signature Theater, or Facebook.

To kick-off Juilliard’s emphasis on this type of thought and action, we have created a new webpage called Entrepreneurship at Juilliard. It is your go-to source for all things entrepreneurial including the programs and resources mentioned today.

Also kicking off Juilliard’s emphasis on entrepreneurship is a new grant, the Jonathan Madrigano Entrepreneurship Grant which provides financial support to student projects that display innovative ideas, resourceful thinking, and impact to a specific audience. Mr. Madrigano, of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, is a passionate supporter for seeing these projects flourish and is here with us today.

You can read about the five winning grantees on the Entrepreneurship at Juilliard website, but I will give you a quick snapshot of each:

We have granted awards to:

• Jessica Garand: A violist determined to see that every child have the opportunity to experience music

• Toni Marie Marchioni: An oboist who personal obsession with Facebook produced a new media firm geared towards arts organizations

• John Brancy, Tobias Greenhalgh, and Armand Ranjbaran: Two baritones and a composer turned classical music superheroes, taking the future of classical music into their own hands

• Kristin Olson: an oboist whose modern and baroque reed making workshops are built to make everyone sound as good as possible through having the best crafted reed as possible.

Our final grantee is a second year actor. His vision for helping he, his classmates, and other Juilliard students obtain future employment comes in the form of a three tier project, the first of which is called 18 actors: acting. Here to tell you more about his very creative and very entrepreneurial project is second year drama student Max Woertendyke.

(To hear more about Max’s film, visit www.18actors.com.)