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Title: The difficulty of practising fine artists in making a living : why arts entrepreneurship education is important
Author: Thom, Marco
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 3434
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2017
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This study identifies six key reasons explaining the social phenomenon that many practising fine artists find it so difficult to make a living in the arts. Due to a marked paucity of research explaining this social phenomenon, the study at hand investigates the internal factors related to artists’ personality, motivation, and skills as well as various external factors influencing artists’ working and business environment by applying two acknowledged analysis tools in strategic business management. The literature findings highlight four external threat factors mainly responsible for a very challenging working and business environment affecting practising fine artists’ chances of professional success. Consequently, two internal factors – notably artists’ motivation and ambition to conduct business and a living in the arts as well as their developed skills – turn out to be key factors to successfully deal with these external threat factors. In this context, three research aims related to practising artists’ professional education and preparation arise: the identification of crucial skills to successfully make a living in the arts as practising artists, the status of their professional education at higher education institutions (HEIs), and the capability of arts incubators as alternative education programmes to prepare large numbers of practising fine artists for professional success. The approach to investigation is exploratory and inductive with a cross-sectional survey strategy. To identify the crucial skills for professional success in the arts, surveys of up to 219 fine art lecturers, 168 fine art undergraduates, and 149 commercial galleries are conducted. To report on the status of fine artists’ educational preparation, 87 undergraduate degree programmes, 55 post-graduate programmes, and 46 extracurricular training offerings at HEIs are investigated. The study focuses mainly on the UK and Germany. These countries are selected due to their significantly different market sizes and reputation for the purpose of identifying differences in market challenges and professional preparations faced by fine artists. To analyse arts incubators’ capability in preparing large numbers of practising fine artists for a professional career, 92 arts incubation programmes around the globe are analysed and nine structured interviews with practising fine artists are conducted. The investigation of the crucial skills for fine artists’ professional success highlights in particular the development of an entrepreneurial mindset as well as of seven skills. Research on arts education shows evidence that fine art graduates are hardly equipped with this skillset and mindset due to HEIs’ lack of focus on the professional careers of practising artists. The analysis of arts incubation programmes illustrates serious limitations in supporting larger numbers of practising fine artists in their professional endeavours. The research findings stimulate the discussion in, and contribute to, knowledge in the fields of artists’ professional preparation, arts entrepreneurship, and the redesigning of fine art curriculum to purposefully prepare fine art graduates for an entrepreneurial and professional career as practising artists.
Supervisor: Patel, Shushma ; Patel, Dilip Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral