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Art Econ 101

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The UrbanArt Commission and Crosstown Arts are teaming up to present a "One Hour Business School for Artists," an economic survey for the working artist presented by Amy Whitaker, an artist, academic, and author of Museum Legs: Fatigue and Hope in the Face of Art. Here's what Whitaker had to say about the uncomfortable juncture of art and economics:

Flyer: You need to be a creative problem solver to fold everything you need to know from business into one class. Do you use origami?

Amy Whitaker: I've been teaching the class since 2004, and it changes every time. But I start with a metaphor about business.

Why do artists often start their careers without the basic tools they need to operate as a business?

I don't want to speak for everybody, because some artists have excellent business knowledge. But there are two or maybe three reasons. There has been a kind of bias against economics, because it's seen as a kind of selling out. Also, there are artists who are really passionate about their work, and that's where they focus all of their attention. The third thing is that art and economics are uneasy bedfellows, because economics is about determining what the value of something is now, while art is about making things that are truly new.

What's the big takeaway from your class?

A lot of artists feel helpless. They feel like the economy is something that happens to them. I want them to feel "agency." I want people who come into this class angry at banks to leave curious about how banking works. Artists are creative problem solvers. I want them to solve the economy.

"One Hour Business School for Artists," at Crosstown Arts, 27 N. Watkins, Thursday, March 10th, 6 p.m.: food and drinks;

7 p.m.: lecture, with discussion to follow. Free.

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