SFU launches creative entrepreneurship class

Photos courtesy of The Vancouver Sun

An SFU hub of creativity, the School for Contemporary Arts based out of SFU Woodwards will soon offer an educational experience that mixes fine arts and business, with a new class this spring semester.

There has yet to be a course at SFU specifically to push nearly-graduated students towards a path in which they could use their creative skills within a business idea of their creation.

This led to the Creative Entrepreneurship class, created and led by Howard Jang and Jon Festinger, SFU professors of professional practice.

Howard Jang, the director of SFU Woodwards and co-professor of the class, explained that the course is designed with the goal of “helping the artist” to “develop a career around what they are passionate about.

“We’re looking at a dancer, a filmmaker, a theater artist or a designer, and really helping them take what they’ve been drawn to as their life’s passion and make a career out of it, [. . .] building a life out of it,” he said.

“We’re giving them tools [with] which to understand who they are as an artist.”

Howard Jang, SFU professor of professional practice

The class is not meant to create business leaders out of the artists, and not all students need to have a fully developed plan for their future. Jang described how the class will use what they’ve coined as the “toolbox approach.” He explained, “For this particular situation, we are asking them: What’s your idea, how do you want to move it forward, and what’s the first thing you are going to do?”

The two professors realise that the information they provide to their students might not be relevant to all of them right away. However, they hope that students will find it comes in handy later on as they further develop their creative ventures.

“We’re giving them tools [with] which to understand who they are as an artist, how to talk about what they’re passionate about, and then figure out ways in which to move their career forward.”

The course will also look at how to strategically plan for the future with finances in mind. Jang added that students will be provided with “the opportunity to understand the basics of building relationships within the community, how to do grant writing, and how to find resources in the private sector.”

At the end of the program, students emerge with a “personal plan” rather than a business plan, one of the key things that differentiates it from a business entrepreneurship program.

Jang explained that instead of solely focusing on how to monetize an idea, this class encourages the student to “really progress as an artist and figure out the things and experiences you want to have as an artist, and how to build a life around that.” They’ll have the resources to further their growth, and “it won’t be so much of a dark hole to them anymore.”

Instead of focusing on the many steps that gets them to an end result, the personal plan lays out the first couple steps they can take to realizing their artistic goals and dreams.

The creative entrepreneurship class is aimed at third and fourth year students and it is open to enrollment by all SFU students, with priority given to students within the School for Contemporary Arts. The class will be running Fall 2015 and Spring 2016.