Follow Your Muse, Pursue a Career

For centuries, artists have followed their muse. But the muse doesn’t always lead to commercial success.

To help, the Iowa Arts Council launched the ArtUps program in 2014 to give artists the tools and resources they need to simultaneously fulfill their creative visions and build their careers in Iowa.

“As new developments in technologies, public perception, marketplaces, demographics and aesthetic practices create new challenges for artists, they’re also creating new opportunities to build successful careers,” says Veronica O’Hern of the Iowa Arts Council. “The ArtUps help artists meet those challenges head-on and make the most of those opportunities.”

The ArtUps launch was particularly timely. Just last September, the National Endowment for the Arts released the results of a “Creativity Connects” study that revealed:

  • The population of artists is growing and diversifying, and norms about who is considered an artist are changing.
  • Substantial numbers of artists now work in interdisciplinary ways.
  • Many artists are finding work as artists in non-arts contexts.
  • Artists are pursuing new opportunities to work entrepreneurially.
  • Technology is altering the context and economics of artists’ work.
  • Artists share challenging economic conditions with other segments of the workforce.
  • Structural inequities in the artists’ ecosystem mirror inequities in society more broadly.

Those national findings are reflected here in Iowa, where arts-related businesses employ nearly 24,000 people. But that number grows to 73,000 — about four percent of the state’s workforce — when you count the number of people working in jobs that require creativity and fine-arts skill sets. That’s more than the entire population of Waterloo.

If you’re an artist, arts organization or a community leader, you can hop on the ArtUps train when it rolls out with new online and in-person sessions over the next few months. Movers and shakers from five different arts and marketing organizations will lead you through the following presentations:

  • “Basic Branding Principles,” presented by Saturday Manufacturing
  • “How to Be An Awesome Board Member,” presented by Ignited Fundraising
  • “Basics of the Arts Business Model,” presented by American University Arts Management
  • “Demystifying Public Art,” presented by Creative Capital
  • “Grant Writing 101: It’s More Than Writing,” presented by Third Sector Consulting

The sessions are free, but you’ll need to register for them in advance. You can also organize viewing parties in your community to watch the online webinars as a group.

All of our past ArtUp sessions have been recorded and are available for you online. View the ArtUps archive.