Partnership Strategies for Creative Placemaking in Teaching Entrepreneurial Artists

  • Amy Whitaker New York University


As entrepreneurship education for artists expands, business strategy itself gets adapted to the particular ways in which artists are creative placemakers. Traditional business strategy is based on competition for scarce resources—as exemplified in Michael Porter's iconic Porter's Five Forces analysis and as extended to non-profit management by Sharon Oster's Sixth Force which includes donors. Yet creative placemaking often entails collaboration. Even in underfunded fields in which resources are in fact scarce, business strategy frameworks that are based on partnership and collaboration—most notably Brandenberger and Nalebuff's “ValueNet”—better suit community engagement and partnership strategies associated with creative placemaking. This paper takes as a case study a workshop taught to choreographers and other movement artists at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, in collaboration with the Actors Fund. The core question of the ValueNet—“If I succeed, who succeeds with me?"—has led to unexpected ways of mapping the ecosystem of the arts, and fruitful community engagement. In reimagining business strategy more holistically, this approach is also part of a larger pedagogy toward a principles-based, rather than rules-based, model of teaching business as a creative design medium itself.

Author Biography

Amy Whitaker, New York University

Amy Whitaker is an assistant professor in Visual Arts Administration and a longstanding researcher, teacher, and mentor at the intersections of art, economics, and politics.

Amy is author of the books ART THINKING and MUSEUM LEGS and of numerous scholarly articles, artists' projects, white papers, and essays. Holding both an MFA and an MBA, Amy has written business-for-artists curricula for the New Museum Incubator and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and taught art-economics classes at Williams College, the School of Visual Arts, California College of the Arts, and the Sotheby's Institute. Amy is a past president of the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts and a past mentor for the TED Fellows program. She began her career in art museums including the Guggenheim, MoMA, and Tate, and worked after art school for the hedge fund manager D.E. Shaw & Co., L.P.

Her work--including research on fractional equity, blockchain, economics, and art as well as her social-practice teaching at Occupy Wall Street and Trade School--has been covered in the New York Times, the Financial Times, Harper's, the Atlantic, Art Forum, the Art Newspaper, Artsy, Forbes, the Boston Globe, Vanity Fair, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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