Responding to the Needs and Challenges of Arts Entrepreneurs

An Exploratory Study of Arts Entrepreneurship in North Carolina Higher Education


  • Dianne H.B. Welsh University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Tamaki Onishi University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Ruth H. DeHoog University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Sumera Syed University of North Carolina at Greensboro


To address the call for examination of academic and professional approaches to arts entrepreneurship, we summarize the academic arts entrepreneurship programs in the State of North Carolina and conduct a pilot study with data gathered from arts entrepreneurs who attended the 5th annual Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. Our review of the descriptive data reveals that arts entrepreneurs face a variety of needs and challenges, which are psychological (e.g., peer support) as well as technical (e.g., start-up skills). These findings suggest that, as prior literature stresses, arts entrepreneurship education programs should entail both the “entrepreneurship mindset” aspect and the “venture creation” aspect, so we advocate a holistic approach that combines both these perspectives with other related courses. We conclude, based on our exploratory study, that collaborative and flexible approaches, such as cross-campus programs for arts entrepreneurship education in higher education, could have beneficial outcomes for art entrepreneurs. Implications for future research are discussed.

Author Biographies

Dianne H.B. Welsh, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

DIANNE H.B. WELSH is the Hayes Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Founding Director of the Entrepreneurship Programs at The University of North Carolina Greensboro, including the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center and the Entrepreneurship Cross-Disciplinary Program. She has previously founded two entrepreneurship programs and centers and has held three endowed professorships. In 2015, Dianne was named the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurship for Central Europe in 2015. She was honored with the Senior Teaching Award for the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 2015 and was the December Commencement Speaker. She is also a visiting professor at the renowned Aalto University International Business program as well as teaching in Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. Dianne is a recognized scholar in family business, international entrepreneurship, women-owned businesses and franchising and has seven books and over 150 publications. Her research has been published in AMJ, JIBS, ET&P, JBV, FBR, JSBM, and JFBS, among other journals. She has three new books, Creative Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurship, published by Palgrave-Macmillan, Global Entrepreneurship (3rd edition forthcoming), and Case Studies in Global Entrepreneurship (2nd edition forthcoming), published by Kendall-Hunt. She serves on numerous journal editorial review boards. She served as the 2015 Chair for the Technology and Innovation Management Division of the Academy of Management with 2,700 members. Dianne is a Fellow in the Family Firm Institute, U.S. Association for Small Business & Entrepreneurship, and Small Business Institute. She is a Certified Family Business Counselor and holds the Senior Profession in Human Resources certification. She served as a Presidential Appointee to the US Air Force Academy and the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services (DACOWITS). Dianne delivered the keynote address at the U.N.E.C.E. Conference in Azerbaijan in 2012. She held the Fulbright-Hall Distinguished Chair for Entrepreneurship in Central Europe at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) in the spring of 2015. She has consulted for Fortune 50 businesses, family businesses, franchises, and high growth businesses throughout the world. Dianne has assisted seven universities in implementing programs across campus in the US and Australia.

Tamaki Onishi, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Tamaki Onishi is assistant professor and teaches courses in the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) Program including Nonprofit Management and Leadership and Philanthropy and Resource Development.  She also advises our nonprofit management certificate students.  She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University.  Her current research involves entrepreneurial and institutional theories on social entrepreneurship and investment.  She also conducted comparative research on fundraising and launched international projects promoting philanthropy in Japan in conjunction with Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and major nonprofits, such as United Ways.  With funding form the Association of Fundraising Professionals, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Japan Foundation and other funders, she published her work in peer-reviewed journals and national studies on philanthropy, including International Journal of Educational Advancement and Giving USA.  Prior to her academic career, she worked for both nonprofits and for-profit firms, such as WNET in New York and Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, for over a decade.

Ruth H. DeHoog, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Ruth Hoogland DeHoog is professor of political science.  She teaches courses in Public Administration &Management, Organizational Behavior & Leadership, and Local Government Administration. Her current research examines how public services are provided through a complex mix of government and nonprofit agencies. Her publications on privatization, urban service delivery, city management, and government-nonprofit relations in former Communist countries have appeared in several academic journals. She co-authored The Politics of Dissatisfaction: Citizens, Services, and Urban Institutions(1992) and wrote Contracting Out for Human Services: Economic, Political, and Organizational Perspectives (1984). Her community-engaged research projects have included the role of faith communities in refugee resettlement services, human relations attitudes among Greensboro residents, welfare reform in North Carolina counties, and several aspects of revitalization efforts in High Point’s Macedonia community. Both undergraduate and graduate students have participated in these research projects.

Sumera Syed, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Sumera’s passion for nonprofit work began with an internship in Montana for Project Vote Smart. Prior to joining NCECF, she worked as a Program Coordinator with Guilford Adult Health. She also served as a Research and External Communications Consultant with the North Carolina Humanities Council and an Organizational Support Specialist at Partners Ending Homelessness. At Partners Ending Homelessness, she coordinated logistics for leadership training and events to teach service providers how to effectively and compassionately work with the homeless population in Guilford County.

Sumera holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Appalachian State University and a Master of Public Administration/Affairs degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Sumera is a recent transplant to Raleigh where she lives with her husband, baby and cat.




How to Cite

Welsh, D., Onishi, T., DeHoog, R., & Syed, S. (2014). Responding to the Needs and Challenges of Arts Entrepreneurs: An Exploratory Study of Arts Entrepreneurship in North Carolina Higher Education. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, 3(2), 21–37. Retrieved from