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Artists begin Olympic-style business training

By Meghan Gallagher

“Jump Sam Jump Rio 2016” banners decorate local businesses as Oxford sets its sights on Ole Miss athlete-turned Olympian this week.

Here in Oxford, artists — like the Olympians — are beginning a season of training on Monday to develop a successful creative arts small business through the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council’s Arts Incubator Workshop Series.

University of Mississippi Small Business Development Center Director James Carden will kick-off the series with a talk about the initial hurdles of “Starting a business — First Steps & How to Write a Business Plan.”

The free workshop will be held at the UMSBDC at 4 p.m. at 122 Jeannette Phillips Drive.

Building small business

Like an Olympian, proper technique and consistent training are essential for success. Carden and his staff found that business owners had a greater chance of success with no less than eight consulting sessions.

“Building a small business is like Olympic swimming or track because you’re trying to beat your personal best,” said Caitlin Hopper, operations manager for YAC. “An artist needs a strong understanding of the product, the audience, and how to connect them. You need tools to help build a strong social media presence and then develop it into a habit. When the foundation is there, my job as a promoter of arts events for the Arts Council is easier and helps ensure the success of the event — be it a concert, retail opportunity, or exhibition.”

Kayleigh Graham has attended the workshops for her own small business.

“I love how the workshops bring together artists in different media — performing, visual — it’s a really cool collaboration,” Graham said. “Oxford attracts a wide variety of artists and a regional audience — like the Olympics a worldwide one.”

Helping artists

The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council launched the workshops in 2009 and became a quarterly series in 2014, when Gov. Phil Bryant declared the year of the creative economy. Since that time, workshops have

helped over a 100 regional artists gain access to small business classes and networking opportunities. This year the workshops will be monthly beginning in August, funded in part by an ArtWorks grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

“An exciting part of the Olympics are the relationships and backstory about the athletes competing and the trainers who guide them,” said Wayne Andrews, YAC director. “We’re excited that YAC is able to offer this kind of support to artists and arts organizations so they can reach the next level in their business.”