A Conversation with ARTISIN President Susan Koblin Schear
In the 17 years since founding ARTISIN, Susan has worked with clients around the country. And she has found that artists and arts groups everywhere face similar challenges, from insufficient funding, to lack of community support, to an absence of skills critical to ensuring stability and success. Her interactions with her clients have helped shape not only the scope and depth of services ARTISIN offers, but also her holistic view of the arts and their place in the community. Here is some of what she had to say in a recent conversation:
“There is sometimes a disconnect between espousing your values and actually living them. It’s not enough for me to just provide professional guidance and consultation to my clients. If I believe in supporting the arts then I have to live that as well. Of course I’ll try to go see my clients’ shows and performances, but I also make the effort to patronize other artists and arts groups who are not my clients. I know how much time and effort these people put into their work, and what it means to them. This applies not just to performing and visual artists, but to craftsmen and artisans as well.”
“One of the things I do for my clients is help them get connected, both within the arts community and to the community at large. Art is sometimes a solo enterprise but its benefits are felt by the entire community. I believe strongly that everyone benefits — both those who create the art and those who enjoy it — when artists and arts organizations are strategically connected to other sectors of the community. We do it through public/private partnerships, sponsorships, collaborations with local businesses and institutions…all of these things help sustain the arts that enrich everyone’s lives.”
On working with clients
“I want to be an effective advocate for my clients, and one of the most important ways to do this is to listen very carefully. If my client is an organization, I listen not just to the management, but to the staff and the board as well, and to the customers who pay to see their work. I work hard to establish trust with my clients. You have to show respect to the clients and to the other stakeholders and community participants if you expect to bring them on board.
“At ARTISIN, we take a holistic approach to working with our clients. All aspects of their professional practice are connected even if they don’t see it at first. Often it happens in the listening process that I discover a problem that the client didn’t know they had. So it’s important to be flexible and tailor your services to what the client really needs, rather than what they think they need.
“I tend to become involved with my clients and find myself helping them with issues that are not in the scope of the project. The downside is, I give myself more work. The upside is, many of them end up becoming good friends.”
People often hesitate to work in collaboration with others because they’re afraid that someone will “steal” their ideas. You can’t be stopped by that fear. Creativity is nurtured by bringing different ideas and styles together. Allay that fear by becoming allies working towards a common goal. Creative collaborations can yield spectacular and rewarding results. You have to be charitable. You have to be willing to take the risk.”
Susan Koblin Schear, President
With ARTISIN, Susan Schear has worked with and advised a wide array of clients throughout the country, including local, regional and state arts councils; museums, theaters and performing arts centers; universities and colleges; public radio stations; arts service organizations, unions and professional organizations.
Susan Schear is a teacher and thesis advisor at Pratt Institute in New York City for students in the Masters Program for Arts & Management. She has developed and taught a business-planning course for artists and designers through NY Designs, a program of LaGuardia Community College/City University of New York (CUNY), and has taught at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies and Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.).
As a lecturer, Susan Schear appears regularly throughout the country. She is an established speaker, moderator and facilitator for panels and workshops for arts-related entrepreneurs and arts organizations on subjects such as business and strategic planning, marketing and planning, branding, time management, collaboration, project planning and budgeting, and leadership and team building.
An active board trustee, Susan Schear is on the board of Craft in America. She has served on the board of CERF+ (Craft Emergency Relief Fund + Artists’ Emergency Resources) and still serves on the national, multi-organization disaster planning committee. She serves on the advisory and work committees for ArtsPlan NJ, and has chaired the steering committee for the Arts and Business Council of New York (ABC/NY), National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) New York.
Susan Schear has published articles in publications including the Artists’ Toolbox, an initiative of the NEA through New York Foundation for the Arts, the Kennedy Center Opening Stages publication for people with disabilities, and the Arts and Business Council. In 2010, she was recognized as one of New Jersey’s “Best 50 Women in Business”. She has received press in Times-Ledger, Business News New Jersey and Money Magazine and has appeared on the National Public Radio series “Enterprising Women.”
Photo: Amelia Panico
Maureen Vanacore, MBA
Since joining ARTISIN in 2000, Maureen has provided consulting services including the development of marketing and strategic business plans. Maureen also conducts market research and plans, organizes and facilitates focus groups and roundtable discussions. She creates seminar and workshop presentations and has participated in the planning, development and execution of arts and business conferences throughout the country. Maureen is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in the Department of Art and Media Studies teaching graduate and undergraduate classes in Communications.
After more than ten years working with a variety of corporations ranging in budget from several million to Fortune 500, Maureen pursued an MBA in management and international business, graduating summa cum laude, from Fairleigh Dickinson University. While at Fairleigh Dickinson, she was awarded a Graduate Business Fellowship and served in that capacity for two years. Her master’s thesis, developed while attending a summer program at Trinity College, Dublin, outlined how cultural tourism could and should be a catalyst for economic development in Ireland’s rural west.
Maureen is an avid supporter of the arts and advocate for arts education, volunteering with several non-profit organizations in her spare time. She served as a founding member and Board President of the Oradell Arts and Business Coalition.
Development & Marketing Consultant
Julie Marino is a writer/editor specializing in grant writing, marketing and corporate communications.
With over two decades of experience in both the non-profit and for-profit arenas, Julie combines effective corporate communications techniques with a comprehensive understanding of the non-profit fundraising landscape. She creates targeted fund-raising and communication materials, including grant proposals, direct mail and online membership and annual giving campaigns, brochures and promotional pieces, as well as newsletters and video and web content.
Julie has put her skills and talents to work in the service of arts and culture organizations including the South Street Seaport Museum, King Manor and Morris-Jumel Manor (both member institutions of the Historic House Trust of New York), the Studio Museum of Harlem, ReVision Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey and Pier Studios in New York City.
Like ARTISIN president Susan Schear, Julie is an avid fan and fervent believer in the transformative power of the arts.
Charles Ryder is a freelance designer specializing in website and print design for artists, musicians and arts organizations.
Ryder joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art Design Department after receiving his Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University. He then worked freelance, designing for the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, the American Federation of the Arts, Yale University Art Gallery, and the Benaki Collection (Athens). He designed al-Sabah Collection of Islamic Art at the Kuwait National Museum, and toured the Middle East on behalf of the State Department.
He emigrated to England in 1983 and continued working for museums and galleries, designing the New Sculpture Gallery and Lady Lever Art Gallery exhibitions for National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, and exhibition designs for Historic Royal Palaces, Hampton Court and the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle.
Now in the midst of his ‘third career’, Ryder is busy with a wide range of website projects featuring work by some really talented people. He also finds time for a bit of painting.
See more of Charles’s work at ryderdesign.co.uk.