Institutions urged to teach entrepreneurship to artists

Institutions that teach music and art have been urged to incorporate artist entrepreneurship education to prepare local artists for worldwide success. 

This call was made during the Hustlers Summit cocktail and reception party held Thursday in Bulawayo at the NUST American Space themed, ‘Hope and Hustle.’ 

Speaking during the event, Tsege Tadesse Belachew, an entrepreneurship lecturer visiting from the United States (US) highlighted the importance of demystifying entrepreneurship for creatives. 

“Institutions need to help creatives unlock the thinking of ‘how do I take my artistry up and monetise it? How do I take my artistry and take it into entrepreneurship? What does that look like?’ In our collaborations at the University of Maryland, we’ve been collaborating with the arts for all and various arts creative departments, and we’ve been having a lot of conversations with on their day to day lives,” Belachew said. 

“What does it look like? They’re studying these things, right? Graphic design and music. There are three themes that I see from those conversations translating into practical measures that they can take. One is there’s this mystery about entrepreneurship. Is entrepreneurship for me? What is it? Is it relevant? It’s very intimidating.”

Belachew said there is a need for practical education alongside artistic training to navigate the complexities of monetising one’s craft and venturing into entrepreneurship. 

 “You’re being educated on your artistry and you love your passion, but you need that practical side to really take it to the next level. We also have the opportunity, especially in the universities, to think about really clearly outlining what it looks like to be a creative,” she said.

“What does it mean to take my skills and try to create a profession out of it, be self employed, think of financial independence, think of financial wealth, and what is that going to take?”

The visiting lecturer  underscored the significance of equipping artists with entrepreneurship skills to access global platforms and opportunities, referencing prominent figures like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg as examples of success to aspire to. 

 “You know, these famous people who have made so much money, or you see these celebrities that are on the global stage and the Grammys getting these awards, right, Burna Boy and whatnot. It’s not clear how you get from where you are in school to where that is -where you’re making a lot of money or you’re accessing that big platform.”

Belachew said she believes in the power of the collective, where communities have a role in providing support and sharing resources to bolster entrepreneurship skills among artists.

She also highlighted the potential for collective action to leverage social capital and access industry platforms.
“So, whether or not there are these institutional supports, like what I was describing with the university, the community itself can share information, can leverage the social capital that it has, and strengthen skills focused on entrepreneurship,” said Belachew.

“Each of us is able to assess what value is there in this collective to help us access the platforms. I’m sure if you ask amongst yourselves and your followers, there’s some way, there’s some connection to somebody out there in the music industry. I believe If we pause right now, we ask that question, there’s some connection there, whether it’s in South Africa, whether it’s in America.  But even here, if you bring that talent and you have that collective, I think there is a lot that can be done.” 

Belachew claimed there is a huge market for the African diaspora artists adding that people “are hungry for our culture, our stories, images.”

“Represent these on all these global platforms, and there is a market for it,” she said. 

Organiser of Hustlers Summit, Nkosana Mazibisa, urged artists to collaborate rather than compete. 

“Why we chose ‘hope and hustle’ is because hustling is not easy, so we need hope that there is a better tomorrow. We can become the best version of ourselves. I want to emphasise this, ‘Don’t think Makokoba, think globally.’ Don’t think you are competing with the next person next to you, you are collaborating with them. Treat the landscape at a global level, see the next person next to you as an associate, collaborate,” Mazibisa said. 

“Bulawayo is too small for all of us to complete, the sky is too big for every star to shine. Know your place and shine together, thus why we have hope and hustle.”

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