A new incubator in Pittsburgh, FUTUREMAKERS Labs, debuts at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater | Blogh

A new incubator in Pittsburgh, FUTUREMAKERS Labs, debuts at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

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PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK SIMPSON
  • Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson
If you're an artist or entrepreneur frustrated by a lack of resources and networking opportunities in Pittsburgh, a new incubator at Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, in East Liberty, might be what you're looking for. FUTUREMAKERS Labs is a 12-week incubator running from April to June that offers training, workshops and networking for Pittsburghers seeking to connect with the city's burgeoning arts and nonprofit communities, but are unsure where to start. That may sound vague, but the open-ended approach is no mistake.

On its website, the theater wrote: "KST believes that diversity of skill, thought, and identity amongst creative entrepreneurs is key to the success of any thriving city. Diverse game-changers from across various industries and disciplines are encouraged to apply to this opportunity."

City Paper caught up with FM's project coordinator Darrell Kinsel, via email, to discuss his goals and motivations for the program.

What was the inspiration for this project?

We want to continue to amplify KST's mission as a catalyst for creative expression. The incubator, created by Janera Solomon and myself, is the second of a series of programs developed by KST to expand the role of art institutions. To be relevant and responsive to community needs and to continue to identify talented creatives operating on Penn Avenue and in Pittsburgh.

What is the vision behind FUTUREMAKERS?

The vision of FUTUREMAKERS Labs is to foster creative, community-centered practice and reinforce an initiative to connect diverse creative technology and business.

Why are “incubators” important in arts communities?

Incubators provide artists and creative entrepreneurs with a distinct place and network to innovate, test and scale. It also breaks these individuals outside of traditional studio practice, which can be isolating as you are testing out new concepts.

How did you learn about the business side to art, and when did you commit to art as a career?

I learned about the entrepreneurial side of art by studying artists, producers, curators and leaders who have a larger view of how “arts and culture” naturally intersect with the real world. So nationally, there are examples such as Theaster Gates, Rick Lowe and Umberto Crenca. Some local examples of leaders that have had a direct impact on developing my view of "art as a business” are Phil Koch, Janera Solomon, Christiane Leach and Nate Mitchell.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a working artist in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is a place where you can be both easily frustrated and comfortable in relation to your artistic and administrative advancements. I think that Pittsburgh artists sometimes are not fully aware of opportunities in markets that are close geographically, but very different in size and maturity. It is important to develop your skills at home, but also take the leap into other creative markets such to see audience reaction to products and services.

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The deadline for FUTUREMAKERS Labs is Fri., March 24. Submit here.

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