The Business of Art: Earning a Living as an Artist

Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 quarters

Taught by

music composition
public administration, urban planning, librarianship

This program is designed for business and arts students with a strong interest in making a living as an entrepreneur, operating in the nonprofit art world, or making a career in creative industries, and bridging the conventional gaps between creativity, business sense, and social engagement. An artist or entrepreneur who understands the principles of a well-run organization and can deal effectively with management issues like economics, finance, business planning, marketing, negotiating contracts, legal issues such as free speech and fair use, applying for grants, and strategic planning, we'll find, is likely to gain more artistic and professional freedom. For-profit and nonprofit organizations are different, and we want to make sure students gain knowledge of the vast range of ways they can make a living in and around the arts. By examining art, music, and theatre worlds, we will discover structures that help foster vibrant artistic communities—but also basic business and entrepreneurship principles applicable in many other contexts, including the entertainment and media industries. We'll meet business and nonprofit leaders (often artists themselves) who bring artists and art lovers together. We'll cover concepts in economics, gain critical reasoning skills, and learn about entrepreneurship, how to start a business, and management as a profession. We'll cover topics like strategic planning, tax and copyright law, prices and markets, promotion and marketing, budgeting, fundraising, job-hunting using social media, and working with employees, customers, and boards of trustees.

Activities in the program will include options for related independent creative work and research on working artists, workshops on how to create and read complex spreadsheets and budgets, career counseling, and a rich mix of critical and creative projects, including a series of visits to local arts organizations and with Evergreen alumni active in many creative endeavors, followed by further research, analysis, and critiques. Each quarter's work will include an optional week of travel and study to a big city in the United States: to New York City during the fall and Los Angeles during the winter. Students unable to travel to these cities can pursue related fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest. By the end of the program we expect you to have developed practical skills in financial literacy and career-building, be able to think creatively about ways to connect your own artistic and wage-earning work lives, have an impact on organizations in communities you care about, acquire firsthand knowledge of a diversity of successful arts initiatives, and communicate effectively in the languages of business and nonprofit administration.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

business, finance, economics, nonprofit management, performing arts, visual arts, and arts management.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$1,500 in fall and $1,400 in winter, for travel to New York City (fall) and Los Angeles (winter), for a total of $2,900 for both trips. The trips are optional, and local fieldwork may be substituted.

Internship Possibilities

Students are welcome to arrange internships during spring quarter. Students pursuing this option must complete an In-program Internship Learning Contract (designed for this program) in consultation with the faculty and Academic Advising.

Research Possibilities

Via iterative critiques of organizations, students will emerge with some research skills in business and organizational research. Via arts and artist research projects, students will emerge with knowledge about how to find out about the financial arrangements behind most major artists' careers.

May be offered again in


Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 60


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10119
So (16 credits): 10120

Go to to register for this program.


Accepting New Students


We welcome new students in winter, and will start with some review of our fall work. Please read all of the book, "The Profitable Artist" (available on reserve at the library and for sale at the bookstore--219 pages). Reading this book will help you catch up with our work from the fall! 

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20058
So (16 credits): 20059

Go to to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.