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SpringBoard is a program from ArtWorks of Cincinnati made possible in part by an ArtPlace grant of $150,000. The goal is to provide artisans and creative entrepreneurs with business development training and a collaborative work space in the city’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which will be home to a proposed streetcar line. Ultimately SpringBoard will enliven neighborhood business districts with these creative industries, retaining and attracting local talent. Since its launch in June of 2011, SpringBoard has trained 53 creative entrepreneurs. On March 6th a fifth cohort of entrepreneurs begins their journey to becoming successful small business owners.

In addition to an eight-week business planning course, entrepreneurs have access to monthly Round Tables that cover in depth topics such as small business insurance, intellectual property law, property development and social media tools. This ongoing support of the entrepreneurs continues to strengthen the creative community in the region.

Construction on the new incubation space starts at the end of March. In a unique collaboration between design/build firms and SpringBoard graduates Dixon Branded and Such + Such the furniture in this space will represent the creativity and energy of the program. We talked with Sarah Cortlett about how Springboard benefits from collaborations:

ARTPLACE: Do you have partners on the project?

ArtWorks rarely does anything without partners and SpringBoard is no exception! Each class and each round table involves professionals from local firms. Accountants, attorneys, bankers, social media gurus and others lend their time and energy. These individuals share their expertise with our entrepreneurs and bring a level of skill and knowledge that provides SpringBoarders with the best tool kit for succeeding in business. Our facilitators, current or former entrepreneurs who spend all 8 weeks with participants, use their own networks and connections to help these start ups.

Even our incubation space involves pro bono drawings from an architect and creative financing from our landlord. ArtWorks also counts on partners and those relationships

ARTPLACE: What is the toughest thing about collaboration?

The most challenging thing about collaboration is of course getting all entities on the same page. ArtWorks finds partners that share common core values – partners who believe that the arts are an important part of our communities and economy. At times, partners have different means to the same vision and compromise and understanding is required from both sides. Sometimes though, the visions of the partners vary differently and it takes time to arrive in the same place. Perhaps you recognize that the visions aren’t aligned at all and the collaboration just isn’t working.

ARTPLACE: What is the most rewarding thing about collaboration?

Collaboration fuels innovation. This is evident among the SpringBoard entrepreneurs. Each cohort possesses a different dynamic, different sector, different skill sets. But inevitably entrepreneurs connect with one another and a new product, a new service or a new business model emerge. They barter for goods and services and they feed off any opportunity to share ideas.

ARTPLACE: What advice would you give to those having trouble making a collaboration work?

Ask the question “Do we share the same core values? Do we share the same vision?” If you do, than chances are you differ on the approach or process taken to reach that vision and perhaps there needs to be more compromise on both sides. But ultimately, at the end of the day, each collaborator should feel proud of the outcome that emerges from that the collective work of the group.

PHOTO: Melody Wolf of Olive Branch Metals

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