ArtWorks Cincinnati

Funding Received: 2011
Cincinnati, OH
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
June 4, 2012

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 neighborhoods with these creative industries, retaining and attracting local talent.

In addition to an 8 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 for entrepreneurs continues to strengthen the creative community throughout the region. With a grand opening at the end of June, thanks to funding from ArtPlace, ArtWorks will unveil a new space to support the program. Not only will this place host classes and round tables, it will provide ongoing mentorship and a collaborative work space for entrepreneurs.

ArtPlace spoke with Sarah Corlett, Director for SpringBoard, about the most effective strategies ArtWorks has employed to attract artisans and creative entrepreneurs to the program.

ARTPLACE: What have been your most effective strategies for attracting the attention of people who matter?

CORTLETT:The SpringBoard curriculum demands that entrepreneurs consider their target markets. This is the first step to developing an effective communications and marketing strategy. Define the audience. Who are the people that matter? For us, it is designers, artists and creatives who have a hunger for entrepreneurship and no end to great ideas. It is also experts from local accounting, legal and other professional firms who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and understand the important role of this creative sector in our local economy.

When SpringBoard was first preparing to launch last June, I connected with local design and art schools, attending craft fairs and exploring Cincinnati neighborhoods to find out where the creative energy was most prevalent. There was a plethora of creative individuals who had started their own ventures or were eager to do so. ArtWorks formed a relationship with Soapbox Media, an online magazine with 30,000 subscribers – readers who identify with the creative sector and search for information on new developments, new companies and unique things to do. Other targeted media outlets were eager to feature the program and forty individuals applied when registration opened last May, hoping to fill one of 10 spots available in the first course. Social media and online news outlets have also been effective ways for ArtWorks to reach its target audience. These features certainly helped to find local expertise to assist in the training, SpringBoad, in addition to reaching out to other entrepreneurial training programs for recommendations on individuals and firms who could contribute.

Ongoing stories on SpringBoard entrepreneurs and the sharing of a these individual successes have allowed ArtWorks to attract the participants for the class and the expertise required to ensure the content is rich and meaningful. Recently SpringBoard enlisted the help of the Soapbox Media team and the Queen City Project to tell the story of these creative entrepreneurs and their attraction to Cincinnati. So discover your target market, figure out their most likely sources of information and find great storytellers.

PHOTO: SpringBoard director Sarah Cortlett, in a still from the above video