Connecting Business and Art

The Arts Business Initiative was launched in 2012 in response to an identified need on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.  Our artistic and creative communities were in need of business skills, which would allow them to thrive in creative industries once they left campus.  Through the initial spark and funding of a Kauffman Foundation Grant, led by Stephanie Jutt of the School of Music, the Bolz Center for Arts Administration partnered with Jutt to fund and deliver a suite of arts and business coursework, under the heading of Arts Enterprise, which became both a course and a franchised club on campus.

Arts Enterprise curriculum marked the beginning of a partnership with the School of Business in the drive to offer business skills and foundational coursework in business and entrepreneurship to artists and other creatives on campus.  Arts Enterprise has been followed up by the development of additional coursework, an entrepreneurship competition called the New Arts Venture Challenge (founded by Jutt and now funded and supported by the Arts Institute), the connection of coursework and internship credit to the Certificate of Entrepreneurship, which is available to any student on campus, and coursework and training for BBA students in aesthetic development for leadership training.

ABI was funded for a three-year period from 2012- 2015, through the School of Business Innovation Fund and the Provost's office of the UW-Madison campus.  During this period of growth, the ABI oversaw the expansion of the Arts Enterprise class and the introduction of the Department of Continuing Studies as a partner in the AE class. 

During the second year of ABI, two new offerings were piloted, the Non-Profit Board Leadership class and the Arts Business Research Symposium.  These additions brought about new students involvement and partnerships with Morgridge Center for Public Service and Forward Community Investments (board leadership) and a symposium partnership with Arizona State University.  These offerings were designed to broaden the impact of ABI beyond the traditional audience of artists and get out beyond the boundaries of campus.

Non-Profit Board Leadership class was developed to teach board skills to graduate students through the Wisconsin School of Business, but was opened to all graduate level students recognizing that many students will, at some point in their careers, serve on a non-profit board or work for one.  It was also the intent to foster an interest in serving on a board at a younger age to address age diversity on many non-profit boards. 

The Arts Business Research Symposium (ABRS) was created to bring students and academics together with working professionals to identify and share best practices and trends in the field.  The ultimate goal of ABRS is to strengthen individuals, organizations and the field through the research being presented.

New Arts Venture Challenge, directed by Jutt and managed by the Division of the Arts, now runs in parallel with the School of Business' Business Plan Competition, providing students with multiple avenues for pitching entrepreneurial ideas with a creative edge or for a creative business start-up.

In its third year, ABI introduced Aesthetics and Business, a course developed by visiting artist/lecturer, Diane Ragsdale, for BBA students in the School of Business, along with activity and experiences meant to help the development of the personal aesthetic for COMPASS, the BBA leadership training program. This work was built on by current Artist in Residence, Angela Richardson. 

Overall, in three years time, ABI impacted hundreds of students with coursework, business planning, workshops and speakers, as well as valuable insights and connections between the worlds of art and business.

Artist in Residence

Angela Richardson

Angela Richardson


Angela is a performer, visual artist, and long-time Wisconsin resident. Her work investigates how artistic, intuitive, embodied approaches to research can yield different perspectives than scientific, empirical, and mechanical ones. Drawing, installation, and dialogue form the foundation from which her interdisciplinary efforts emerge.

The elaborate, artful procedures she creates allow interaction and collaboration with audiences. She uses storytelling to blur the line between memory and imagination and to raise questions about our complicated relationship to ‘the truth.’ Angela received her MFA from UW-Madison in 2015.

While attending graduate school, Angela served as project assistant to cartoonist and author Lynda Barry at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Image Lab. There she lead art classes for scientists and helped curate numerous art exhibitions. She also worked as an assistant to papermaker Mary Hark through the Design Studies program in the School of Human Ecology. With Professor Hark, she developed a semester-long, situated learning project for students, titled Understanding Place as Inspiration for Sustainable Design: Place, Paper, Product.

Previously, she was employed as arts program manager for the Division of the Arts, as multimedia designer at the Center on Education and Work, and as a freelance media and event producer for a wide range of clients in both the non-profit and commercial realms.

Angela is also an experienced teacher having worked with students at all levels, in community-based settings and higher ed classrooms. Most recently, she’s taught workshops at Madison Children’s Museum, through Madison Public Library’s Bubbler Program, and for ArtWorking, an organization serving artists with cognitive disabilities. At the SARAS 2014 Conference, Imagining resilience: Art-science collaboration for sustainability, held in Maldonado, Uruguay, Angela led creative process exercises for an audience of international attendees.

Now as Aesthetics and Business Project Coordinator at the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, she coordinates arts-based learning activities for Wisconsin School of Business students, faculty, and staff. Her main focus is on introducing the arts and aesthetic development through Compass, a leadership program delivered to all Bachelor of Business Administration students at UW-Madison as part of the Arts Business Initiative.

Read further about Angela’s work in the Fall 2015 Direct Admit BBA LEAD Class »

Partner Organizations

  • Bolz Center for Arts Administration - University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Wisconsin School of Business - University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Division of the Arts - University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Continuing Studies - University of Wisconsin-Madison

Key People

  • Sherry Wagner-Henry: Center Director, Bolz Center for Arts Administration
  • Becky Buckman: Assistant Director, Bolz Center for Arts Administration
  • Angela Richardson: Artist in Residence, Wisconsin School of Business
  • Kate Hewson: Associate Director, Division of the Arts
  • John Surdyk: Director, INSITE, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Sarah Marty: Program Director, Division of the Arts

Read the keynote transcript »
Read a brief Q&A with the symposium panelists »