Authorship · Blog

Another publication!

Sometimes, you have to say yes to an opportunity in order to grow. 

About a year and a half ago, I got an email from Dr. Mark Tonelli, an old college friend. He’s now an Associate Professor of Music at Millikin University, was in the West Point band for 10 years, and is a mean Jazz guitarist. He reached out to me asking if I might be interested in writing a case study about arts entrepreneurship for a book that he was editing with a colleague. He knew I had published a couple of books and that I was writing on a regular basis. He also knew that I had gotten my Masters degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he later received his doctorate in Music Education. 

I was quite flattered that he thought of me for a submission and was excited by the thought of that kind of challenge. Of course, there was a wave of imposter syndrome that struck: Would I be able to write an academic case study? I hadn’t done any sort of academic writing since grad school, over 20 years ago. Would I have the time? I would be swamped at work and in the middle of a fall show when I’d have to submit. Would I even know what to write about? Arts entrepreneurship is not exactly my specialty, so what would I write about? A conversation was necessary for clarity.

We scheduled a phone call so he could explain what he was looking for. He and his partner, Andy Heise, were creating a textbook that examines the scope of arts entrepreneurship through a collection of case studies. He was reaching out to friends and colleagues who he knew were writers to craft these studies, based on someone they knew in any part of the industry who were following their own paths to success in the arts. The target audience for the book was arts educators and students, particularly at the post-secondary level.

As we talked, the gears started turning. I knew an arts entrepreneur: Astrid von Ussar. We met at Teachers College where we worked on our Masters in Dance and Dance Education together. I helped edit her term papers (she’s Slovenian, so English is not her first language) and I marveled at her brilliant young dance company, Von Ussar danceworks. Years later, she brought the company to my school to for several artist-in-residence workshops. It was a beautiful way to connect my students to a professional choreographer for whom I had such high regard.

As many small companies do, Astrid’s was struggling with staying afloat. In a desperate Hail Mary, she created an opportunity for growth and reimagined her calling, morphing the company into what is now known as The Dance Gallery Festival (DGF). DGF is an annual dance showcase where she features up-and-coming dance talent on a national level. Amazingly, the festival survived COVID and is still growing. As I see it, Astrid von Ussar is the definition of an arts entrepreneur. 

I had an angle. Time to flesh it out. 

I reached out to Astrid with the idea, which she liked, and we sat for a long Zoom interview. It was so lovely to chat with an old friend and get the scoop on the history of her work. With her story, mixed with a little research, I had a direction. In a few weeks, the first draft was done. 

Of course, the publishing process is a long one. There’s a couple of rounds of edits and suggestions, and at some point, the work was out of my hands and I kind of had to forget about it. Fast forward over a year: the editors reached out in March 2023 for a final look-over for updates and last minute edits. Since so much time had passed, and Astrid’s festival has continued to develop, I did a few updates and resubmitted the case study.

Finally, in April, I got a notification from the publisher that Cases on Arts Entrepreneurship had been released! 

Now, I am officially published in an academic textbook. I’m not exactly sure what to do with that information, but I know that it is a share-worthy accomplishment. I am excited, humbled, and so grateful to have been a part of this work. I am proud to be in the company of artists and arts educators helping the next generation flourish. It is my sincerest hope that it will provide inspiration and perspective to those considering a future in arts entrepreneurship.

If you are looking for a textbook about arts entrepreneurship or want to read Astrid’s story as a dance entrepreneur, here’s the link to the book’s webpage

3 thoughts on “Another publication!

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