Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Arts Salon Recap

On Tuesday, January 13, The Arts Research Center was delighted to welcome Laura Callanan, the newly appointed Senior Deputy Chairman at the National Endowment for the Arts, for a salon conversation on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Arts with ARC Director Shannon Jackson. They were joined by the leaders of a variety of Bay Area arts organizations – including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Cal Shakespeare, Headlands Center for the Arts, Oakland Museum of California, diRosa, Art Practical, BAMPFA, The Exploratorium, and Kala Art Institute, along with UC-Berkeley faculty, foundation leaders, and Bay Area technology entrepreneurs.

Callanan Salon

ARC Director Shannon Jackson with Senior Deputy Chairman at the National Endowment for the Arts Laura Callanan


Callanan brings a wide range of experience from a career in philanthropy and social innovation—she has worked on Wall Street, with the Rockefeller and Wallace foundations, and as a consultant with McKinsey & Company. Last year, she was Scholar in Residence at the Haas School of Business’ Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, where she authored three case studies featuring artists who are social entrepreneurs. These studies, focusing on, James Houghton, the founding artistic director of Signature Theatre in New York; Deborah Cullinan, longtime director of Intersection of the Arts (currently Executive Director of YBCA); and Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates. For years, Callanan has been making the case that artists are essential to social innovation, bringing that message to impact investors, foundations, social entrepreneurs and artists. To learn more about Laura’s perspective, read this blog and watch her SoCap13 keynote talk “The Surprise Social Entrepreneur” here.

Laura revealed to our own Bay Area group of tech and art innovators that she intends to make innovation and entrepreneurship a central focus of her tenure at the NEA, and discussed two upcoming projects the NEA will announce soon. Our animated group of interlocutors had the privilege of discussing these projects, albeit in tentative terms, and offered a range of feedback. They debated the advantages and disadvantages of different labels and terms; they offered advice about managing the “big data” puzzles of a national creative eco-system; and they offered the Bay Area as a prime site to pilot these initiatives. Indeed, it was a privilege for ARC to vet these ideas with a group so committed to the future of the Bay Area arts ecology.


For those of you interested in learning more about Laura or these topics, please visit ARC reads or link to the following articles:

On “The Surprise Social Entrepreneur” by Laura Callanan

The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur by William Deresiewicz


You can also link to past ARC Events, or Blog conversations:

ARC’s 2014 Artist-in-Residence with 2014 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Rick Lowe

April 2014’s Valuing Labor in the Arts: A Practicum and Publication

Impact in the Arts Think Tank hosted by ARC in January 2014



Or, learn more about ARC’s mission as a hub and think tank for the arts on the UCB Campus.