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Creative Business Champions program helps visual artist expand her small business

Self-employed artist Kate Douglas leveraged free support from the Creative Business Champions program to further her career

 

What

Kate Douglas is a visual artist based in Ipswich, painting highly detailed reproductions of how she sees the world.  

After a successful debut solo exhibition at Ipswich Art Gallery in 2018 and some professional group shows, Kate was developing the concept of her second solo exhibition when she signed up for the Creative Business Champions (CBC) mentorship program. 

At this point her arts business was breaking even but not profitable.  Kate approached the CBC program with a goal to source funding to support her next body of work, and to gain more confidence in grant applications, writing about her work, and overall business development

Her CBC mentors showed her the steps to take and helped with her career progression.

 

Where

Ipswich


Investment 

The Creative Business Champions program, an initiative of the Regional Arts Service Network (RASN), is a free online service to connect Queensland artists and arts workers with personalised professional guidance from recognised industry leaders, helping to create meaningful professional development opportunities with strategies to grow business and establish sustainable careers in the arts.

Launched in April 2021, the Creative Business Champions provided advice and mentoring to over 800 Queensland artists and arts workers in 2021.

While Creative Business Champions is primarily an online program with access across the state, RASN provided some opportunities for face-to-face meetings in regional Queensland including Cooktown, Cairns, Toowoomba, Cherbourg, Ipswich, Logan, Woorabinda, and the Sunshine Coast.

Backed by an initial $6.5 million (2017-18 to 2020-21) investment by the Queensland Government, support for RASN continues with $6 million over four years from 2021-22 to 2024-25.

 

 

Outcomes

Following her CBC mentorship Kate’s outcomes included:

  • secured a $10,000 RADF grant
  • was offered and booked a solo exhibition at a regional gallery (Ipswich Art Gallery), to be presented in 2023
  • created and implemented a marketing plan instantly resulting in higher priced sales


Learnings and reflections

Creative Business Champion Ant McKenna gave me very constructive feedback on my grant application drafts, helped me with the budget, and encouraged me to improve my website and bio. He advised me to write to regional galleries to get some indications of interest and support letters for my grant application. This exercise resulted in an offer of a solo exhibition before I had produced any paintings, based on the quality of my previous work. With a 2023 exhibition confirmed and booked in, I had a strong, confident grant application and received the full amount I was hoping for.

Creative Business Champion Elliott Bledsoe helped me identify my key markets, equipping me with a solid plan to improve my business. I again refined my website and online selling platforms, and clearly articulated points of difference in my art. Within a few days of implementing my marketing plan I achieved sales of artwork which I had previously listed for years to no avail.

The mentorship program enabled me to analyse and identify areas of my business which needed improvement and gave me the confidence, skills, and direction to improve them. 

My mentors broke down seemingly insurmountable tasks into clear, achievable steps allowing me to attain my goals. Receiving free, expert advice while working at home online was invaluable, as I did not have the time or money to travel repeatedly into Brisbane for meetings. 

The CBC program and results absolutely exceeded my expectations and I am very grateful to be a part of it.

 

 

Tips for others

Although I knew what goal I hoped to achieve through the CBC mentorship program, many other improvements to my business were also suggested. Being open minded to new ideas allowed my art to reach wider audiences, my income to increase substantially, with further flow-on effects.

Time management is crucial. Asking for advice on time management, especially in marketing, was very helpful for me.

 

What next?

An exhibition of Kate’s work at Ipswich Art Gallery in 2023.

 

Find out more

Kate Douglas website