Tongal is a creative enterprise that connects companies in need of artistic input for advertising with filmmakers and creatives that want to make this kind of work. Companies posts projects they need done to the project board on Tongal’s website. Then filmmakers and creatives can respond with a project idea – in 140 characters or less (the Twitter pitch at work!). Sponsors then pick the winning idea and it moves into the pitch phase where the filmmakers must outline their plan of execution to the sponsor. If chosen, you get money for your idea as well as funding from the sponsor to execute the film.

They have worked with brands such as Crest Toothpaste, Miller Lite, Pantene, Spalding, Verizon, Warner Brothers, Stacy’s Pita Chips and more. Filmmakers from all over the world are a part of the Tongal community and the creative films made through Tongal have been some of the very ads you watch on TV.

This concept is the brainchild of Ryan and Richard Riffle – the creators of the original LEGO movie.

Radical Cooperation

This decentralized cooperative made up of 24 artists produces and sells radically social art. With distribution based out of Pittsburg, Justseeds’ Artist Cooperative prints and design the work of artists based in Canada, Mexico, and the US. The company works together to produce collective portfolios, contribute graphics to grassroots struggles for justice, work collaboratively both in- and outside the co-op. The website features the online store where politically themed prints can be purchased, as well as an active, multi-voice blog detailing current art and resistance projects around the world. In addition, the collective also work to build large sculptural installations in galleries, and street art.

The Space Upstairs

Another awesome multi-use but thoughtfully themed venue is The Space Upstairs in Pittsburgh.  They call it a “warehouse gallery-loft” and center events based on jazz.  That includes jazz music, jazz dance, and spoken jazz.  One interesting part to me is that most of their events are based on a monthly schedule (ex: second saturdays or third thursdays) which creates a subscription type relationship with their patrons.  I also love how they combine art forms as well as offer classes and workshops periodically.

The Record Company

The Record Company is a non-profit recording studio based in Boston, MA.  One of the first commercially viable recording studios to operate as a nonprofit in the country, they offer professional audio recording services while serving as an educational institution to the local youth community.

This interview with founder Matt McArthur explores the benefits and challenges of setting up a recording studio as a non-profit.   My project for this class has a similar business model, it is nice to find a working example out in the field.

Queer Artist Mentorship Program

The Queer/Art/Mentorship program (QAM), located in New York City, had its inaugural year in 2011. It was given life by a queer art film series shown monthly in Manhattan. Mentors from various visual art, performing art, film, and literary disciplines and  are selected by invitation. Fellows are chosen for the year-long program based on submitted project proposals and, if selected, meet with mentors on a  monthly basis at a minimum. To foster greater artistic growth and interaction, the entire group meets three times throughout the year to share ideas. The structure of the organization is unclear from the website, but I’m assuming that it is volunteer led.

QAM captured my attention because it has combined elements of my (presently fictional) music mentorship program for Financial Management and the queer arts festival that I am working on with a friend that will soon come to fruition.

Artist Organized Art

A non-profit, this platform sells announcement space to their lists, along with soliciting individual and institutional support, in order to “Support Artist Organized Media, Events & Cultural Education By Strategic, Collaborative & Financial Means.” They also publish New Observations magazine, which otherwise would have gone out of print. According to their strategic plan, they made it through the recession in large part due to individual donations, as public and institutional support essentially disappeared.

Coleman Center for the Arts

Located in York, Alabama, the Coleman Center for the Arts is a community, contemporary art space, that uses art to foster positive social change, answer civic needs, build local pride, and use creativity for community problem solving – locally. CCA’s programs evolve directly out of the needs of the local community and the ability to answer the question: how can an arts initiative help us address this need? Their artist-in-residence program is their most prominent way of creating social change and addressing these community needs.

The residency program focuses on socially engaged, participatory, public art and creates opportunities for artists and community members to work as co-participants on projects that address civic and social needs. All of the projects begin with a 3-10 day visit to York where artists meet with the community and vis versa – BEFORE any art or project is initiated. This also allows for community feedback and exposure to a project idea while still in the ideation phase. As this relationship builds, community members are involved in the entire development of the artistic product. A very unique operation and one that absolutely does inspire collaboration and community involvement, with a result that is truly catered to the community’s needs.

Artists Who Thrive on Artists Thriving

Ann Rea created Artists Who THRIVE based on her inspired business approach, featured on HGTV and the Good Life Project, in Fortune and The Wine Enthusiast magazines, and profiled in the book Career Renegade


Rea’s is commended by American art icon, Wayne Thiebaud, and she has a growing list of collectors across North America and Europe.Image




a talented young girl pursued her dream of being a famous artist by attending a very prestigious and expensive art school. 


For five years she learned how to make art …but not how to money from it.


Then her student loan bill arrived.


Conduit Dance

Since my new venture organization has a little bit of an incubator feel, I went looking for some dance incubator models.  What I found was that there aren’t many.  Conduit Dance in Portland is a dance incubator that strives to offer affordable rehearsal and performance space for contemporary dance in the area.  They offer rehearsal as well as performance space, provide training in the form of classes, and give dancers and companies access to their network of contacts.  It doesn’t look like their services are restricted by guidelines, which is also unique from other dance incubators.  

Check them out!

Rainbow Theatre Project


The Rainbow Theatre Project made their first appearance last year at Source, though neither of its founders are new to the DC theater scene. They present pieces about/by/for the LGBT community. An article on DC Theatre Scene emphasizes the 2 year planning process (infrastructure! business structure!) that preceded their premier.  Fractured Atlas  is their fiscal sponsor for now, but they hope to end up with a 501(c)(3) status. Interesting to read about how they are fitting themselves into the local theater scene: developing partnerships, attracting more diverse customer segments, and understanding their place in the longer history of “LGBT theater” in DC.