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Four must-read “non-arts” books for artists and cultural professionals

Four must-read “non-arts” books for artists and cultural professionals

As an arts entrepreneur, books have helped me find answers to a myriad of questions. I’ve read several books on marketing, management, self-development, entrepreneurship, arts, creativity and more, and I would like to share here, FOUR books that I believe would be insightful and inspiring for all artists and cultural professionals.


1. TRIBES by Seth Godin (Everyone has an opportunity to start a movement)


Tribes, by marketing guru Seth Godin, presents the idea that every individual has the ability to bring together a group of like-minded people, start a movement and build their “tribe”. The book talks about the innate human need to belong. As humans, we are constantly looking for opportunities to be part of an initiative, a community or a group with a shared interest, thereby giving us a sense of belonging.


In the context of the arts – what does “Tribe” mean for artists?


Artists are constantly looking to build their audience and connect with them by providing meaningful experiences. Their “Tribe” is that group of audience who are the first to purchase tickets for an upcoming show, or the first ones to buy their newly launched album. The size of the tribe does not matter, however the motivation of the individual to be part of the tribe and the connection that they build is very powerful.


For example, as an artist you might have 50000 fans following you on social media. But if you are unable to motivate them to purchase tickets for your show or buy your next album, the “number” of people following you becomes meaningless. This book presents fascinating insights and practical tips on how one can build a loyal follower-base and create a tribe of their own.


So if you believe in your idea and are ready to lead, then this book will most definitely help you build and grow your tribe!


2. THE ELEMENT by Ken Robinson (Where Natural Talent Meets Passion)


“The Element” by the world-renowned educationist, Ken Robinson, talks about conditions that enable us to find our “element”, which he describes as the intersection where “natural talent meets passion.” The book also sheds light on the barriers that prevent us from discovering this element and how we can enable ourselves and others to pursue our passion.


The book has some insightful real-world stories of artists, scientists, athletes, business leaders, academics etc., who have made a living by doing what they love and by being imaginative, curious and creative.


The book presents a very important idea that intelligence is not purely academic. It is diverse, and unique to an individual. As the popular saying goes, “You must not judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” So, different people have different strengths which must be recognised and nurtured accordingly. This is a compelling read especially for arts educators, and arts educational institutions that work with young people.


And most importantly the book tells you that it is never too late to find your “element”.

3. CREATIVE CONFIDENCE by Tom and David Kelley (Everyone is Creative)


The crux of this book written by Tom and David Kelley (founders of IDEO, the innovative award-winning design firm), is that every individual has a unique creative potential. The book offers ways in which we could unleash this inherent creativity that lies within each one of us.

This book is a great read for all cultural professionals including artists, arts managers, fundraisers, arts entrepreneurs, curators, technicians, art educators etc., on how to make creative thinking a part of our day-day work and in this process how to inspire creativity with the teams we work with.


The concepts, case studies and exercises presented in this book will help cultural professionals:

  • Explore ways to reimagine and rediscover their creative processes;

  • Use creativity in simple day-day tasks for better efficiency and to problem-solve;

  • Develop ideas for triggering creative thought flow when you are stuck in your creative process;

  • Develop and nurture creative environments for cultural teams to work-together

4. The 100$ Start-up by Chris Guillebeau (Do What You Love)


This is a book replete with fascinating stories of people who have built their businesses, by starting off with just $100! The stories (and the businesses) are simple, yet compelling. All stories have one common thread – every person has developed a clear business model for turning their simple ideas into income.


From creating e-Books, to photography to nutrition planning to e-commerce, each business idea presented in the book stemmed from passion, which was then prudently converted into a viable business.


An absolute must-read for artists and arts professionals, this book will help develop new ideas to generate alternate revenue streams purposefully, and also rethink and reinvent the way they approach their existing creative enterprise.


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Author: Ramya Rajaraman, Founder & Director, ArtSpire


Follow us on Instagram @teamartspire

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