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Five young Glace Bay artists are moving on to the next phases of their careers after they successfully completed the first ARTpreneurs Glace Bay program but according to one of the participants, this wasn’t your average educational program.
“This isn't an art course or a business course, this is a life course,” said Gardiner Mines-based digital illustrator Garrett McNeil, also known as Moral Man.
McNeil has done illustration work for hip-hop musicians who may need cover art for their projects. Despite his talent as an illustrator, learning the skills to turn his art into a viable business, had eluded him until he took the course, which taught him such skills as doing invoices and spreadsheets.
“You can be the greatest artist in the world but if you don’t know how to put yourself out there the proper way then you’re not going to get recognized,” said McNeil. “And you’re not going to make the money that you want to make off doing what you love. It really helped me get on track with what I was trying to accomplish.”
Also taking the Bay It Forward-sponsored program were other young artists from Glace Bay and surrounding areas including Dylan Buchanan, Xavier Morrison, Matthew Nicholson and Bree Steele. Their skills range from social media management, fantasy fiction, music writing and producing and sustainable fashion.
Since November, the five participants have been meeting with the lead facilitator Cynthia Lahey, a teacher with a photography background, who encouraged them to take their talents to the next level.
“Cape Breton Island cannot help but produce creative people and business,” said Lahey. “I worked into the curriculum visiting some of these fantastic entrepreneurial businesses of both art and culture to help introduce these students to just a small portion of what Cape Breton has to offer. People might be surprised by how many artistic-based venues we have if you only take the time to look.”
The 10-week program helps those between the ages of 18 and 22 to learn skills that will help them build an entrepreneurial business with their chosen artistic skills. Those taking part are paid as long as they put in 30 hours per week plus additional unpaid work on their own art. Those participating must be skilled at an art form before entering the program which will teach them ideas, values, product development, budgeting, business plans, marketing, branding and networking, and mental health. They also attended various artistic events in the community and developed products they sold at a packed market-style event on Dec. 13 in Glace Bay.
For McNeil, it opened up a whole new world of opportunity.
“It’s hard to believe in yourself without knowing what you can actually accomplish,” he said. “It was life-changing for sure.”
The next round of ARTpreneurs Glace Bay will be in early March and will run until mid-May, followed by another session beginning in June. Applications for the March program can be submitted online until Feb. 26 via the ARTpreneurs Glace Bay social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For more information, follow any of those accounts or email Lahey at ARTpreneursGlaceBay@gmail.com.
“It’s for those who want to push forward with their art and needs an extra hand in getting that done,” said Lahey.