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Artpreneur Experiences: Brenda Dunn

Brenda Dunn (artinjest) shares her experiences at ARTPRENEUR. We’re lucky to have her as a Co-MC this year! Image courtesy of Toni van Eeden and CSArt Ottawa.


When I first started coming to Artpreneur, I was new to the arts industry in every way. I had left a very different job in a very different field and was taking my first terrifying steps into Being An Artist.

This prospect was exciting and wonderful and also utterly vague. How on earth do you go about “being” an “artist”?? This is the only career that I’ve ever come across that ACTUALLY has the implication of failure built into the title. The words “starving artist” paint a very romantic and totally unappealing picture. I didn’t want to starve. I wanted to thrive. I needed to break into a totally new industry and build a completely new network.

Enter Artpreneur. My first year I went with the intention to listen closely and meet as many people as I could. I attended talks and wrote notes. I learned about grants that I had never heard of and organizations I now can’t live without. And most importantly, I met people. Lots and lots and lots of people. Those people now form a huge chunk of a network that provides me everything from social media shout outs to job opportunities.

As I returned to Artpreneur further and further into my career, I was still meeting people and learning things, but I also started to go with more intention. I still attended the talks and listened to lectures, but I also made it a point to figure out who I wanted to meet and who I might want to work with. I came with a plan, and I left with jobs. Concrete money-giving jobs that were the result of being in the right rooms with the right people.

Now when I come to Artpreneur, I’m still doing all those things. I’m still learning and listening and I hope I always will be. I’m also still always talking to people and networking because that’s how you find opportunities. But in addition to that, I’m now incredibly lucky to be able to share opportunities, make suggestions, and offer connections to others. I got one heck of a leg up from Artpreneur at the start of my career, and now that I’m boosted, I get to reach back.

Thanks Artpreneur, for helping me build an arts career from the ground up. I’m looking forward to helping you keep doing the same for others.

Don’t forget to register for this year’s ARTPRENEUR Ottawa conference to hear more of what Brenda has to say!


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