Andrea classifies herself as an artpreneur. Since moving from Melbourne after working as the National Manager for F2 – the digital arm of Fairfax Media, she left the corporate world behind to throw herself into her community, and assist in writing funding applications for arts projects. She is most famous for her involvement in FLOAT, the floating art studio situated on Lake Tyers, which has occupied her time for the past 3 years.
We sat down with Andrea to find out about her entrepreneurship story.
What inspired you to start doing this? I moved to East Gippsland 20 years ago to marry an artist, and I became less interested in business and corporate, and more interested in the value of arts to regional communities. I found I could draw on my experiences in writing to write grants for art funding; as I believe we can build better, more interesting communities, destinations and neighbourhoods through art.
The FLOAT project is about saying that art is important and I am driven by the collective community benefit.
Do you consider yourself entrepreneurial? I would consider myself an art-preneur. I don’t feel like I am an entrepreneur in the traditional sense, as I’m not motivated by profit or personal wealth myself. I feel more drawn to social enterprise where I can use my skill set for community benefit, rather than my own; and I am motivated by seeing an idea take shape. In hindsight, I have realised that this probably is entrepreneurial, however, my career had always been working as an employee prior to this.
What do you think makes an entrepreneur successful? I believe it is in their ability to overcome any barriers and make it work; and inspire others to rally around an idea. I also think they should be brave and innovative, and not feel too restrained by rules and regulations.
What’s one myth about entrepreneurship that you think should be myth busted? I started life as an economist. While I understand the need to translate the value of important things (such as art and environment), into something politicians can understand, I have no great faith in economics. I believe a myth that should be busted is the fact that dollar value isn’t necessarily a great measure of real value. Any figure could be inserted into a spreadsheet and be made to appeal to others; but that’s a poor measure of success.
What’s been the best thing about your adventure so far? The best thing about our adventures has been securing the lease for the Slipway in Lakes Entrance. We have spent the past 20 years sowing the seeds of a creative community; and in the last 12 months with FLOAT and having artists in residence, we now have the opportunity to activate the Slipway with art. The Slipway has been unused for the past 18 years, so winning the expression of interest with a great team of local women is so exciting. We now have the chance to use the space to prove the value of what we do.
Have you had any failures along the way where you’ve learned a valuable lesson? Not everything we do is a roaring success. Some things fizzle into oblivion, but mostly get invented into Plan B. Luckily, I have a resilient streak which means I can’t accept failure! I’ve had some awful and stressful times, but from the near disasters I have learnt the importance of having a core team of people around you, who share your passions and sheer grit.
What advice would you give to someone considering entrepreneurship and self-employment? My best piece of advice would be to never risk more money than you can afford to lose. My form of entrepreneurship (helping to imagine and deliver arts projects to change the world for the better) makes me happy, and while I create a very modest income, I have a very meaningful life.
Our Next Project: Slipway Lakes Entrance