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School of Music

  • SAVVY 2017

The SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge

Immersive Interdisciplinary Arts Boot Camp to Transform Careers and Organizations

June 1–7, 2019 - Columbia, SC

Performing and Visual Artists • Arts Administrators • Arts Educators


Imagine a world of abundant opportunity where your art profoundly impacts audiences previously believed unreachable. Where the term starving artist describes a hunger for bold exploration and uncommon opportunities rather than lack of financial strength. Where arts freelancers and organizations are as revered for groundbreaking, team-based problem-solving as they are for artistic excellence.

The SAVVY Arts Venture Challenge (SAVVY) is a revolutionary professional development workshop that prepares participants to transform their careers and organizations by becoming better entrepreneurs, collaborators, change agents and community pillars. We offer an array of success tools, remarkable network, access to visionary thought leaders, and the rare opportunity to reimagine roles the arts can play in a world that demands differentiation, relevance and continuous innovation.

Whether desiring to boost your reputation, expand reach, earn more money, transform an institution, or just get more done, SAVVY will prove pivotal.

The SAVVY Difference

No other program comes close to the powerful design and structure of SAVVY.

Success in the Arts

Our mission is to help creative artists and organizations reimagine the arts while achieving greater success on a number of levels. SAVVY’s unique structure provides participants with tools to maximize:
    •    Impact

    •    Income

    •    Innovation

    •    Community

    •    Collaboration

    •    Entrepreneurship

    •    Strategic Planning

    •    Creative Problem Solving

    •    ….And the POWER of your art!

Experiential Learning

Capped at 75 participants, SAVVY is not about passively observing lectures but rather learning through doing. Working on teams, participants are challenged to collaboratively solve a problem: Build an innovative, entrepreneurial arts business from the ground up. Attendees pitch arts-business ideas, vote for favorites, form companies, prototype a venture, and compete for awards. Along the way, they complete a number of related assignments. A variety of art forms are used to teach lessons about personal/professional/organizational success. This unique experiential structure teaches a variety of invaluable hard- and soft-skill strategies directly applicable to arts careers and organizations. Learn more.

Diverse Participants

An essential SAVVY ingredient is our notably diverse mosaic of attendees. Too often, we interact with others who look and think pretty much like we do, but innovation and unique partnerships are more likely to occur when unlike perspectives intersect. Therefore, we actively recruit a wide range of artistic disciplines, backgrounds, ages, and geographies, combining performing/visual artists, arts administrators, and arts educators. SAVVY alumni enthusiastically insist that this eclectic mixture changes their vision for 21st century success. Learn more.

Powerhouse Faculty

SAVVY is the brainchild of Dr. David Cutler, author of The Savvy Musician and one of the most influential voices on arts entrepreneurship, careers, innovation and leadership. He is joined by an interdisciplinary, all-star faculty of visionary leaders. Learn more.

Community Integration

An important SAVVY value centers on how the arts can best leverage community resources, and vice versa. Emphasizing this priority, we incorporate multiple venues, partner with numerous arts and business organizations, showcase homegrown entrepre-tainers, integrate local leaders and neighbors, and serve delicious Southern cuisine prepared by non-chain vendors. Participants are often surprised by Columbia’s wealth of assets. This, in turn, helps them think more broadly about potential opportunities back home.

FULL Tuition Scholarships

Intended to initiate or strengthen community connections between organizations and artists, the SAVVY Partnership in Action program involves a dual application with one arts employee and one creative artist. Accepted partners develop a variety of invaluable skills and perspectives during SAVVY, and have the opportunity to plan a joint project during SAVVY-U. In addition, the creative artist is awarded a FULL tuition scholarship!  We also extend tuition relief to independent artists who could not otherwise afford our transformative program. Learn more.

SAVVY-U (May 25)

During our optional bonus day, attendees develop an actionable strategic 12-month plan, applying SAVVY strategies directly to future projects and dreams. Participants are eligible to participate in  3-, 6-, and 9-month “check up” calls as well as secure accountability partners. Learn more.