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Artists develop business plans for Potsdam

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POTSDAM - Five artists have been selected to develop a business plan as part of the village of Potsdam’s arts microenterprise and incubator project.

The village received a grant to fund the program through the North Country Regional Economic Council early this year. They began seeking applications from artists who needed funding to create a business in Potsdam

According to St. Lawrence County Arts Council Executive Director Hilary M. Oak, most art funding goes toward establishing exhibits, displays and festivals rather than the creation of art itself.

“There is very little funding for artists to do what they do,” she said.

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council and the village of Potsdam’s strategic plan listed development of the arts as a high priority for the region.

Only five applications were submitted for the project, all of which were accepted by the village planning office and the arts council.

“Word spreads fast, and seeing that the opportunity was available I just jumped at the chance,” said Isaac J. Snell, who makes ceramic dinnerware and other pottery.

Mr. Snell wants to move his pottery studio from Colton to a larger space in Potsdam, where potential customers could come in and watch him work.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the business and the community, to see these things up close and personal,” he said.

All five businesses will go through a 10-part course to develop a complete business plan.

This training session was designed to help artists define exactly how their business will function and how much money they will need to get started.

“Often artists, they do what they love, they come to do it as a hobby or as a passion, but they don’t really think of themselves as a business,” Ms. Oak said.

After the business plan has been created, the businesses will apply for grant money through the arts incubator program. Each of the five will be vying for a slice of an $80,000 grant. Each business can apply for a maximum of $30,000.

The money will be awarded in October.

Sara E. Lynch makes ceramic sculptures. She sells her work online, and has customers in England, Australia and California. Most of the money she makes goes back into creating new work.

“I’m functioning on essentially a shoestring budget,” she said.

With grant money through the incubator project, Ms. Lynch hopes to start making a line of garden products.

“I would basically need a lot of raw materials to figure this out. It has a lot of potential, but I need start-up money.”

Tim Damon began selling high-end hardwood drum sets last fall, after spending three years learning how to make them. He wants the grant money to buy needed tools and equipment and to hire a full-time employee.

Leigh C. Chapman wants to use the money to create a website and expand her line of greeting cards and wall art.

“I hope to establish a studio and gallery,” she said.

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