Artists as disrupters: an incubator where artists and technology meet

A new New York Incubator takes a realistic look at the future of work in cities through the perspective of innovation in the arts
Forty full-time fee-paying members have been selected from over 400 applicants to have two years of full-time access to the 8,000 square foot co-working space in New York at the New Museum’s four-week-old art and technology co-working incubator. The space includes amenities typical of both business incubators and maker spaces, such as meeting spaces and technical equipment including 3D printers. Aside from access to the space, membership also includes business classes and mentorships.
The values people bring to the incubator are different than values at a conventional business incubator because “they are not necessarily devoted to profit, scale or attracting investors.”
Its goal is to support and diversify creative industries in New York City. A study by the New York Center for an Urban Future indicates that although New York turns out many art and design graduates who would like to stay in the city, unfortunately most don’t have resources to do so. Another study conducted by software company Intuit indicates that by 2020, more than 40 percent of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be freelancers, contractors and temp workers. The hope is that it will become part of a vibrant New York City cultural and economic ecosystem as co-creators of a community that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Rafaël Rozendaal is an artist who creates unique URLs and websites in order to sell them to people who agree to be stewards, artist Lisa Park uses technology to detect her brain activity and then displays it in real-time as waves on pools of water and Carlo Van de Roer has created novel techniques for manipulating light in images and is working on patenting his inventions. NEW INC tries to help its members leverage the intellectual property they are creating without taking a financial interest.
‘When people describe themselves as an artist, they get less money for a job than when they describe themselves as technologists or engineers’, so there is a desire to confront semantic issues and traditional boundaries in art, technology, business and society.
The focus is on artists who are starting their own tech-oriented businesses or adding a “missing ingredient” to entrepreneur teams; and there is a desire to leverage this interdisciplinary community for social impact.
One commentator added that ‘…the creation of a business and the best businesses are motivated by the pursuit of an idea – the pursuit of a disruption, not by the money; usually the sustainability is due to the founder finding a way to turn a small failure into another disruption.’

See also other incubators in the arts:
The National Theatre’s Studio, a nursery for promising performances http://wp.me/p3beJt-f and
Watershed Bristol: innovation in media and the arts http://wp.me/p3eJt-3Y

John Whatmore
October, 2014

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