North Central College - Naperville, IL

Self-Employment in the Arts Conference Feb. 24-25 helps careers of aspiring artists

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College and high school students, educators and adults who aspire to be self-employed artists will gain valuable information about running their own businesses as artists Feb. 24-25, 2012 when North Central College hosts the 12th annual Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) Conference.

The SEA Conference provides educational resources to help aspiring artists gain the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain careers as independent artists. The conference features performances, workshops, panel discussions and other activities tailored to actors, filmmakers musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and other artists. It also attracts hundreds of attendees; students who attended last year’s conference represented more than 40 schools.

The 2012 SEA Conference will be held at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville Hotel, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle, starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24, and ending at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. The registration fee is $74 for both days or $50 for one day, and scholarships are available. For more information and to register visit or contact Amy Rogers, SEA director, at 630-637-5468 or

This year, the SEA Conference will present concert pianist and art entrepreneur Jade Simmons as keynote speaker at the 1 p.m. session on Friday, Feb. 24. Passion and innovation at every turn, Simmons is an exciting and versatile artist who recently was named Houston’s Best Arts Ambassador by the Houston Press. She’s performing a two-hour concert of classical music Dec. 16 as part of the holiday festivities at the White House.

Simmons, a Yamaha Artist, has toured the United States extensively. A native of Charleston, S.C., she completed her undergraduate work in piano performance at Northwestern University under Sylvia Wang. Simmons also became Miss Chicago, Miss Illinois and ultimately first runner-up at the 2000 Miss America Pageant. Simmons holds a master’s degree from Rice University.

Her keynote presentation, “Be the Boss of Your Own Art: The Evolution of the Arts Entrepreneur,” will kick off the annual conference. In addition to delivering the opening keynote presentation, Simmons will participate in panel discussions, round table discussions and one-on-one mentoring sessions.

This year’s SEA Conference is offering additional opportunities for participants to engage in one-on-one sessions with speakers. For 15 minutes, a speaker will look over art work, answer questions, offer advice and talk about life goals as a self-employed artist. Attendees are encouraged to bring samples of their work.

The conference also features a juried art exhibition, group art competition sponsored by Blick Art Materials, book proposal review, mock auditions and improv. Sessions focus on such topics as marketing, business plans, websites and social media. A highlight of the conference is the Business Plan Pitch Competition, which gives selected finalists the opportunity to present a three-minute pitch on their business plan to a panel of judges. Up to three winners will be awarded a $1,000 prize to assist in starting their business. Winners will be announced at the conference.

Over the two days there will be more than 40 sessions for attendees on topics such as How to Find Clients, Implementing Business into a Daily Routine, The Changing Face of Self-Publishing, Utilizing Social Media as a Tool for Your Art Business, How to Work with Clients, How to Finance Your Business, How to Get Started, How to Present and Sell Your Work to a Gallery, How to Network, How to Negotiate Contracts and Gigs and Finding a Publisher.

SEA is supported by The Coleman Foundation, the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Charitable Foundation and private donors. SEA is housed at North Central College.