When the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation first became interested in helping young artists, they realized that almost all art students needed a background in entrepreneurship in order to sell themselves or their artwork. After trying different programs in order to help bridge the gap for student artists and designers who may not have the capability or opportunity to turn an idea into something of substance, the foundation expanded its efforts to bring to FIU the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator — the first of its kind, innovative arts incubator dedicated to encourage and promote entrepreneurship for student artists and designers.
With FIU’s widely diverse student body and its desirable Miami location, the Ratcliffe Foundation was eager to work with the university and the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) to begin building this program from the ground up. Ratcliffe says, “I was amazed at the size of the university and all the different disciplines offered.” She was also inspired by CARTA’s willingness and desire to put its all into creating a program that will help art students achieve a place in this world. For the Ratcliffe Foundation, FIU was well suited for all that the incubator would provide.
Over the course of three years, nearly 45 student fellows from CARTA will be selected to participate in the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator, where they will work with two onsite mentors as they strive to create new ideas, while expanding their entrepreneurial knowledge through real life practices. The Ratcliffe Foundation has found that young entrepreneurs face a smaller risk of failure when they have first had the opportunity to create their businesses within an incubator, as they are guided and mentored along the way. It is undeniable that the arts incubator will have a drastic impact on CARTA students; however, the impact will go beyond the 45 selected student fellows and ultimately influence the overall student body at FIU.
The Ratcliffe Foundation is hopeful that the arts incubator will encourage more of FIU’s students to engage in entrepreneurship. Jim Wright, a trustee of the foundation (pictured left), believes, “When they hear about this entrepreneurial program, even if they are not an entrepreneur, they will think about becoming one and learning more by looking at different classes to take and opportunities they should seek.” As a new program for FIU and the South Florida community, the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator is a catalyst for feeding artists and designers into the areas surrounding FIU to further and enhance the vibrancy of this culturally rich community.