Investing in talent

To many people, the world of business and the world of culture are polarised by their opposing fundamental principles. Gareth Samuel dispels this myth by investigating how thespians, musicians and artists across Ireland are investing in themselves and using their talents to pay the bills.

There comes a time in the lives of most aspiring artists, actors and musicians when they have to accept the unacceptable truth - that international recognition (and the riches that come with it) will always be just out of reach.

For many cultural aficionadoes, who once dreamed of artistic superstardom, using their talents to produce success in the business world has reaped far greater rewards, both in terms of finance and quality of life.

Perhaps one of the best examples of aspiring musicians gaining richer rewards in other areas of the industry, comes in the form of Dublin legend, the late Doris Keogh.

Keogh was an accomplished flautist and began performing at a very early age. However it was teaching the flute to students at the Royal Academy of Music that brought her real joy. By organising classes and inspiring her pupils, she was able to improve the lives of people around her. She was officially recognised in 2000 when she received a millennium award for services to musical life in Dublin.

In 1992, her former students opened a trust in her honour before she died in 2010, aged 90. The story of Doris Keogh's life is an endearing tale of how using your artistic talent and diversifying your ambitions can lead to a long and happy life.

Across the water, the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts franchise is helping inspire children to learn new skills and pursue their artistic dreams. The original institute was set up in 1996, and has since been franchised to the extent that there are now eight LIPA 4:19 establishments across the UK - most of which are run by individuals with a history in the performing arts.

The success of LIPA can be put down to talented individuals spotting an opportunity to use their experience to make real money in the business world and help others achieve their goals.

In February this year, The Independent announced that the music industry recorded growth for the first time in 15 years despite a continuing battle with piracy. This development indicates that through the diversification of the music industry into extended gig promotion, festival organisation and digital music services, there are more business opportunities to work within this famously erratic industry than ever before.

Feargal Sharkey, of Northern Irish band, The Undertones, believes that there will always be business opportunities in the music industry.

Speaking at the Cannes Midem music business event, Feargal said: "It registers above mobile phones, games consoles and DVDs. Are young people going to suddenly stop wanting to be creative? Are music fans going to stop enjoying music, wanting it as part of their lives? It's not going to happen. All the music industry ever did was provide a bridge between creators and fans. That bridge is always going to be there."

However, deciding which route to pursue can be a financial minefield, picking the right option is crucial.

Open an academy or institute By going into business as a professional music, art or performing arts teacher, you stand to make a small fortune while watching pupils develop, under your guidance, into successful stars of the future. If you are good with people and want to transfer your knowledge and experience then setting up an academy can be a worthwhile investment, as evidenced by the LIPA franchise.

Promote other artists

Music and event promotion companies make a living by using all available forms of marketing to help the best artists reach the top. Event management has become big business in the 21st century and by putting together exciting artistic extravaganzas, event organisers help boost the cultural diversity of their area - and establish successful businesses too.

Open a talent agency

Talent agencies have a comprehensive knowledge of the artists, actors or musicians on their books. By booking their acts into paid events, they earn their money by charging a percentage of the booking fee. If you have a knack for spotting the next big thing, then starting a talent agency business could be the first step on the road to success.

Begin a digital publication

As the digital revolution shows no signs of slowing down, starting an online publication, that provides visitors with news and reviews about an area's cultural events, could lead to international recognition and a regular following. By gaining a large regular audience, an online publication can begin selling advertising space. However, this can be a lengthy process and it could be years before a site like this begins to pay off financially.

For many Irish artists, investing in a growing list of music and performing arts franchises is a low risk way of owning a successful business. For example, performing arts school franchise, Stagecoach, operate classes and tutorials to help nurture artistic talent in children from a young age across Ireland.

Making your cultural talent pay for you is not easy, but through hard work, it is possible to bring business acumen and cultural talent together, in perfect harmony.