Seven years ago, I wrote an article for the Whittaker Report which outlined the summer internship goal of discovering a “Holy Grail Algorithm” which would presumably predict the future. While I remain naive regarding the scope of this goal, I acknowledge that perhaps our time frame was misconceived. Now, armed with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science from Kalamazoo College, I remain committed to the quest. 

Rather than try to chronologically list everything that has happened to me, or has changed in the world since my last article, I will instead focus on what I’ve accomplished most recently and you can fill-in the rest as you see fit. In early May, two days after receiving my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, opportunity literally knocked on my door. Only two months later, on July 17th, the Tri-Cities Artist Incubator opened its doors.

“What is an Artist Incubator?” you might ask. As much as business incubators help nurture startup companies, we aim to provide budding artists the tools and resources they need to succeed. We believe that these “needs” boil down to three things: a place to learn, a place to create, and a place to present. To address each of those needs, we offer classes and workshops, flexible studio and makerspaces, and online and physical art galleries, respectively. 

As with many business concepts, none of these ideas are novel. Art classes can still be found sparingly in public schools, and art galleries are still fairly commonplace. Even the term “Fab Lab” has been around for twenty years. Why might an artist incubator find success.

That all comes down to timing. We are betting on the pent-up creative energy of our community. After COVID-19, we are willing to bet that an aspiring artist would give just about anything to have a place to paint away from his or her home life. What about a place where they can safely socialize and converse with like-minded creative individuals? If you build it, will they come?

Whether or not this business has long-term viability remains to be seen, but I’ve learned a lot more as its co-founder than I had originally bargained for as developer. What started out as merely a portfolio project to develop a website, complete with store and scheduling portal, has turned into quite an economic development journey. Where might it lead next? Stay tuned…