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The art of business, the business of art

Innovative, successful, creative - definitely a fitting description for the women attending the WISE project. Funded by Erasmus+, this adult education programme aims to support women with artistic or crafty skills and give them the business and manufacturing knowledge to become successfully self-employed.

Photographs: We Are Entrepreneurs / Art Escape Studios & Café

Text: Michaela Medveďová

In Denmark, WISE is headed by Diana Medrea-Mogensen, the founder of We Are Entrepreneurs. After starting her first company in 2013, she took all the courses available for small businesses. In 2019, she decided to help others do the same as a consultant. "But it turned out that small businesses don't have the time or money to invest in such services. That's how I ended up developing adult education programmes through grants like this."

WISE was created with five other organizations from Italy, Greece, Lithuania, and Iceland. "We developed all the training material together as we all have our areas of knowledge and visited each other to learn about what challenges other groups might face."

After finishing the materials, they started a three-month pilot programme in April. In Denmark, it collaborates with Art Escape Studios & Café, and ten women attend. Some have a formal art education, and some pursue art as their passion. The programme empowers them to collaborate and create local communities.

“What an amazing experience and resource to have so many creative minds to brainstorm with.”

The training consists of three modules: creative entrepreneurship, contemporary opportunities, and innovation. Each module has four 4-hour sessions. Diana tries to keep them very practical and invites experts to share their knowledge. After the summer, the art of all programme attendees will be introduced in Copenhagen, and selected pieces will feature in an art gallery in Lithuania to give them international exposure.

After module one, the women's experiences were positive. Being in the same room and pushing each other to apply their existing knowledge - and the extra tools and know-how they are gaining - is valuable. "What an amazing experience and resource to have so many creative minds to brainstorm with," said Melanie Smith, a creative entrepreneur and art educator.

"I want the women to challenge the status quo. They are incredibly creative and talented, but they bought into preconceived notions: if you're an artist, it should be hard, or you're always supposed to be on social media. We want them to understand the whole opportunity - what they can choose that works for them," concludes Diana. She's working on adjusting the course to an online version on the uQualio platform so it is open and accessible for everyone.

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