PeopleFund Blog

Arts entrepreneurship in Austin: PeopleTalk Recap Part 2

The event was so great yesterday that we just can’t stop talking about it. There was just too much to put in one blog post, so we’re spreading it out over two days. After Deborah Hamilton-Lynne finished her speech (recap here), she brought up three successful arts entrepreneurs living and working in Austin.

First, we heard from Clay Nichols of, an arts entrepreneur whose path took a million turns before running a successful and useful video site for the involved father.  We also heard from J.B. Hager, the 94.7 radio DJ who started On-Airstreaming, a popular video site that hosts videos of up and coming artists made in J.B.’s airstream trailer.

Then, she brought up Jim Ritts, the executive director of the Paramount and Stateside at the Paramount theatres here in Austin. Both of these theatres are a huge boon to the downtown economy. Ritts estimated that 100,000 people are downtown every year because of their programming. The theatres are also tied to the Austin Theatre Alliance, an organization that strives to promote theatrical education in Austin.

That’s huge for the Austin economy. When Austinites catch a show at one of the theatres, they’re not only catching a show, but also grabbing dinner at a nearby restaurant before, heading over to a bar down the street for a nightcap after and then maybe even taking a cab home.

He also spoke about this weekend’s Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival as a way to approach artistic endeavors with a business mindset. Austin has a great source of comedy talent here, but Jim saw the need for a festival that will not only bring 100 comics and thousands of people to Austin, but also benefit the nonprofit tied to the theatres, the Austin Theatre Alliance.

To him, this festival is “leveraging two houses of distribution to create a multiple revenue stream system” that eventually puts the profits back into the community to fulfill Austin Theatre Alliance’s mission. To us, it sounds like a great example of the many ways that arts entrepreneurs like Jim, J.B and Clay are making our community an even better place to live.

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