Cultural Quarterly
Winter 2009
Volume XXII, Number 1
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Artist Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial Spirit
Drives LeeAnna Yater
By Samantha Rojas

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LeeAnna Yater
LeeAnna Yater

In November 2008, artist LeeAnna Yater became a two-time graduate of the Broward Cultural Division’s Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute (AEI). At the same time, she says, it was “the first time in 10 years I sensed a real momentum in the art world of South Florida.” Things like these…usually happen concurrently.

Yater calls it ”a click,“ when describing her experience with the second time around at the five-week seminar this past fall.  “A meeting of minds and passions, and the desire to move forward; this time we are actually doing it!” she says. Between theInstitute’s goal of changing the perspective of creatively talented individuals away from that of ”starving artist,“ into that of ”business leader“ and the South Florida Artist Entrepreneurs MeetUp group (an online forum for like-minded individuals formed by another AEI graduate, Onajide Shabake), “the acceleration has been huge and tangible,” says Yater. Something is abuzz in Broward County, and in a time of economic downturn, anything abuzz is worthy of notice.

LeeAnna Yater Collections
LeeAnna Yater Collection

In 1996, when she returned from North Carolina, Yater began teaching at FAU and developed an after-school art program for the North Broward YMCA. Going into her 11th year teaching art at Broward Community College, she is passionate about arts education. She traveled extensively throughout Europe; while designing the graphics for two hot air balloons; held an exhibition at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in the Lee Wagener Art Gallery; participated in the Allied Artist Program with the Broward Cultural Division’s Public Art Program; designed, fabricated and installed a hand-made ceramic mural along with students at Broward Community College; held a solo exhibit at Uncommon Galleryin 2007, along with many other adjunct faculty exhibits at Broward Community College. Although she kept herself productive for 10 years, she still feels that nothing has compared to these last two years of acceleration.

TheInstitute, she says, has given her the confidence and the technical ability to make art into a cohesive business. She got an accountant and opened a business account. It is a shift in thinking. With her first graduation from the AEI in 2007, she came away with a mini-grant application that translated into a $2,000 grant, with which she facilitated a solo exhibit at the Uncommon Gallery.

Now, with this second graduation, she has come away with The Palettes.

All the World is a Stage
All the World is a Stage

The Palettes are three AEI graduates - Virginia Fifield, Jacklyn Laflamme and Yater - who have become firm business associates and action-oriented friends. They meet three times a week, speak on the phone every day, attend ga