It’s a model for communities who want to build innovation and economic sustainability into their communities in a whole new way. We believe you have the solutions for making stable, sustainable, creative careers and vibrant communities. AIR is committed to providing support that will increase the long-term success and sustainability of talented artists, their businesses, and organizations. This means increasing incomes at higher than average rates, creating jobs, stimulating community involvement and volunteerism in activities assisting artists, and promoting the regions’ creative economy as a key piece of any economic development strategy—an important factor in a healthy, vibrant economy. AIR is built on community. If the individuals in your community are not isolated from each other, they begin a conversation that creates a ripple effect of impact through the community’s ecosystem. When members of your community that would otherwise be isolated from one another find a way to connect, magic happens.

We did the heavy lifting for you.

We spent more than two years developing and piloting curriculum that hundreds of folks helped get right. We used design thinking and super-fast prototyping to fail quickly and nail the programs. Now artists are quitting their day jobs, reporting higher revenues than ever in their careers, and businesspeople want this artist-created curriculum because it works.

Curriculum Goals

  • Economically empowered creatives achieve professional and artistic success.
  • By expanding and engaging creativity, the community thrives and artists are valued as strategic contributors.
  • Creativity is encouraged and fostered in educating our youth.

Curriculum Objectives

  • Creatives acquire non-art skills to enhance their creative expression and support their artmaking.
  • Creatives have new opportunities like residencies, apprenticeships, internships, and visiting artist and mentoring programs throughout Appalachia.
  • Creatives have lifelong access to art and business skills, resources, and networks, including coaches and mentors.
  • Community members, including educators, have access to interactive arts experiences and creativity skill development programs.


We used public meetings, surveys, and our Curriculum Committee to identify the specific skills and tools needed in order to achieve our curriculum goals and overarching vision. Every exercise, the content we present, and the materials you will use are designed to help you achieve these goals. You’ll notice that every section includes which competencies are being addressed so you can follow along and see where you may need additional learning or practice.

The Key Competencies:

The Paradigm Shift

Can articulate new vision for arts and creativity that includes increased community value for creatives and innovation. Can plan new career paths for creatives and uses creativity to help innovate businesses and solve community issues and problems.

Access between Community & Creatives

Community members and creatives know how to find each other and work together well.

Business Planning

Able to write and implement a business plan, including visioning, defining success, identifying audience and customers, marketing and operations strategies, testing and refining, and creating a viable revenue model.


Develops cooperation and teamwork while participating in a group, working toward mutually beneficial solutions. Is able to accommodate the different ways creativity manifests itself—visioning, innovating, experimenting, etc., when working with others on creative projects.

Design thinking, planning, and management

Ability to use design-thinking process to visualize, plan, and implement a project to successful completion, on time and on budget. Be able to create, develop and articulate a project concept.

Creative Thinking

To be able to synthesize solutions—combining of separate elements or substances to form a coherent whole. Able to solve problems iteratively within the context of design thinking.

Additional Key Competencies:

Communication, Marketing, Social Media, Mentoring, Using Technology, Revenue & Fund Development, Sales, Finance & Bookkeeping, Interactive Arts Experiences & Exposure, Human Resources, Emotional Intelligence, Legal, and Board & Advisor Development