Up Close with Arts Entrepreneurs: Gigsy
Interview with Founder & CEO, Robert Warren
Earlier this year, Gigsy — a New Orleans-based multimedia company that combines photography and video production and a work/training program for local youth — was selected as an honoree for the 2017 Arts Entrepreneurship Awards. We sat down with Robert Warren, CEO and Founder, to talk about how he came up with the idea for his company and what he’s learned about being an arts entrepreneur.
Gigsy connects two separate, independent community needs — digital media services and skill training for youth, particularly youth of color — how did you come connect these ideas?
What we found as we continued to refine our model, is that the dual needs of innovative models to produce content and youth training are actually complementary. Talented and motivated young people exist everywhere in the United States, it’s simply about being a business that recognizes talent and trains correctly.
What challenges have you experienced, or lessons learned, in starting and growing your arts business?
The biggest challenge initially was balancing our focus between our mission to open access to young people as well as produce something innovative in the market. We used to be stressed out when we thought we had to balance our belief in young people with traditional ‘business’ needs. What we came to find is that investing in young people is a ‘cost’ to our business that yields incredible value. In reality, the social mission and the business mission are not independent from each other!
What makes New Orleans the ideal place to root your arts business in?
New Orleans and culture are synonyms. Every corner of the city oozes with history and artistry, from our architecture to our prominent gallerists lining Royal or Julia Streets. We can’t walk two blocks from our office without seeing something uniquely New Orleans. Likewise, New Orleans has done an incredible job post-Katrina to rebuild our hospitality sector. We are a premier provider of hospitality services, which makes arts and business in New Orleans complementary.
In ten years, what do you hope Gigsy will have accomplished?
In ten years we believe that Gigsy will be synonymous with photo and video. Our steadfastness in creating excellent content is matched by our belief in young people. We know that knowledge sharing and access sharing in this space is the only way to build arts community and the only way to do business in the 21st century. If artists, young and old, can look back in 10 years and think fondly on what they learned through our guidance, and if businesses nation-wide can take joy in the content they have received, we will have succeeded!
About Fractured Atlas
Fractured Atlas is a nonprofit organization that helps over 1.2 million artists of all stripes with the business aspects of their work.