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photography credit: Christopher Cushman photography credit: Christopher Cushman

Artrepreneur Alumni Spotlight - Miss Coco Murray

30 January 2018  

 

Artrepreneur is a creative business accelerator program run through York Region Arts Council designed to equip independent artists, arts administrators and creative entrepreneurs with vital business skills needed for success across all arts disciplines and industries. By incubating artists of all disciplines in one program, this program fosters collaboration and the sharing of ideas, tools, tips and best practices, resulting in a well-rounded understanding of what it takes to “make it” as a creative entrepreneur.

We are currently accepting applications for Cohort 5 of Artrepreneur York Region, and wanted to share the story of a successful Artrepreneur alumni and her inspirational journey.

Miss CoCo is a dance artist, cultural arts educator, dance instructor, community arts programmer, researcher and social entrepreneur.  She holds a Sociology BA from the University of Toronto, an Honors BA in Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity and is a MEd candidate at York University.  She is a 2013 recipient of the Canadian Dance Assembly’s ‘I love Community’ award that currently designs and implements funded arts projects for children, youth and adults.  She has presented at international academic conferences, taught workshops during her study abroad in South Africa and Costa Rica, and performed in Bermuda and Senegal.   Coco served as a Research Assistant for the Cultural Pluralism of the Arts Movement Ontario and is a contributing writer for The Dance Current, Canada’s dance magazine.

Tell us about your business.

Miss Coco Murray (www.misscocomurray.com) is a mobile, dance education business with artistic services representative of African and Caribbean arts.  Organizations, schools, and communities can book performances, choreography, dance instruction, research and education consultation that is culturally responsive.  This is a socially responsive business that delivers arts that highlights the history, social significance and contributions that black artists and master teachers hold.

I am also the Artistic Director of Coco Collective (@cococollectiveto), a multidisciplinary and intergenerational group of artists.  This collaboration offers cultural facilitators and arts-based programs using artforms from the African and Caribbean diaspora.  The purpose is to make the cultural arts accessible to neighbourhoods and socially respond to the needs of racialized peoples and priority groups.

How did you get started? 

 My 20-plus year artistic journey began after performing with a local group formed in high school.   I began apprenticeship training with a professional company using an Africanist aesthetic in the late 1990s. Simultaneously, I was approached to teach a recreational class in my childhood neighbourhood in Toronto.   As a social response, I did not see culturally relevant experiences and started my own cultural dance class.

I performed with many Toronto-based Caribbean and African dance companies for several years.   While training, performing and teaching abroad, more opportunities came at different intervals.  I went through a 10-year evolution of being hired to teach in studios, develop community arts programming for others, perform as an individual and become a guest choreographer for performance groups.  I launched my own community arts program last year in North Etobicoke to share artistic practices with the next generation of African-Canadians.

How did participating in Artrepreneur help you? What was the most valuable thing you got out of the program?

The Artrepreneur program was an important form of professional development.  I reflected on all the individual skills I offered in different points of my life.  Indirectly, I realized that I established myself as a brand with the referrals I built over 20 years. The program provided tools and the critical path to market my vision and I attracted a wealth of opportunities provincially and internationally.  Additionally, I learned the business side of the arts and boldly grew into a path of leadership.  The program had great facilitators and resources.    The most valuable thing I learned is that as a creative entrepreneur, we are more than entertainment for the audience’s gaze.  Artists are business entities that contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of our communities.  Whatever contribution I can make to preserve African/Caribbean diasporic arts in a pluralistic, Canadian society, I do it proudly and collaborate as my ancestors want me to.

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for upcoming artists/creative entrepreneurs?

“Be open, be self-aware and share your passion.  Be able to hear feedback about yourself or you miss opportunities to grow.”  

“The time to manifest is NOW.  So create, do not hesitate!”

To stay updated with Miss Coco and her journey, follow along on social media (Instagram/fb/twitter:  @misscocomurray)

Only a few days left to Apply for Artrepreneur and take your passion to the new heights! Click here for information. Deadline to Apply is February 4, 2018.

Are you a former Artrepreneur participant and would like to be spotlighted on the blog? We would love to hear from you. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

YRAC

The York Region Arts Council is a non-profit, charitable umbrella organization that serves to advance, promote, represent and connect the arts community across the region.

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York Region Arts Council, YRAC

1310 Kerrisdale Blvd., Unit 200
Newmarket, ON. L3Y 7B3

Phone: 905-726-3278
Fax: 905-726-2788

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