Over 30 artists and entrepreneurs filled the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ multipurpose room this month for an opportunity to gain understanding of how strategic measure helps develop better business practices.
The Aug. 13 workshop — titled “Business of Arts Professional Development Series: Negotiations 101” — was billed as a chance for artists and professionals to “enhance their negotiation skills and work more productively with customers, partners, vendors and others.”
“I believe preparation and understanding the value of what you bring to the table in business, helps create powerful conversation giving way to better negotiation stance,” said event coordinator Shermica Farquhar, founder and chief growth adviser of Solutions by SF, a D.C.-based consulting firm, and Soka Tribe, which specializes in teaching Caribbean-infused dance fitness.
The workshop series aims to provide grantees knowledge and skills that will increase capabilities for successful grant writing, networking, advancing cultural democracy and improving operation sustainability.
Each participant was placed into separate groups with the task of dividing $2, with the knowledge that whatever one person would gain, another would lose. Each member was assigned a role and obstacle, with the goal of teaching every person the measure of negotiations.
The example offer of just $2 was to maintain simplicity. The goal was to encompass all elements of the bargain and comprise the basis for a contract that formalizes the agreement.
If participants made an offer without nailing down all of the specifics, they risked finding out later that there was no meeting of the minds with the other party.
Trading one element for another — such as a lower price for a more relaxed schedule — is a common tactic, the organizers said. These bargaining chips should be kept under wraps until needed to close the deal and get the desired price, they said
While the primary focus is normally on price, participants were advised to always keep all the other components of the deal in mind.
“This help me determined specific areas I need to work on while presenting myself for potential business ventures,” said Roxana Carter, business owner and art curator. “I discovered the value that I really have to offer.”
To avoid misunderstandings, offers should be presented in writing and include all elements of the bargain, the organizers advised, adding that it’s a good idea to keep notes containing the rationale for each offer.
“I learned a lot about contracts and how to develop them and also the ability to build a team in order to be successful in public arts,” said Southeast resident and workshop participant Kufi Tyus, an animation artist with 50 years of experience.
Throughout the mock negotiations, each participant attempted to determine what to be an acceptable outcome for the other party.
“Through negotiations, you are building [a]relationship, with goal of reaching a higher level of authority in the future,” Farquhar said. “Negotiations is a mode of operation that help build your brand continuously.”