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Startup Tucson's Creative Business


About this Program:

Do you have a vision for a business that merges creativity with entrepreneurship? Startup Tucson’s NEW Canvas program is designed for innovators who can utilize their creative and artistic skills and aesthetic to developing a thriving business. We can help you turn your art into your career!


Designed to provide you with the framework, skills, and support network you need, Canvas can help you start or grow your creative or artistic business here in Tucson and beyond. Turn your creative skills into a full-time career!

MARCH 16 - MAY 16

Rolling Admission closes March 3rd

Throughout the program, you will:

  • Develop a deep understanding of the business side of creativity, turning your artistic or creative talents into a profitable model.

  • Learn to articulate your creative vision compellingly, ensuring your voice is heard in a bustling marketplace and by investors

  • Discover your niche audience and learn how to cater directly to your consumers

  • Gain invaluable insights from a network of mentors who are established creatives and business professionals, ready to guide you on your journey.

Valued at over $5,000, thanks to Startup Tucson's supporters, this 10-week pre-accelerator program is available for a low program fee of $150 and will equip you with the essential tools you need to take your business to the next level. 

Spring Semester dates

Accelerated Fundamentals (required)

Saturday, March 16th | 9:00am-5:00pm


March 28th (Kickoff Thursday) &

April 2nd - May 7th (Tuesdays)


Final Showcase

Thursday, May 16th | 5:00pm-8:00pm

To celebrate the launch of our first Round of Canvas, our Spring Cohort will include entry to our Accelerated Fundamentals on March 16th and all Spring Cohort graduates will be eligible to compete for a total of

Thank you to the Firestarter Grant Program from Groundswell Capital for making these special opportunities possible. 

what's on the agenda?

March 16 (Sat): Foundation Bootcamp: Fundamentals

Before we get started with the deep dive into all things creative entrepreneurship, our all-day Fundamentals workshop will teach you essential tools and insights for early-stage entrepreneurship. In this workshop we will cover the lean business model canvas, business models and finance, market discovery, customer discovery, validating your idea, and you'll walk away with a refined business pitch. Click here to learn more about Accelerated Fundamentals.

March 28 (Thurs): Introductions, Fundamentals Recap, and Intro to Sales Channels

In our first session, we begin by introducing each creative entrepreneur and revisiting entrepreneurial fundamentals. This session will also introduce various sales channels, providing insights on how to effectively market and distribute your art or creative products to reach your target audience. Here, you'll start bridging the gap between your artistic passion and successful business strategies.

April 2 (Tues): Building a Successful Creative Business - Ways to think About Monetizing your Art Without Selling Out

Explore the art of monetizing your creativity without compromising your artistic integrity in our second session. We'll discuss innovative and authentic ways to generate revenue from your art, ensuring you stay true to your vision while building a financially sustainable business. Learn how to navigate the balance between artistic passion and market demands, finding success in your unique creative expression.

April 9 (Tues): Building a Branding that Stands Out & Marketing Tactics

In this session we will cover the essentials of developing a standout brand and how to implement marketing tactics that resonate with your audience. This session will guide you through the process of creating a unique brand identity and pairing it with strategic marketing techniques to effectively showcase your creative work. Gain the tools to captivate and grow your audience, ensuring your artistic business makes a lasting impression.


April 16 (Tues): Finding Your True Customers & Patrons and Discovering How to Reach Them

In this session, we focus on pinpointing your true customer base and patrons, understanding their preferences, and learning the most effective ways to reach them, both physically and digitally. Discover the art of merchandising your creative products or art in a way that appeals to your audience, whether through physical displays or online showcases. This strategic approach will enhance your connection with customers, ensuring your art finds its ideal home.


April 23 (Tues): Finances for Creatives: Budgets, Pricing, Getting to Profitability & Funding

Tackle the financial aspects of your creative venture in this crucial session, where we break down budgeting techniques, effective pricing strategies, and pathways to profitability. You'll learn how to manage your finances with a creative mindset, set prices that reflect the value of your work, and explore funding options to support and grow your business. This session aims to equip you with the financial acumen necessary to turn your artistic pursuits into a profitable enterprise.

April 30 (Tues): Mentor Fair

In an this session, the mentor fair, you'll have the unique opportunity to network with seasoned mentors from the creative ecosystem. Engage in speed mentoring sessions, establish valuable connections, and set the stage for future guidance. This interactive experience is designed to align your creative business with the wisdom and expertise of industry veterans.

May 7 (Tues): Intellectual Property and Legalities for Creative Work

This session will help you understand the importance of copyright, trademarks, and patents, and learn how to protect your unique creative works and ideas. We'll also discuss the essentials of contract law and negotiation tactics to safeguard your business interests. This session will empower you to secure your artistic expressions legally and commercially.

May 14 (Tues): Operations and Growth Strategies

In our final session, we will examine the operational gears and growth levers of the creative business. Learn how to streamline your processes, manage projects effectively, and scale your operations without compromising the quality and integrity of your artistic output. We will cover growth strategies, operational best practices, and sustainability planning to ensure that the expansion of your business is both manageable and aligned with your long-term vision. Arm yourself with the operational wisdom to build a resilient foundation for your creative enterprise.


May 16 (Thurs): Creative Canvas Showcase

The culmination of our accelerator program, the Creative Showcase, is an event dedicated to the art of entrepreneurship. This festive gathering is a platform for our talented participants to exhibit their work and share their visionary projects with the local creative ecosystem. Network with fellow creators, industry influencers, and potential collaborators as we highlight the innovation and passion that have fueled our journey together. This showcase is your opportunity to shine, display the progress you've made, and set the stage for future success. Revel in the achievements, forge new connections, and witness the transformative power of creativity in business.

Agenda R4S
why should I attend?

Whether you're a budding artist ready to turn your creativity into a commercial venture or a creative looking to expand your market, Canvas is the educational program that will lead you step by step towards building and growing a flourishing creative business. Through expert-led sessions and interactive workshops, this 10-week pre-accelerator is designed to provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills to refine your business model and set your creative enterprise on the path to success.

One of the most valuable highlights of the program is the Canvas Showcase, an event where you will exhibit your work and the insights you've acquired throughout the program to the Tucson creative community. The collaborative atmosphere of Canvas ensures you receive constructive feedback and develop your project in a space tailored for vibrant idea exchange. With dedicated moments to pitch your creative business and absorb mentor guidance, you'll gain invaluable experience in expressing your creative proposition.

What will I learn?

  • Understand your unique position within the creative market, ensuring your business effectively resonates with your target audience and distinguishes itself from competitors.

  • Master the art of low-cost, creative experiments to test and refine your ideas, allowing you to evolve your work based on direct customer feedback.

  • Build confidence and skill in showcasing your creative works, whether that is art or a creative product, delivering engaging presentations that capture the imagination of potential customers and patrons.

  • Act on real-time insights from industry mentors, fine-tuning your strategy and amplifying the appeal of your creative offerings.

  • Various channels and platforms to generate additional revenue for you from your creative endevours. 

You'll walk away with:

  • A polished snapshot of your creative business plan.

  • A strategic checklist to guide your immediate action items.

  • Scripts and techniques for conducting customer interviews to drive better creative solutions.

  • An array of tools, like our pricing guide, to support informed business decisions.

This accelerator is great for:

  • Artists and makers keen on exploring how to take their creative passion into a viable business.

  • Established creatives looking to refine their business acumen, broaden their network, launch new products and gain visibility within the Tucson arts and culture ecosystem.

Get Started


The cohort will take place over 10 weeks in person at FORGE at Roy Place and Startup Tucson's Offices in Downtown, Tucson.

  • Foundational Bootcamp: Accelerated Fundamentals (included & required)

    • March 16th (Saturday) - 9:00am-5:00pm

      • You'll join our Food Forward Cohort participants as well as other entrepreneurs for a full day of business fundamentals to set you up for success before the 1st day of class. This is the only Saturday commitment of the course.​

  • Weekly Classes - 5:00pm-7:00pm

    • Kickoff Thursday Class - March 28th

    • Weekly Tuesday Classes April 2nd - May 7th

  • Final Showcase

    • Thursday, May 16th


Upon acceptance, the following participation requirements will apply:

  • You must be have a creative offering (product, portfolio with prices, etc.) ready to share at the end of the 10 weeks for Showcase 

  • You must commit to attending 90% of sessions in-person. Participants are only allowed to miss one class to be eligible for graduation.

  • You must commit to all onboarding and post-graduation surveys to ensure Startup Tucson can meet all reporting requirements. 


A course fee of $150 is required for each participating company. This course fee includes participation in the mandatory Accelerated Fundamentals pre-class ($60 normally) as well participation in the Showcase, enabling eligibility for over $5,000 in prizes and awards. This fee also includes a year of follow-up business planning with Startup Tucson. In total, these components and this cohort are valued at over $5,000 but thanks to Startup Tucson's many supporters and sponsors, we can bring these programs to the community at this subsidized cost. 


Once we receive your application, we will schedule a brief interview to ensure the program is a good fit for your business. In order to facilitate interactive sessions, one-on-one coaching, and an enriching Taste of Tucson Showcase, the course is limited to 15 companies and offered in-person only.


To be considered for the Canvas accelerator you must:

  • Live and/or sell in Southern Arizona

  • Operate in one or more of the following creative industries:

    • Marketing – Advertising and marketing agencies and professionals

    • Architecture – Architecture firms and architects

    • Visual Arts & Creative Products – Galleries, artists, artisans, and makers

    • Design – Product, interior, graphic, and fashion design firms and designers

    • Film & Media – Film, video, animation, television, and radio businesses

    • Digital Games – Companies, programmers, and individuals producing games

    • Music & Entertainment – Producers, venues, musicians, and performers

    • Publishing – Print or electronic businesses and content creators, editors, and writers

  • Be looking to discover new channels of revenue for your creative endeavors

  • Have an existing creative product or service or be producing art in some way already. This program will not cover design.  

Please note: Due to the limited number of seats available, we encourage you to fill out the application thoughtfully and completely. We look forward to welcoming you to our in-person sessions held at the Startup Tucson offices in Downtown Tucson.

Still have questions? For more information email!

Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. Because there are only 15 spots we recommend filling out the application as early as possible. Applicants who submit their applications after all of the seats have been filled will be put on a waiting list for the next cohort. Applications will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, March 3rd. 

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