SEA Conference connects emerging artists with needed business skills and connections

Feb 05, 2016

North Central College’s 16th annual Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) Conference Feb. 26-27 will help aspiring artists learn to become successful entrepreneurs.

The SEA Conference provides educational resources to help aspiring artists gain entrepreneurial knowledge and skills needed to establish and maintain careers as independent artists. The conference features performances, workshops, panel discussions and other activities tailored to actors, filmmakers, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and other artists. Keynote presentations will be given by Dionna Griffin-Irons from The Second City and Tom Sharpe, drummer for Mannheim Steamroller.

Activities also include artist-led sessions, one-on-one mentoring sessions, round table discussions, a juried college art competition, pitch competition and opportunities for educators to share best practices.

The 2016 SEA Conference will be held at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville Hotel, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle, beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, and ending at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. The registration fee for students is $119 for the full conference or $70 for one day. For nonstudents the fee is $199 for the full conference or $110 for one day. Late fees apply for registrations after Feb. 12. For more information and to register visit or contact Amy Rogers, SEA director, at 630-637-5468 or

Griffin-Irons (left) will deliver a keynote address, titled “Building the Unexpected in Your Business and Art,” at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26. She is a writer, alumna of The Second City Detroit, and current director of Outreach & Diversity at the legendary comedy theatre The Second City. She is a champion of empowering students, actors, women, inmates and professionals to own their “voice” and give themselves permission to play and be heard wherever they are.  

Sharpe (right), drummer for the Grammy Award-winning group Mannheim Steamroller, will present the second address, “Defining Your Artist Self,” at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26. He is a sought-out performer and clinician, and the creator of his own group, the Tom Sharpe Ensemble. Sharpe’s own compositions have won many awards, including the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the Broadjam World Music Contest.

Visit for the full schedule and list of participating artists and entrepreneurs.

SEA is sponsored by The Coleman Foundation, North Central College, a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the John E. and Jeanne T. Hughes Charitable Foundation. Additional sponsors include Guident Business Solutions, Russell Law, Blick Art Materials, Beloit College, Millikin University, University of St. Francis, Ace Metal, the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Illinois State University, and Arizone State University Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

This conference is among many ongoing programs at North Central College to enrich and broaden the cultural and academic outlook for the College and community. North Central offers a variety of venues accommodating a rich range of local and world-class events, performances and space needs for the public.