How to nurture art with an entrepreneur’s mindset

HOPE Organization is following a profitable business model to innovate and expand their impact as a non-profit. The founder and creative director, Andi Scull, is building a new sustainable gallery and art park on the success of the first.

Art walls at first location of HOPE outdoor gallery

by Andi Scull, Founder and Creative Director, HOPE Organization

14 years ago, I founded the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Campaign with the help of acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey. This campaign is a non-profit that connects creatives with social causes through projects and events. We’ve raised awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, developed youth mentorship programs, and supported local artists of all ages. 

The next big project for 2022 is launching the HOPE Outdoor Gallery and Art Park at a site just outside the Austin airport. It’s actually our second gallery and with it, a blank canvas. The first gallery, a temporary installation established in 2010, was a runaway success. We transformed a neglected hillside into a temporary art installation for muralists and street artists to create public art, and it became a homebase for art education classes and community gathering. We have even bigger dreams, and a ton of work to do. To streamline the creative planning and production process of this new build, we’re relying on Dropbox.

A view from above of the future site of HOPE gallery

A workflow where the work comes first- facilitated by Dropbox

I’ve been a Dropbox Business user since 2014. As an art director and graphic designer, I used to lug around a seven-pound laptop, digital camera, and multiple backup drives. (I remember deleting photos in real time at photoshoots just to free up space.) Someone sent me a Dropbox link and I was intrigued the minute I saw the interface. It was easy to understand and user friendly. I moved everything onto Dropbox, and eliminated my worries about storage and file management.

Andi Scull on cloud storage

"Creative growth happens when you don’t have to worry about managing storage."

Andi Schull founder and creative director of HOPE gallery

A socially-minded business by design

To celebrate and financially support the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, we published two print books (in 2014 and 2017) with the help of Dropbox. We were able to easily share a link to a Dropbox folder with our contributors. These artists had enough space to drop in large, high-res photos and personal stories about their contributions or time at the gallery. Then our remote team edited the book using Dropbox—we could comment on files, make selections, and organize everything in folders, without running out of space. It was such an efficient and effective way to communicate and transfer information.

Many arts organizations operate like a startup or a charity—competing for grants, fundraising, and the attention of donors. To get the new HOPE Outdoor Gallery Art Park off the ground, we had to treat our organization like a small business. 

HOPE artists gather for a book signing; Dropbox folder structure for HOPE book project

A new gallery built from the old

In the early days of planning and fundraising for the new HOPE outdoor we relied on DocSend to send and track our pitch and event decks, as well as sponsorship files. This has been great for managing timelines—I can see who has opened what, and how much time they spent. It gives insight into what information is more compelling.

In addition to those real-time analytics, I like that DocSend has complete eSignature functionality. This keeps everything connected and flowing from one action to another. It’s been so helpful for the growth of our business to maintain the momentum from a conversation to a partnership. The mobile-first branded viewing experience gives everything more polish and cohesion. 

DocSend screen with documents for fundraising, activations, and promotion

To further sustain our business, the new site will host an art supply store, cafe, bar, food trucks, and private events. This in turn will fund our non profit programs, including the development of HOPE Creative Camps, aimed at inspiring and empowering the next generation of artists. 

It’s a lot to keep track of and I’m also constantly on the move. Because Dropbox and DocSend are mobile and secure, I can quickly get the right information to the right people. It means I can stay on the move and still be pitching to sponsors or collecting legal signatures.

Andi Scull on remote collaboration

“This organization and the projects within it only happened because we had the room to collaborate. I can’t imagine going back to someone handing me a thumb drive.”

a colorful graffiti art wall from the original HOPE gallery

Dropbox & DocSend have given us the ability to evolve and reach more people

Our first site is literally building the new gallery as recycled foundation materials and a relocated art wall. The exterior walls pay homage as a place to create and connect with the site and fellow artists, like a visual open mic. Within the walls will live the new vision with a traditional gallery, art store, cafe, bar, and event space. We’re looking forward to the launch of the HOPE Outdoor Gallery while continuing to build on this sustainable business model we’ve created. As this model comes to life, Dropbox and DocSend will be there to support our business and community as we thrive.

graffitti art wall with neon cat, donut, and person