Cathie Anderson

Anderson: Flywheel incubator dishing up creative stew for Sacramento

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

Just two years since its inception, Sacramento’s Flywheel Creative Economy Incubator already is seeing the kinds of organic collaborations that can occur from putting a bunch of artists together to talk business.

During a term in Flywheel, artists receive guidance on putting together business plans, managing business finances, establishing a public image, using the law to their advantage and garnering media attention. They also get to network with each other and with the many experts who provide their training free of charge. The atmosphere, something like a primordial soup, is eliciting tangible results.

Ana Manzano, creator of the Ana Apple brand of children’s clothing, said she made connections whose knowledge base was critical to helping her win the Calling All Dreamers business plan competition earlier this summer. She plans to open her store at 1200 Second St. in Old Sacramento this winter, thanks to the $135,000 in start-up incentives she’ll receive as her grand prize.

916 Ink leader Katie McCleary, a member of Flywheel’s current class, teamed up with comic book writer Eben E.B. Burgoon, from the inaugural class, to create an after-school program where kids learned to write scripts for comic books. 916 Ink promotes literacy in schools by teaching creative writing, and children and their parents had often requested a comic book class. Flywheel facilitated the connection. Burgoon not only taught the students script writing, but he also recruited local artists to illustrate their creations and had the kids do elevator pitches to sell artists on their concepts. A compilation of the kids’ work now sells at Big Brother Comics, Empire Comics Vault and Comics & Collectibles for $9.16, a portion of which goes to the nonprofit 916 Ink.

“That was one of the more beautiful things that happened with Flywheel, the ability to collaborate,” Burgoon said.

The list of collaborations is so long that it’s hard to remember them all, said Michelle Alexander, executive director of the Arts & Business Council of Sacramento, which runs the incubator. Flywheel will be recruiting its next class of artists in November. At about that same time, Alexander said she expects to be moving into new digs at the Warehouse Artist Lofts, currently under renovation on R Street, between 11th and 12th streets.