CEO Sit Down: Kyla Christie on New Art Collective

The New Art Collective, a company making a positive impact on the performing arts industry in Indonesia.

Photos taken from the New Art Collective Website

Having grown up in the performing arts, I know just how important it is to provide creative opportunities to young children. Through performing, I have learned the importance of dedicated practice, how to overcome failure, and true grit, which I have mentioned in greater detail in a previous post of mine. When I found out that a fellow Babson College student was working towards improving opportunities in this sphere, I knew I had to share the incredible work she is doing with New Art Collective on the blog!

Kyla, tell us about yourself!

Hi! I’m 19 years old and I’m the co-founder of New Art Collective, a performing arts company based in Indonesia. I was born in Indonesia and currently attend Babson College on a full ride scholarship. I have founded over 5 businesses during her 19 years of life, including my non-profit initiative Sing to Build where I rebuild houses and communities destroyed by natural disasters. 

What is New Art Collective and what is your connection to the performing arts?

I have been a singer for 15 years, and back then, aside from performing at small events, I noticed that young and passionate individuals couldn’t get a chance to be fully immersed in the arts. New Art Collective started out as a theatre company but now we are a youth platform that builds and elevates the performing arts ecosystem. We offer classes, content, and internship programs for youth on all performing arts aspects, including modeling classes, social media marketing, and business development. New Art Collective’s original inspiration was just for a 15 year old to find a stage to sing on, and now it’s become a change maker within the industry. Our vision is to give arts opportunities for Indonesian youth in every aspect.

What is the problem that your company aims to solve?

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Growing up in Indonesia, I noticed a lack of performing opportunities. There is still a prevalent “starving artist” mindset! I built New Art Collective originally to be a place where students and other young people could perform, but we have grown into a community that delves into the industry a lot deeper than just singing, dancing, and acting. We’ve trained young people to learn how to put on their own shows, all the way from creating a sponsorship proposal and marketing plan to set and lighting design for the stage. That way, the financial and technical ecosystem around performing is elevated and people can start seeing the industry as a thriving one, not a starving one

What has been your favorite performing arts project you have worked on?

My favorite project has also the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced! I remember three weeks before our first show, I had my team of 100+ people quit, leaving only me, my co-founder, and three other people. They quit because they thought the show was never going to happen. So our team of five did everything possible to prove them wrong. It was never about starting a business, we just wanted to put on a show. What we didn’t realize was that putting on a show is a business. I handled everything from ticketing, marketing, and sponsorships all the way to costumes and lighting design. I remember plotting out the seats on an excel spreadsheet and coloring in the tickets people bought. At the end of the day, we never sat down and created a business plan, or gathered up a board of advisors, or made a website. We sold through people Whatsapp-ing us for tickets! What we did was start. Anyone can plan, but what set us apart was that we just went for it. Now, of course, after gaining a lot more experience, we now have a board of advisors, we have a website, we have teams but without that first experience     we would never know what to do next! 

How has your business been impacted by COVID-19?

Reflecting a lot on the pandemic and business choices I had to make for my theatre company, this pandemic has forced me to evolve and adapt. I was honestly getting too comfortable in my niche. We were putting out production after production but I was not thinking about the scalability & sustainability of our company. 

In order to be pioneers and lead youth-based change in the industry, we needed to be more accessible and create more sustainable forms of entertainment. I sort of lost sight of that and lost my hunger to constantly challenge the status quo. The pandemic turned out to be a good wake-up call for me and my business. ⁣⁣ 

How will your business pivot or adapt to the changing environment, where live events might not be happening for a while?

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I started noticing that the entire theatre industry is elitist! Most people can’t afford to watch shows, and language barriers for Indonesians are issues that my company should be addressing. 

We are now focusing on creating accessible content and helping aspiring creatives enter the performing arts industry-both in performance and business development-, so they can keep their passions alive during this time! That’s why we opened up an internship program, because we noticed a lot of our friends were losing work opportunities and we still wanted to give those students and young people opportunities to dive into a company that is actively pivoting and changing during the pandemic

Last question, what is the ultimate goal New Art Collective strives to achieve?

We aim to be a company that brings opportunities and new solutions to the performing arts industry’s youth. Changing that starving artist mindset and becoming an industry leader is our main goal, and opening up the accessibility of the arts to those who are passionate

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