An Uncommon Business Gathering


FLOAT – Feral MBA, a radically re-imagined training course in business for artists and others, will be held in East Gippsland, Australia over a 5-week period from February to April 2023.

The course will be run by Kate Rich, artist, trader and feral economist (and member of the Community Economies Institute) who ran the pilot Feral MBA – Inception in Hobart, lutruwita |Tasmania, Australia in early 2020 and a second Feral MBA – Succession in Plymouth, UK later in 2020.

Kate says “The aim of this uncommon business gathering is to provision ourselves with experimental skills and vital camaraderie to test out novel ways of doing and being in business; the course responds to the towering failure of business-as-usual to maintain a liveable planet.”

“The Feral MBA uses a transformative definition of ‘business’ to refer to any productive activity that could bring us sustenance so this might include artists, activists, artist-run and community organisations, small business operators, freelancers, farmers, creative administrators and any others working with or curious about radical and experimental business methods.”

“For this iteration of the Feral MBA, I’m excited to be working with FLOAT, a regional arts organisation that has a long track record of running innovative programs, including a School of Untourism, the Observatorium and FLOAT A.I.R (an artist in residence program).”

The course is based around an opening and closing intensive (face-to-face) held over two weekends (25 and 26 February, and 1 and 2 April) with remote study and interaction between these dates.

Kate explains that the Feral MBA has its roots in her experience of running Feral Trade since 2003, and then meeting other people who were doing business differently, even doing business as an art form.

This included meeting Kathrin Böhm (founder and co-founder of initiatives that include the social and cultural enterprise Company Drinks, and the Centre for Plausible Economies); Bianca Elzenbaumer ,who among other roles is co-founder of the Comunità Frizzante community drinks manufacturing business in the Italian Alps; and other 'outsider' traders, such as the people in the Sailing Cargo Alliance who are doing business in radically interesting and curious and experimental ways.

“I was really aware of people’s struggle to make a livelihood. These are artists and businesses who are constantly running up against this issue of not being calibrated with the world they are trying to occupy.”

“I felt a strong sense of possibility to use what I had learned from doing business and what I was learning from people who are passionate and experimental, and creating businesses of wildly different shapes.”

"I wanted to share the inspiration of what people are doing, and to also share the troubles as things we could better work on collectively. There is such a limited vocabulary for business, outside of mainstream terms. When you look at the majority of business advice for social enterprise, there’s a lot of talk about the importance of business plans, social media feeds, marketing and Unique Selling Points. But these things are actually quite alien to many kinds of not-for-profits, community-organised and passion-driven businesses.”

“The Feral MBA provides a gathering space to really consider different ways that business could be imagined and lived.”

For more information on FLOAT – Feral MBA including the cost and how to apply, click here. For more information on the Feral MBA in general, click here.

Image supplied by Kate Rich.

Story by Jenny Cameron.