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The Intersection of Business and the Arts

Kogod School of Business student and founder and CEO of Culturally Arts Collective strives to eliminate the narrative of the “starving artist” by bringing the arts to the metaverse.


Kogod student and founder and CEO of Culturally Arts Collective, Isabell Sliwinski


Kogod student and CEO and founder of Culturally Arts Collective (CAC), Isabell Sliwinski chose Kogod for her undergraduate education because of the unparalleled experiential learning opportunities.

“The AUCI and AU as a whole place an important focus on innovation and celebrates student pursuits,” said Sliwinski. “I was excited to go to a business school that offers startup assistance, mentors, and community to students.”

In 2020, Sliwinski came up with the idea for CAC at the start of COVID-19. “There has always been a culture of elitism in the arts, which is perpetuated by ‘real art’ falling under high-brow consumption,” said Sliwinski. 

As a lifelong visual and performing artist, I have always valued the social and personal impact of creative expression. I saw a need for a space where everyone could be an artist and share their talents and stories.”


Isabell Sliwinski

Founder and CEO of CAC

We wanted to learn more about CAC and how the AUCI and Kogod have helped Sliwinski expand her startup. See what she had to say below.  

Kogod: Can you tell us about your startup, Culturally Arts Collective?

Sliwinski: Culturally Arts Collective is an internationally serving arts advocacy nonprofit working for accessibility and representation in the arts through exhibitions, education, outreach, and professional development. We bridge art and technology through our online gallery spaces, featuring 3D 360-degree virtual reality (VR) exhibition rooms. We offer three bi-monthly group exhibitions with free open calls, solo exhibitions, VR gallery replicas, and a premiere art magazine for emerging artists. Our community outreach effort works with art education for children’s shelters and hospitals. We work to cultivate a culture of artistic innovation upholding the academic integrity of the arts, uplifting contemporary expression, and challenging the status quo.

Our main goal at CAC is to be a gallery platform for artists to exhibit their work and gain exhibition credits to break into the industry–eliminating the narrative of the “starving artist.” We hope to help bring the arts into the metaverse–business to consumer (B2C) with artists and business to business (B2B) with galleries.

How has the AUCI helped you grow CAC?

The AUCI has helped me grow CAC through mentorship, such as the initial suggestion to refocus operations to B2B instead of B2C for a wider market reach. AUCI management is always accessible and eager to help in the business or product development processes. The incubator’s skills labs and webinars with professors throughout the semester are especially impactful as they cover topics such as taxation and corporate governance. Having the AUCI incubator space to work allows for a productive office environment. 

Through the incubator program and the AUCI, I have been able to meet so many other startup founders, professors, and industry leaders in the DMV area to grow my personal and professional network."


Isabell Sliwinski

Founder and CEO of CAC

How has your Kogod education helped you with your professional endeavors?

Kogod’s business core classes have helped me expand my knowledge of all aspects of the business field. As a startup founder, there are times when you are the accountant, the human resources (HR) manager, and the content creator. Therefore, taking classes such as financial accounting, business law, and economics for business has helped me understand how to properly manage and mentor each department. I even modeled operations and product development after projects I’ve done in my classes.

How have your own hands-on experiences as the founder and CEO of Culturally Arts Collective helped you succeed in your courses at Kogod?

The best way to learn is by doing. Through my work in nearly every department of CAC from marketing to HR and sales, I can see how textbook concepts apply to day-to-day business operations and vice versa."


Isabell Sliwinski

Founder and CEO of CAC

I have been able to pitch operational examples from CAC to replicate for my work in group projects or class presentations.

What has been your proudest moment since you founded CAC?

I am most proud of our global impact. Culturally Arts Collective features almost 2,000 works from 700+ artists from 100 countries across six continents in our permanent and traveling collections. We get to talk to industry professionals and negotiate deals with artists from Italy, Lebanon, Hungary, Mexico, China, etc. daily. Our community service education efforts have established programs in Texas, California, Kentucky, DC, Ohio, and more domestically, along with international cohorts in Dubai, UAE, and Bucaramanga, Colombia. Sharing in arts and culture internationally makes me excited to work every day.

What does the future look like for CAC?

We are looking to develop our own VR/user-navigational 3D gallery software through the I-CORPS program at AU. With this, we are looking to focus on expanding our group exhibition programs and launching three new products–creating custom 3D galleries for individual artists, “renting” out solo exhibition space on our site’s Milostka Center for Exhibitions, and replicating with brick-and-mortar galleries in the 3D virtual form. We are looking to partner with at least 10 artists and/or galleries by the end of the year to create virtual exhibitions. Long term, we would like to acquire a physical gallery space in the DMV area to uphold our mission of accessibility through art as community activation.

Culturally Arts Collective is recruiting remote and hybrid DC interns for the spring 2023 semester in financial management, art curation, international business (client relations), and marketing. Applications are open on the CAC website