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Blue Connection is set to change its look and structure in October 2012. Opened in 2003, Blue Connection has been a venue for Millikin University student, faculty, and alumni artists to showcase and sell their work as part of Millikin University’s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program. Starting in October 2012, the gallery will become a retail laboratory for student-launched, arts-related businesses to grow their ventures. The October After 5 Live event is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5 from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. In October and March of each year, community members will see a new set of student businesses and products featured in the store.

The change comes after the successful launch of BC Studios in October 2011. BC Studios, an arts and business incubator located in the lower level of Blue Connection, rotates student “mini businesses” every six months as part of Millikin students’ coursework. Students are expected to use a performance-based learning approach by launching a micro-venture at BC Studios. Products are conceived, designed, and crafted by the students who sell them. Previous micro-ventures have sold jewelry, T-shirts, up-cycled bags and sweaters, and children’s theatre kits. On Friday, Oct. 5 a new set of students will share their business ideas with the community by selling products ranging from candy arrangements to printed bags.

After their experience in BC Studios, students will use Blue Connection as the venue to expand and grow their business’ offerings. Silk-screened T-shirts from Stencil-Vania, CDs from First Step Records and Blue Box Records, positive message and inspirational buttons from Button Up, and whole leaf Adagio tea and gift sets are products that will be featured during the Oct. 5 After 5 Live event.

B.J. Warren, Millikin instructor of entrepreneurship and Blue Connection manager, says that the new structure for Blue Connection “provides students with a more personalized experience. They turn their individual passions into viable business opportunities and get to experiment with their ideas on a grand scale, while still having the safety net of an academic setting.” Warren adds that it is the community’s support of Blue Connection and student startups over the past nine years that has allowed Millikin’s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program to expand the opportunities it affords students who want to be self-employed or start their own business. “Millikin’s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program is the leader in multidisciplinary arts entrepreneurship education. We not only teach students the tools necessary to become self-employed, we expect them to demonstrate, experiment, and master these skills - starting their careers while they are still in school.”

Opened in 2003, Blue Connection is Millikin’s arts and business accelerator located in the Madden Arts Center in downtown Decatur. Focused on arts and specialty businesses, the retail location is used by students in Millikin University's Arts & Entrepreneurship Program to grow their businesses. Millikin’s Arts & Entrepreneurship Program is a six-credit course sequence providing performance-based learning opportunities for students to practice self-employment. The program utilizes curricular-based activities and student-run ventures to give students a live laboratory experience in developing, launching, and growing a business.

The October After 5 Live event featuring the opening of BC Studios and the new look of Blue Connection will be held Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 from 5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Blue Connection’s Downtown location, 117 N. Water St. in Decatur. Complimentary refreshments will be provided by Lock Stock & Barrel. The event is free and open to the public.

For further information on Millikin University’s Blue Connection, visit www.millikin.edu/blueconnection or contact the gallery at 217.428.0112.
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL