Art incubator opens at Biscayne campus

By Anna Radinsky/Assistant News Director


The Biscayne Bay campus officially opened its own entrepreneurial hub by introducing the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator.

While StartUP FIU is based on the Modesto Maidique Campus and the FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS) is on Lincoln Road, this will be a program unique to BBC.

The Ratcliffe Incubator is an initiative for providing mentorship towards CARTA students to turn artistic and design-based ideas into real-world entrepreneurial plans.

Socioeconomic status within Miami and the needs of University students were some of the reasons to why the BBC campus was chosen to host the new office space of the Incubator, according to Neil Ramsay, visiting instructor, Ratcliffe-in-resident and on-site artist.

“Miami is a place that is definitely a hotspot or a big example of what inequality looks like in the United States of America,” Ramsay said. “Meaning, it’s very rich and not so [rich]. The disparity between the two is quite big.”

The Miami Herald reported that Miami has the greatest gap between the rich and the poor among big U.S. cities, according to Bloomberg calculations.

“How does that relate to the Incubator? [The sponsor of the Incubator’s] background and interests are in the survivorship or the sustainability of artists in careers after they graduate,” Ramsay said.

Carole R. Ratcliffe partnered CARTA’s Department of Art +Art History with the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Inc. to open the art + design entrepreneurship spaces, according to the Incubator’s website.

Originally housed at the MBUS starting in August 2017, the Incubator’s first cohort of students accepted eight undergraduate and graduate students into the program. After the space in AC11 Room 150 was built and finished in February 2018, the students experienced a transition when changing locations.

Gianna DiBartolomeo, a graduate student pursuing a master’s in fine arts, said that commuting to the Incubator at BBC was just another part of adapting to being an artist.

“Most of my classes are on the MMC campus, but I think that by being an artist in Miami you learn very quickly that most of art life is about schlepping- just taking your work and moving it,” DiBartolomeo said. “It’s not like everyone comes to you.”

Hector Brignone, a senior majoring in graphic design, said that commuting from the MMC campus to the BBC campus by bus made his commute to the Incubator easier. He was also able to appreciate the outside benefits of attending the Incubator at BBC.

“Honestly, my favorite part about being at BBC was being next to the water. We had one or two meetings outside… It’s a nice location and I really enjoy being there,” Brignone said.

Victoria Yunta, a second year graduate student pursuing her master’s in fine arts, appreciated the new location but believed that having more equipment within the facility would make it a more solid space.

“If there was a way to set up a laser cutter within our vents, that would be really awesome,” Yunta said. “Other than that, I think the space is really awesome. We have lots of really nice equipment and our 3D printer is amazing.”

The Ratcliffe Incubator will undergo a selection process for a new group of students in July.

“Students come in knowing how to design or create a piece of art. But how do you take that and integrate business with your ability, training, and education?” Ramsay said. “ By being able to introduce students of a lower socioeconomic background and a diversity of race at FIU… there is a potential impact for the community.”

For more information or to learn how to apply to the Ratcliffe Incubator, students can visit


Featured image by Anna Radinsky

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