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Katherine Macnaughton & Ashley Werhun take mentorship to the next level (Mentorly.co)

Season #4 Episode #140

Mentorly was Co-founded by artist-entrepreneurs, Ashley Werhun, professional dancer formerly with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and Katherine Macnaughton, Filmmaker and Co-founder of Bis Films. Both are working artists with 20 years combined professional experience.

Mentorly is the first online arts mentorship platform providing accessible and engaging opportunities to connect with emerging and professional artists from around the world.

their mission is to empower artists by fostering learning through creative exchanges and to giving back to the community through our InKind Fund.

As working artists, Mentorly’s co-founders united over a common pain point. On one hand, Ashley, would receive hundreds of informal requests for advice that would clog up her Facebook messenger and Instagram inbox. As much as she wanted to help these aspiring dancers, the channel seemed too informal and inefficiently setup for providing thoughtful guidance. She noticed that this happened to the artists around her and wondered if it was a problem that crossed industries - it was.

Katherine, however, experienced the gap from a different perspective. “Founding a video production company right out of school and building it for the following 8 years was extremely rewarding, but also isolating at times. I often felt I missed out on the opportunity to build a network of peers and more importantly, experienced and like-minded professionals that I could look up to for guidance. What I really needed was a mentor.”

Both set out to fill this gap by building a platform that would foster creative exchanges and overall unite and strengthen the art community. After speaking with hundreds of artists who expressed the same pain points, the gap became achingly apparent: artists are hard-pressed to find guidance that can help steer their careers, develop and sharpen skills, and build confidence. This led to an urgent call to action: to provide direct access to mentors in one stroke and Mentorly was the timely solution. Since launch, the feedback has been resoundingly positive with many users asking us why this platform hasn’t existed sooner!

Mentorship is essential to growth, though it is often informal and inaccessible to most. It’s difficult to find a mentor in any profession, not just the arts. Universities feel this gap every day. They have experienced alumni that want to give back to their alma mater and enrolled students but they don’t live in the same city and are most often only solicited for donations. Students, however, attend that school because of their respected programs and resulting successful alumni. They aspire to be like them, but are currently disconnected from past graduates. The task of bringing them together and guiding these young minds is often left to a handful of staff who are already doing a million other things. By streamlining mentorship, Mentorly adds value to any university or organization. Mentorly, most recently is working with MIT!

“Finally something truly helpful in the world of art education and an opening gate & path to realizing a dream for many more creative people! (...) Linking people who want to learn with the people who have paid their dues and achieved a measure of success in their discipline has been rare and often extremely expensive. You are changing that!” - Barbara Rogers

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