Knox College's new minor in arts administration will give students the skills they need for a more rapid career trajectory as practicing artists or arts managers.
Faculty in business & management, economics, theatre, music, studio art, creative writing, dance, and art history developed the minor, which includes required coursework in business, accounting, marketing, arts, and an arts internship.
"In developing the minor, we looked at the skills an arts manager needs that are portable between all of the arts," says Elizabeth Carlin Metz, Smith V. Brand Endowed Chair in Theatre Arts and program director for the new minor.
Metz and John Spittell, Wagner Distinguished Chair in Business, are co-teaching a new core course for the minor this spring, Introduction to Arts Administration. There are 17 students taking the course, which covers topics like grant writing, organizational principles, community relations and programming, board and audience development, and business ethics. The class includes real-world case studies and a hands-on introduction to local arts organizations.
Metz says that the minor, coupled with current Knox programs in art, dance, creative writing, or theatre, gives the individual artist a business platform needed for success. "This becomes a pathway that a person who's passionate about the arts can take to continue to sustain and contribute to the arts."
The minor is also great preparation for a graduate program in arts administration or for a career with an arts organization. "Arts administrators are at the center of arts presenting organizations, assuring the fiscal health, visibility, and vision of the organization, from small non-profits to multi-million dollar budget institutions," says Metz.
A few of the many career paths in arts administration include general manager, museum or gallery director, business manager, publisher, artistic director, development officer, marketing manager, grant writer, and tour manager.
Emily Trevor '17 is graduating this spring with a self-designed major in arts administration and minor in theatre directing. Her future plans include running her own theatre company. "I am so thrilled that the new arts administration minor will encourage more artists at Knox to take business classes," says Trevor. "For me, the classes I took in the business and management department have been hugely empowering and essential to my education."
"I feel in control of my life and my future because I have the tools I need to build the life of my dreams," she continued. "What more could I have asked of my college education?"
Spittell feels that arts administration is an ideal convergence of liberal arts values with practical considerations that are responsive to the educational aspirations of the 21st century student. "Arts administration has room for advancement, is portable across multiple areas of application throughout the arts and in a variety of settings and communities, and is transferable to other arenas of business and entrepreneurship."
"It gives our students the tools that they're going to need to engage in wherever life takes them."
Pictured above: Emily Trevor '17 and her team pitch the idea of a business that rents studio spaces within the Galesburg art community during Start Up Term. Trevor was also on the first-place team in this year's Simon Business School's Early Leaders Case Competition.