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Issues Affecting the Field of Arts Entrepreneurship


The traditions and micro-cultures in Arts higher education are fairly well known, though briefly describing each here will outline the basic issues that the field negotiates within Higher Education.

Institutional, Departmental & Disciplinary Culture - The relative tendency to embrace changes in direction, tradition or philosophy is typically difficult for large institutions. In arts higher education, this is mostly expressed as resistance to Arts Entrepreneurship education based on a student’s need to become “the best artist they can be.” This precludes additional demands on a student’s time outside of the practice room - such as entrepreneurship education.

Popular Culture - the shared culture of everyday life. In the context of Arts Entrepreneurship education, those who are interested in what the field can do for the Fine Arts may see the music of popular culture as threat to Western-European “classical” art.

Faculty Resistance - in the minds of many, it is faculty (mostly applied) who oppose an Entrepreneurial component in Arts higher education. This is, however, somewhat misleading as younger faculty assume these roles.

19th Century Aesthetics - The aesthetic tradition most commonly associated with the European “fine arts” after 1810. It is also referred to as the "Arts for Arts sake" aesthetic where Art and its creator are objectified.

Business Schools - Since many entrepreneurship departments are housed within Business Schools, it comes as no surprise that they have a significant influence on Arts Entrepreneurship education. Their effect beyond curriculum modeling has yet to be fully felt, however. For example, Entrepreneurship departments are engaging Fine Arts units by helping to provide curricula, assist with program design, etc. This purpose of this outreach is to develop synergies with both student populations.

K-12 Arts Education - Perhaps the least mentioned issue in this context, arts undergraduates are products of other educational systems and traditions. This means that the relative propensity for incoming students to embrace Entrepreneurship education in the arts will be based somewhat on their exposure to the topic during their K-12 experience.

Accreditation Standards - Institutions must meet the requirements of their accreditation boards. Since Arts Entrepreneurship degrees are not accredited by the National Office of Arts Accreditation (NOAA), it comes as no surprise that the topic is not in the forefront for most. However, there has been significant interest by the organization recently.

State Mandated Degree Requirements - Public institutions must meet the state mandated credit hour limits for most degree plans. For these institutions especially, adding an Arts Entrepreneurship component into the degree plan directly puts significant pressure on those institutions.

Bloated Degree Plans - The combined accreditation, institutional, departmental and state mandates have reduced the number of electives for undergraduates significantly. Thus, many of today's arts students do not have the opportunity to explore other topics of interest like their predecessors decades before. This challenges Arts Entrepreneurship educators and administrators alike when considering the delivery method of courses, workshops and guest speakers.

Student Need - There are always students who desire in-depth career assistance. For decades, however, these needs have been met inconsistently. Yet increasingly, faculty and administrators are becoming more responsive to these needs. In the 21st century, the demand for the arts will likely remains high, yet arts students are not prepared to embark on an entrepreneurial career in the arts.

Career Service Offices - Traditionally, these professionals have helped young artists with internships, resumes, gigs and most importantly, “jobs” in the arts. As Arts Entrepreneurship has taken hold, many of these professionals embrace entrepreneurship education when resistance or logistics from other units precludes any formal effort.

New Trends in Technology - With students becoming increasingly tech-savvy, these “digital natives” are much more facile in recognizing the opportunities that technology, social media, etc. provide for an emerging artist.

Cross-Campus Entrepreneurship Minors - These formalized efforts are unique in that (typically) business schools offer an “entrepreneurship minor” to students regardless of discipline. In part they can quite valuable, yet many lack the discipline-specific details arts students require. This might include: non-profit management and startup, grantsmanship, project management, opportunity recognition, etc.

Changes in Higher Education- This would include: new funding streams as states scale-back support for higher education, the assessment movement, a decrease in tenure-track faculty lines, idiosyncratic educational priorities such as leadership and creativity education, a reconsideration of educational missions such as becoming more aware of the university in community life, etc.

The "Moral Question” - In the arts, this question is framed thusly: “Why are we training artists when there are no jobs for them when they graduate?”

Definitions of Entrepreneurship - For those outside of the business school, defining the term is critical. With no consensus on the term, many arts units are defining “entrepreneurship” uniquely to suit their unique needs.

Social Entrepreneurship - This is a difficult sub-discipline to define, yet is making significant headway in many business schools. In

To further muddle the topic, popular perceptions of "Entrepreneurship" as New Venture Creation (NVC) tend to frame the entire conversation.

New Venture Creation - This is the standard entrepreneurship curriculum found in most business schools, which focuses on starting and sustaining a for-profit business. See S. Spinelli and J. Timmons, New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century, McGraw Hill (2003).