This chart identifies some of the primary pressures being applied to program implementation and curricular design. By cataloging these forces, we can better understand how they shape the discipline.



Curricular Structures

Arts Entrepreneurship curricula is in a developing phase, with indistinct objectives, various delivery methods and philosophies. Though this should be a question later in a development process, curricular content is only one in a string of variables that helps to define the classroom experience.

Generally speaking, there are four curricular models; New Venture Creation (NVC), Transitioning, Bridging and Leadership.

The NVC model is most popular in our nation’s public universities. With NVC as the popularly perceived purpose of entrepreneurship education, it is axiomatic that many programs concentrate on business creation. In this model, Arts students are taught standard business skills similair to business undergraduates; accounting, corporate structures, management, economics, finance, etc. However, the NVC model can lack breadth. Non-profit topics are unevenly approached and grantsmanship is often excluded. In essence, arts students become typical business students – no distinction is drawn between them nor is there an effort to integrate the the arts industries or culture into business study. With some nuances, “degrees” in Arts Entrepreneurship usually incoporate coursework found in academic business minors.

Transition models are rare and reflect a distinctive philosophy – to "transition students into professional careers in the arts." Occurring primarily in conservatory environments, this model is designed for those students on a typical professional arts employment track. Indeed these students are trained for this possibility but it is the curriculum that partly defines this stance. Most stand-alone programs offer courses in professional development, entrepreneurship, arts leadership, intellectual property, “self-marketing,” grantsmanship and community outreach. It is easy to see how, through these offerings, that transitioning these students requires a concerted effort and is reflective of the number of skill sets students must acquire to complete the transition.

Other efforts manifest the philosophy differently; the transition occurs as an integrated effort. In these cases, professional development education is integrated into the core arts curriculum. Thus, students learn arts and professional development skills concurrently - in the same educational space and context at the same time. Coupled with a standard (non-integrated) NVC entrepreneurship curriculum and strong career service offices, the "transition to a professional career in the arts" becomes a crucial part of the educational experience rather than a series of distinct courses or electives adjunct to the degree plan.

The bridging model is a response to the NVC and is intended to link two distinct skill sets; the arts skill set students receive during their college training and a business skill set. The bridge itself is curricular; exposing the cultural and economic environment arts ventures inhabit. It introduces students to the broader context of the arts and the existing entrepreneurial ecology.

In the leadership model, the focus is student self-empowerment and shares some social entrepreneurship ideals. In this context, leadership is as much promoting good citizenship, serving and building communities, as it is audience development and adopting an entrepreneurial attitude in one’s career. Though few efforts such as this exist, some art institutions in the development phase are considering this model. With the potential of "leadership" to address some critical issues in arts culture, it would come as no surprise to see the new wave of programs adopting this model.

Adapted from Beckman, Gary. "Arts Entrepreneurship Education: Defining Key Philosophical Structures.” 2006. (Presented at ARNOVA National Meeting, Chicago, Il).

As with all new disciplines, there are growing pains. Limits of inquiry, focus, terminology and methodology are but a few obstacles any new field must traverse. Yet the basis for many disciplines is a body of theory and some agreement on critical terminology and outcomes - even if the agreement is to agree to disagree or, to freely interpret from various theoretical models.

Definitions: Perhaps the most immediate hurdle is understanding what needs to be defined and what does not. Obviously, the elephant in the room - "Entrepreneurship" - must be managed at some point. Yet other critical terms, limits and concepts can be defined in short order. For example, "Professional Development" in this context appears both muddled and easily managed.

Intellectual Engagement: As Arts Entrepreneurship educators develop their field, a natural inclination to explore other theories and exemplars will emerge. To this point, a written record of these explorations and new understandings has yet to manifest. With over 50 years of years of theory in almost 100 journals, entrepreneurial theorists have spilled gallons of ink on the topic. Arts Entrepreneurship instructors will have to contextualize these sources - as well as emerging trends - to create a unique and dynamic field.

Putting it all together...

When discussing the state of the discipline - or any aspect of it - we must keep in mind that all of these forces are intertwined and react in interesting ways.

The success of any Arts Entrepreneurship effort must address many of these variables. This is not to say that each effort re-invents the wheel. Instead, through strong, experienced and determined leadership, these efforts find a stasis within their respective programs based partly upon the culture of the institution, faculty and administration. Granted, this may seem overwhelming to some but in reality, new efforts and movements in higher education occur frequently and confront the same realities; many are successful because of good planning, strong leadership and support from a variety of sources.

This analysis is meant simply to outline the basic forces Arts Entrepreneurship efforts must engage. It is not the purpose of the AEEN to provide solutions but to inform administrators, educators and curriculum designers about the topic.