: Arts Culture

Submitted by: Gary Beckman

Institution: The University of Texas at Austin

Course Title: "Entrepreneurship in the Arts"

Division Offered: College of Fine Arts - Fall 2006

Demographic: Undergraduates [Fine Arts, Liberal Arts & Business] & Graduates [Fine Arts]

Date: 9/1/06

Type of Activity: Research

Learning Objectives:

1) To learn about non-profit arts culture.

2) To demonstrate that there are organizations and concepts that when combined, create the differing pillars of arts culture.

3) To explore the entrepreneurial opportunities for arts students within the context of arts culture.

Student Evaluation Method: Activity within the classroom community, research paper.

Description: Each student is designated as the classroom "expert" in a certain aspect of the arts cultural landscape. (eg. Arts Policy, Economic Impact, Arts Models, Creative Economy, Arts Management, etc.). This designation lasts for the entire semester. Each student is required to research and become accountable to the rest of the class for this information. Further, in support of each student's semester capstone project for the class (a feasibility study), they can call upon the classroom expert and solicit information.

Example: Amy is completing her feasibility study and needs to find an economic impact study of indigenous art in western North Carolina and cannot find a recent report. She emails Roger who is the classroom expert for this area and makes the request. Roger sends Amy the report and copies the instructor on the email.

Instructor Comments: I'm a big fan of student's learning the culture of any proposed venture before suggesting that they launch. With the present state of arts training, it's difficult for students to have a sense of the cultural landscape and nonprofit culture much less their future entrepreneurial profession. This technique is aimed at solving this problem.

In this exercise, students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a distinct aspect of arts culture for an entire semester. Likewise, their peers can get information outside of class and actually start communicating outside of the classroom about their careers and dreams. Having students copy me on the emails that flow back and forth is a great way to monitor their answers and hopefully, provide additional topics during class. For those students who feel more comfortable outside of the regular meeting time, this helps them engage the topic in a less threatening manner.

What I like most about this technique is that it teaches community building and trust between the students and the instructor. A number of students have told me that this was a great way to build self-confidence as well. How many times is a student given a responsibility in class, much less an intellectual responsibility that has the potential for both positive and negative consequences for their new found colleague?

One word about the example. Students are allowed to ask their classroom experts questions only if they've experienced difficulty in gathering the information themselves. Most of the time, the information students need to create well designed feasibility plans is located in unfamiliar corners of the library. This, of course, isn't their fault. How many arts policy papers did we read as undergraduates? Not many I'd guess- unless you where on the arts management track!