Professor, School of Music: California State University, Northridge
Why did you develop this Entrepreneurship course and how long did it take you to navigate the design, development and authorization process?
I proposed the development of this area while interviewing here in the spring of 2004. This kind of course fits CSUN’s community service-learning centered philosophies, and the infrastructure needed to support the course was already in place. I began navigating the design of the course in August of 2006 and submitted it soon after that as an Experimental Topics Course Proposal. Final approval came in March of 2007, after receiving music department faculty support, college support, university educational policies committee support, and university graduate studies support. The course is being offered for the first time this semester and it filled to capacity prior to classes starting, and currently has a wait list.
The course is currently a 3 credit elective offering, and my colleagues and I intend to use outcomes assessment to determine the future direction of the course and the placement of it in our degree programs. We also hope the course will encourage innovative synergies, collaborative activities and interdisciplinary opportunities with other departments in the future. I have invited 15 guest speakers to take part in this first semester.
How is your class designed? Did you examine models of other Arts Entrepreneurship classes as a part of the decision making process?
I became interested in Arts Entrepreneurship over an 11 year administrative tenure, and over that time collected every article I could find on the topic. I also instigated and became involved in numerous programmatic efforts in this area over the years. I subsequently had some clear ideas about how I wanted to organize this class, based on course objectives I felt would serve the students well while providing a rich cultural resource for our surrounding communities and public schools. However, I had never taught an actual course on this subject before and realized I needed to look at other models and get input from those already successful in such an endeavor. At that point, Jamal Rossi at Eastman connected me to Ray Ricker, who provided me with numerous syllabi models, project ideas, and a wealth of valuable input. Kevin Woelfel at CU also provided me with sample course and syllabi ideas, as did Angela Beeching at NEC, who not only gave me syllabi samples but many other teaching ideas and measurable outcomes ideas. John Richmond at UNL also had some wonderful ideas he shared with me. Tayloe Harding at USC was magnificent with his generosity. He not only shared ideas from his own experiences, but also helped me with the parts of my proposal that required measuring student learning outcomes and methods of assessing those outcomes. Most importantly, Tayloe connected me to Gary Beckman, who spent countless hours with me discussing all of these issues. All of these people continue to this day, a year after starting on this adventure, to graciously assist me, answer my questions and give focus to my efforts.
Were there other departments you collaborated with during this process and what was their reaction to the class?
I collaborated with the chairs of the marketing and business departments, both of whom were extremely supportive of the music department’s efforts to initiate this course into our curriculum for our majors. They encouraged us to “own” the course and did not balk at all at the use of the word “entrepreneurship” in the course title. They did request, however, that the course reflect less than 50% business content, so that their national accreditor would not feel the music department was offering a “closet” non-accredited business course. To that end, they asked me to consider limiting the use of words like “business plan” (changed to “community project plan”); “cash flow”, “management” and “accounting”. I have invited both of these chairs to be guest speaker for the course.
Consensus building within the faculty and administration is an important part of the development and authorization process. How did you build consensus for your course?
The only thing I really had to do was answer questions that arose at different levels about what the subject would actually entail, and about whether it would duplicate course work in our Music Industry Studies major. This entrepreneurship course is for all our degree options, though, and I found that remaining positive in response to the curiosity and some initial misunderstanding just provided a great opportunity to discuss the important issues.
How did your colleagues in the music department react to your efforts?
My colleagues unanimously supported my efforts,from voting for my proposal to contributing wonderful ideas and assisting in getting the word out to the students during pre-registration. Many of them hung up posters outside their offices and encouraged their students to enroll in the course.
What are your desired student outcomes for the class?
I want the students to learn how to integrate the spirit of caring, being relevant and being an indispensable resource into the mechanics of the capitalist system. I want them to learn how to provide meaningful and powerful leadership to the communities they will inhabit, by learning that leadership is a serving, entrepreneurial relationship with others that inspires growth and excellence. The students who make themselves a valuable resource can expect others to want to be a part of their work.
This is the larger context within which they will learn to conceive of a community project plan, do grant proposals, construct effective resumes and bios, research career information, create value through creative ventures, examine policy implications of audience and artistic trends, network through collaborative opportunities, etc.
Do you have specific texts for the class and what drew you to these texts? In your opinion, what do they have to offer students?
I am using Angela Beeching’s “Beyond Talent” as my required text. I was aware of the book as an alumna of New England Conservatory, and used it for a class I taught here in spring of 2006 that was for string majors only, but was outreach/community oriented. The students raved about that book beyond anything I anticipated, and so there was no question in my mind that I would use this same book for the text for this new class. It is organized very well and gives many practical examples, and many students told me the book opened up a new world to them. I also was able to get an institutional subscription for our music department here to the on-line “Bridge – Worldwide Music Connection” that originates from NEC as well, and I am requiring the students to use it. It includes many opportunities in many different areas of activity and is perfect for my course.
How are non-profit topics treated?
I will have a lawyer and an accountant come in as guest speakers regarding the specifics of this topic and related topics; however, I will be concentrating on the culture of both foundation and private philanthropy as well, giving students a view of the larger picture. I hope to adequately show students how to research what possible funders care about and support. Showing them what to look for and consider long before their pen meets the paper is a vital part of the mindset I am trying to open up for them as they emerge from the practice room and the vacuum of some of their experiences.
How have students reacted to this process?
I have found the student initiative here to be very high, and they take responsibility for their own opportunities and learning. I am the faculty advisor for a student organization which started out from my efforts to have student representatives work with faculty and administration, but they took it further and started a CSUN student organization that helps to raise money for department events, etc. (Northridge Musicians Association). This group of students were receptive to the idea of music entrepreneurship early on, and spread the word. It must have worked, because the class filled to capacity, I have over-enrolled it by 6 students and there is still a wait list.
What advice or suggestions could you offer others who are contemplating such efforts?
I would advise anyone embarking on this journey to remember in their own mind why it is important to innovate new efforts, and to remain patient when questions arise, when the process runs you all over campus, and when the misconceptions pop up about what any form of arts entrepreneurship really is. The process is a positive opportunity, however, and it helps to remember that, even when it feels like walking through quicksand. Remind others how these efforts will provide a valuable resource for students in a time of great change in all sectors of our society.
Also take advantage of any opportunity extended to you to incorporate arts entrepreneurship ideas off campus as well. I had the good fortune to offer two sessions at the Beverly Hills International Music Festival last month entitled “Empowered Entrepreneurship: How to Innovate, Create and Sustain A Career in Music.” I offered myself as a future mentor and resource to the students who attended, and that snowballed into activities which have helped promote the fabric of what we are all trying to do through the AEEN effort, thanks to Gary Beckman. Lastly, always take advantage of that networking system to avoid feeling isolated in your efforts!