New Master’s Program at MSU to Focus on Business Side of the Arts

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Michigan State University’s College of Arts and Letters will launch a new master’s of arts and cultural management multidisciplinary degree in fall 2015.

“In every segment of the arts, whether performing, visual, fine art, or support organizations, competent management is critical to success,” says Kirk Domer, chair of the university’s theater department. “That includes solo artists and how they manage their own careers. For an arts program graduate, it can be invaluable to understand the management side of the business.”

The degree — designed to prepare students for leadership positions in arts advocacy and cultural organizations, as well as entrepreneurship — requires students to take courses that cover strategy and policy planning. Students must then choose one of three distinct tracks: museum studies, artistic administration, or executive management.

“Not every graduate with an arts degree is going to become a working artist, so the value of a master’s of arts and cultural management degree becomes crystal clear,” says Chris Corneal, chair of the university’s department of art, art history, and design. “It will help prepare graduates for the myriad management, advocacy, and entrepreneurial opportunities throughout the arts and cultural fields.”

The expected student learning outcomes of the new arts and cultural management program are directly aligned with the MSU Liberal Learning Goals — in particular, analytical thinking, integrated reasoning, and communication, Corneal says.

Ken Neufeld, president and CEO of Dayton-based Victoria Theatre Association, and a 1976 MSU graduate, says such a degree could make a difference in helping to make or break a career, especially in arts leadership.

“To be a successful arts leader you need to understand a variety of art forms and how to work with artists, but also the business disciplines required to run a successful company,” Neufeld said. “It’s not easy, but it is a truly fulfilling career in which you can make a difference in people’s lives every day.”

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