Thursday, April 06, 2006

Campus Event: Panel on Arts Administration Careers

The panel featured one of our students, who is in Interdisciplinary Studies with an eye to Arts Administration, and representatives from the Houston Film Commission, from DiverseWorks Art Space, and from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County. About 25 or so people attended, the crowd had some students, but I saw a bit more faculty. The common theme of the panel is that experience is crucial in the field of Arts Administration, especially to get the jobs higher than entry level. For entry level, very often volunteering and internships are crucial. Actually, a specific degree in Arts Administration may or not be relevant. What is really needed are skills and some art background (be it visual arts, film, drama, dance, music, etc.). Most of this industry is a "learn on the job" industry, and it can be a small world where who you know really matters. One of the panelists advised the audience to never burn bridges behind you. He told the story of a worker of his who on the last work day "told him off." Later, when that man was auditioning, guess who was sitting in the first row seat? It is also a diverse field that ranges from theatres to music halls to museums, and from small organizations to large ones that operate like corporations. There were good questions from the audience. The panel was informal, and the panel members shared their experiences with the audience. They share in common some of the experiences I have described already: starting with volunteer work and working up the ranks, the need for flexibility, and the need to gain experience. They all have different backgrounds (degrees in journalism, design, theater for instance), yet they tell the audience that basic skills like writing are very important. It is a growing field, so there should be opportunities for students who may want to go into the field, but experience will be crucial. Overall, an interesting learning event for me.

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