Arts Entrepreneurship Class Progress

–following up on my promise to keep interested readers up-to-date on my class, Arts Entrepreneurship.  Recall that I posed 2 major assignments.  The first of these was to identify an existing arts organization, study it deeply, then pose one expanded program and one new one.  The second of these was to write/create a business plan for a new venture.

For the first assignment students were grouped according to arts interest area (visual arts, literary arts, dance, music, theatre).  For the second assignment students were given the option to work individually or in groups.

The first assignments were presented last week in class and exceeded my already-high expectations.  The ideas were canny and fresh, the plans realistic.  The only area that lacked (understandably because of the secondary nature of the assignment) was feasibility.  In the discussion that followed presentations, it became clear to all of us that arts organizations rarely conduct in-depth and revelatory feasibility studies.  We referenced our work and internship experiences in drawing this conclusion.  I had to admit that I had participated, in fact initiated a number of programs without seriously addressing feasibility

The second assignment took what should have been an expected turn.  I had advised that perhaps students’ greatest need in imagining and forming a new venture would be their lack of knowledge of their chosen field.  This has proven to be so, and as such, in some cases students will not develop a full business plan, but a deep research dive into the field in which they plan to build their plans.

An interesting (and scary) proposal comes from the only team to tackle the final assignment.  They want to form a summer festival site that will feature classical music, drama and theatre.  My first reaction was to say no to this idea, as there are so many of these models now being challenged by changing audience preferences, etc., but then I thought better of it.  In studying existing models, those successful and those less-than-successful, these students will truly learn the many elements involved in entrepreneurship. 

I’ll make one final post on the class — in June, after final projects are presented.

About the author

James Undercofler

Jim has been a Professor at Drexel University since May, 2009. His previous appointment - since August, 2007 - was as the President and CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Jim was Dean of the Eastman School of Music from 1997 to 2007. He has played a prominent role in musical arts and music education throughout his career. Before joining Eastman in 1995 as associate director for academic affairs and professor of music education, he was an active, performing chamber musician as well as first horn in the New Haven Symphony. Jim serves as board president, American Music Center; advisory board member, Arts Education Policy Review; board member, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, New York State Association of College Music Programs and American Symphony Orchestra League, and is a founding member, NETWORK of Performing and Visual Arts Schools and Mercury Opera of Rochester.

Read James Undercofler's blog [l=]here[/l].

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