The quiet town of Bloomington, Indiana has transformed over the past week into a busy college town with about 50,000 students moving into dorms and apartments. Many of them left their home for the first time, others return for another year, some are coming from foreign countries with the goal of gathering information, working towards a career of their choice, and finding new friends. Getting a college degree is a major financial commitment and the justification for such an investment has recently been a topic of discussion. The large tuition fees add up and many graduate with a dept of $ 40,000+ before even starting their first job. Especially for students in a creative field such a financial commitment can make or break a possible career and very few manage to find full-time work in their field. A recent survey of more than 92,113 arts alumni sheds light on such issues. About half of the graduates end up in non-arts fields, often citing financial reasons for leaving the arts. Of the other half that stays in arts-related occupations, the vast majority goes into education. Many of them indicate that they are happy with their degrees and the skills they learned and most of them indicate that they practice their art even if they ended up in other occupations. Here are the complete results of the survey.
What does that mean? Arts degrees teach discipline and skills but rarely result in a full-time career. Most practitioners will end up teaching and generating even more graduates in their fields. In general, practitioners are highly educated and paid below average. Many end up working several jobs in order to make ends meet. Tomorrow I will be facing about 100 future Arts Managers – students who want to be involved in the arts but realize those harsh realities. Many of them are trained in an arts field and are pursuing those skills in addition to their management training. They are bright and enthusiastic and dedicated to artistic engagement and creativity. Sometimes the vision about the arts is still narrow with a focus on the pop market. Here are the principles I’ll prepare them for:
1. The arts are essential to human life, well-being, education and society and should be acknowledged for their social and human value besides financial values.
2. A career in the arts is difficult, often a combination of a variety of activities, but extremely rewarding and always worth pursuing if there is a foundation of passion and dedication.
3. Entrepreneurial skills have become essential, work will be a combination of project ideas, leadership, communication, and management besides knowledge of the art form.
4. Cultural tourism has become a major economic driver and collaborations with cities and businesses are the path into the future.
5. Good communication and writing skills will be the essence of moving any projects forward in addition to creating large networks and relationships.
Let the games begin!