New arts management minor to boost student marketability

imageA new arts management minor will allow SUNY Oswego students to have the best of both worlds, said program coordinator Dr. Julie Pretzat.

“This allows students to major in their first love and minor in something that ties a lot of things together to make them more marketable,” said Pretzat, who is part of a group of faculty members from several departments who worked together to develop the program.

“For the fine or performance arts major, it adds an element of marketability in what is normally a competitive field,” said Pretzat, professor and chair of music. “A lot of students who come out with a BA in theatre or music may have to take a job in this kind of field at first and have to do their creative work on the side.”

The minor has two options: A generalist track to complement a bachelor’s degree, and an MBA track for undergraduates who plan to pursue their master’s in business administration at Oswego. Communications and business courses supplement introductory classes on working in the art, music or theatre fields.

The entertainment industry is a large and hot job field, “so for a person who may have an interest in arts and business, this can be a great opportunity,” Pretzat said.

The required internship translates class concepts into real-life experience and can help get a job after graduation, Pretzat said.

Internships can range from promoting campus cultural events at Tyler Art Gallery, Tyler Hall box office or Artswego on campus to interning with a London theatre company. Students could even fulfill the requirement as a non-credit option by volunteering significant hours for a summer theatre company or music festival.

While developing the program has been discussed on and off for around two decades, Pretzat said the real push to bring the minor together started a couple years ago with the cross-disciplinary cooperation of a group that included Associate Provost Rhonda Mandel, Matthew Friday of the art department, Richard Skolnik of the School of Business, Tina Pieraccini of communication studies and theatre chair Mark Cole.

By bringing together different disciplines, she said, “I think this is one way we can help make these connections people may not have thought about before.”

Even before promoting the interdisciplinary program, Pretzat said four students have already signed up for the new minor. “The students were really excited about it,” she said.

Chris Dousharm, a sophomore music major from Utica, is one of the first entries. “I was always interested in business, and I love music, so it seemed like a really good gateway,” he said. “It’s kind of like an entertainment-industry specific minor geared toward the business of it.”

For one of the core courses, Rob Auler’s “Business of Music” class, student teams found ways to market December’s “Collage” concert in a scenario similar to the hit NBC show “The Apprentice.” It proved an eye-opening experience about how to market the arts, Dousharm said.

“It’s a lot different when you read it in a textbook than when you’re out there doing it,” he said.

Dousharm thinks the minor could work well with people majoring in the performing or visual arts or business because it fits well with any number of other disciplines.

“It’s a really good program,” he said. “I’ve really been enjoying it.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Minor key—SUNY Oswego has added a new arts management minor to allow students with an interest in the performing or visual arts to augment their talents with business skills. Music faculty member Rob Auler, left, discusses marketing and the arts with two students interested in the program: Joe Backo, a freshman music and communication studies major, and Nick Gianopoulis, a junior music major. Auler turned his “Business of Music” class into a lesson in promotion and guerilla marketing by having students find ways to promote performances.

(Posted: Feb 09, 2005)