Marketing. Communications. Programming. Finance. These are the specialized skillsets of professionals who run nonprofit arts organizations across the country. Those are also the same skills that teenagers at the Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing and Visual Arts have been acquiring during the first year of their unique arts administration club. They’ve been getting a first-hand look at careers in the arts thanks to the staff of the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center, who have played a key role in the program through small group discussions and groups and one-one-mentoring.
“The full time-work of professional artists requires more than just their creative gifts,” says Doug Curtis, president and CEO of the Center. “We know that business acumen will only strengthen their creative work whether they pursue a career on the stage or in the board room. “
Curtis describes the club as an imperative for the many students who will be entering the workforce in coming years. He believes that the next generation can contribute meaningfully to the evolution of arts organizations. “In today’s nonprofit landscape, it’s critical to have individuals with core capacities in business management in addition to a passion for their work… it’s the future for organizations just like the AT&T Performing Arts Center.”
Texas’ creative sector employs 730,000 individuals and contributes to $11 million of generated tax income, with all economic signs that the trend will only continue. Schools like Booker T. Washington and those with a strong arts focus can help channel their students into careers right in their hometown, retaining quality hometown graduates who will help North Texas’ cultural and business communities thrive.
Education Manager Jessica Roberts, herself an artists and arts administrator, wants students to know that the arts field is wide, but it’s not the only place for their gifts. “These students have so many talents, and they need to know that they can translate them beautifully into a wide variety of jobs – that they can use their arts skills like dedication, self-discipline and teamwork in any endeavor.”
“It really comes down to business sense,” Curtis says. “North Texas has a pool of students whose achievements and talent have prepared them to thrive as artists, entrepreneurs and employees in many sectors – we just have to guide them and give them the learning experiences they can use.”
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