Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Studying arts in your Undergrad doesn’t pay off?

Since most of you in this class have taken some form of arts in your undergrad I’m curious to know from your personal experience a) Is it true that just an undergrad in arts doesn’t help give you a stable career graph and b) Is it true that you see mostly white and non hispanic students in a general arts program.

My bachelors was in computer science, I didn’t really use that in my career either. I did other stuff along the way and then decide to pursue the arts as a full time career and much later in my life. Growing up in India you studied arts in undergrad only if you weren’t smart enough to be an engineer or doctor. Of course things have changed over the past 10 years, but there is a large bias.

Would love to hear your thoughts…


6 comments on “Studying arts in your Undergrad doesn’t pay off?

  1. benjamendouglas
    October 22, 2014

    For me, (a) yes (b) yes

    There’s a great song in “Avenue Q” called “What do you do with a BA in English?” One joke we always heard is that the most important phrase to learn while getting a music degree is “Would you like fries with that?”

  2. cayleycarroll
    October 23, 2014

    A) yes; B) yes

    In retrospect, a degree in Stage & Production Management is helpful but not necessary to develop a successful career path in the field. What is necessary: skillful networking, the right attitude, a willingness to work hard, and a perpetual determination to learn.

    Learning on the job is the most effective education and costs a helluva lot less than a B.F.A. at a private art school. :-/

  3. lcrowley2014
    October 24, 2014

    Yes and yes for me too.
    Even Obama hated on my major, but I wouldn’t trade my B.A. in Art History for anything. I’d even do it all over again. I think learning for the sake of learning (rather than learning a skill) developed me more as a person and prepared me for the working world where problem solvers, creative thinkers and the perpetually curious are valued. That being said, we need a balance and I am very grateful for technical, logical and practical thinkers who studied things like accounting.
    My program was majority white women, but we did have a little diversity.

  4. yaoge2016
    October 24, 2014

    In China, the situation is similar in India, students who study arts are viewed as unintelligent except for those attending renowned arts schools. Art schools are very expensive and the education quality is not guaranteed, which makes young artists’ career path even dimmer.
    In my point of view, there must be some connections between high expenses and large portion of white and non-hispanic students, for the upper class of the country are mainly white and non-hispanic.

  5. sarasps85
    October 24, 2014

    I really “hurts” me to learn that art undergrad students are considered less than others…but well…things are changing. Artistic vocational education in Portugal (till high-school) intends to “produce” artists. The ones that choose to go for performing arts undergrad or grad studies are considered “not that talented” which obviously doesn’t represent reality. But I was encouraged to think this when I was in dance school.
    It takes so much strength and preseverence to pursuit a career in the Arts, the same way it is in Medicine and Engineering.
    It´s up to us in our future roles to change this:)

  6. laurenelizabethdickel
    October 24, 2014

    a) Yes, it does not pay off really well. While I don;t regret any moment of my degree and the amazing new life I have experienced through music, it certainly is not a area you are even remotely guaranteed to make money. Even if you get to the ‘top’ you are still paying for lessons, coaching, transportation etc.. which ends up eating up the majority of your salary.
    b) Yes, again… although my program had a semi large group of Asian-Americans and African-American musicians..

    The arts are a wonderful field to go into and need as much if not more time and devotion, than a degree in something more standard like ‘business’… That said, many of these degrees in no way prepare you for establishing a stable economic future . The arts are devalued in our society, and while people may wonder and marvel at your talents they don’t always think your talents are worth as much monetarily as other professions.

    Many of my friends, who are full time / free lance extraordinarily trained opera singers, have spent the same amount of time in school as a Law student PHD student, yet they are still living off of ridiculous salaries that can barely pay rent, let alone anything else.

    Sorry this comment drifted away from ethic diversity, but I clearly feel passionate about this subject.

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