An article in the latest issue of Billboard, the music industry trade pub, features three full pages of universities and colleges that offer business courses for artists entering the music industry.  This made an impression on us because not a single institution came to mind that offers any commensurate curriculum for people entering the metal arts. That's not to say unequivocally that there are none, but we'd be surprised if we could find three, much less three pages.

Is this a function of financial expectations? There's a lot more money in music than metal. So perhaps it is expected that one must learn to manage one's music business. Perhaps the institutions teaching metal arts don't expect their charges to make money, so why waste time teaching skills that will never be applied. Maybe it is just a simple case of the blind leading the blind.

Of course, many in the metal arts go on to establish and run successful businesses.   In the face of decades-long dwindling support for arts education in America, we in the field could do ourselves and our peers greater service by bulwarking the current curriculum offerings to  ensure that the arts have a greater chance of being a  financially rewarding career path.  Unfortunately, many institutions have taken an opposite course,  virtually guaranteeing marginalization for their graduates.

So the question stands. What does music know that metal don't?

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This True, It Should start in Elementary School !!! The Metals Programs have dropped the ball.
Perhaps in music they usualy learn in groups, they know how to work toguether. In our spcific area most of the time we develop our work alone, and it it is rather dificult to built something in group. This caracteristic is very ussfull for managing criativity, and to brought something new, but very limitative to afirm us has a class.
Hopping that this statment make sense in english, if not I´m sorry.
Well, I can reassure you by telling you that in our courses at North Glasgow College (where I teach), business is a good part of the course and we teach it at every level, from beginner to degree. It is not taught by us jewellers, either, but by practitioners from the industry or related industries and by business lecturers.
The students often aren't too keen on it as it gets them out of the workshop, but we actually get students choosing our course because we have the business elements.
Bravo! It sounds like Glasgow and many non-US schools really have their act together.

Baldwin-Wallace College, where I'm working on my Entrepreneurship MBA, requires all of their undergrad students to have a minor. Anyone who is majoring in the arts, BW has a phenomenal conservatory and art program, is STRONGLY encouraged to minor in entrepreneurship.

At the grad level, teamwork and group projects are the life blood of my program. I'm about half way through and during this time I'm seen my skills in communication, critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork among many others reach a whole new level. This experience has been the perfect complement to my creative skills and I'm so glad that I've taken this path.

Teamwork is critical to the performing arts. I've seen many studio artists bristle at the thought of collaboration.
Jillian Moore brought up the point of collaboration in a discussion a few months back. Specifically, that craft used to be practiced as collaborative teams of artisans functioning like a small manufacturing business. Where this is practiced today, we find that the people involved (ie. Thomas Mann) are just as often attacked for it within our field. This appears to be a uniquely American perspective on the arts.
"attacked for it within our field"

Sad, but true....If I had a dime for every nasty thing that been said about my choice to pursue an MBA over a MFA I wouldn't have to worry about tuition.
I have noticed that the UK introduces their students to the industry a lot more than it seems here in the US. I think our universities here have failed us (USA) miserably in preparing our artists for business or introducing them to industry and/or emphasizing to the industry that artists have a place as it seems they do in the UK. I had one semester of business (not required, as it probably should be) at Moore College of Art in 95'. Artists' across the board here should ROCK OUT in business more at university!
As an educator, I know that my primary role is to empower students with knowledge, skills, and the confidence to use them. As a metals educator, I believe that knowledge and skills related to small scale fabrication and the aesthetics of the corresponding forms of the field are the most important.

I resolutely AGREE that graduates that also receive training and knowledge in business, marketing, and other practical skills have a greater chance to become active and successful artists.

Metals programs (as well as wood, fibers, ceramics, and glass) are shrinking or disappearing. The decisions being made by art department administrations are not about whether or not they should implement additional courses or curriculum related to the business end of art. More frequently, they are deciding whether 2-person programs can still survive with only one full time faculty member on the payroll, or should they just dissolve the discipline all together on their campus.

Because of these issues, I think it is important to remember that Metals programs and University art departments do not choose to deny these business skills to their graduates. They simply do not have funding. There is no amount of discussion that can really change the funding at our universities. That money must come from tax payers and tuition. If you don't want higher tuition or taxes, then we are all at an impasse.

Our universities have not "let us down" or "failed us." They simply reflect a sub-par level of perceived importance that the culture of the United States places upon Art, Music, Theater, Dance.... If the funding is not in place, we have not set ourselves up for success.

The very best thing you can do to affect change in university programs is to vote for candidates that support greater funding for education and encourage all those that you know to do so. Find out who your local university's Faculty Association supports and put those people in office!

Music is very different from Metal, especially in Southern California where the Roses and I are located. The industry is in place in this region for many entertainment-based careers for students with music education related to recording, mixing, producing, and various commercial muzak talents. I can understand why schools put more funding into these programs if there is greater demand for the graduates.

Finally, I would caution that even within Music programs, funding varies greatly. Traditional programs that emphasize Concert, Symphony, and instrument recital-based music learning are suffering just as much as craft programs. Sadly, the funding often goes to programs that prep students for Industry's needs, not the needs of culture, self-expression, intellectual discovery, and spiritual growth. That would be the industry of the human soul!
Thank you for writing about the other side of the story. That adds greatly to the insight!
Michael, we think you have fairly well defined exactly how and why Universities have failed us when you wrote:" They simply reflect a sub-par level of perceived importance that the culture of the United States places upon Art, Music, Theater, Dance..." At one time, instilling an appreciation of culture and the arts was a fundamental part of a liberal arts education at all Universities. Universities have failed the arts in their responsibility to educate generations of Americans in any kind of appreciation and understanding of the arts. Universities have failed the arts by turning out generations of graduates who don't have the business skills to know how to capitalize on the technical abilities they have acquired.

Nothing points this out more clearly than the comment made by Kate Jones in this discussion. "the number one thing parents (who usually pay the tuition) ask about college fine arts programs is 'what will my son/daughter do when they graduate?"

Your solution of higher taxes and tuition simply does not hold water. Throwing more money at a failed system is will not fix it it. Its bad business. Make arts curriculum a viable career path that gives graduates a running chance at making a living at it and watch things turn around. That's precisely what the music programs are doing, across the nation, across all genres of music. This is, by far, not localized to Southern California.

In the metal arts, the Revere Academy turns out eminently employable graduates and does just fine without public tax support. We understand that not all programs are designed to focus on bench jewelry skills, nor should they. But then, there are lots and lots of Revere Academy graduates who swim very well in the "art" end of the pool too.

I agree wholeheartedly with you when you state that "funding often goes to programs that prep students for Industry's needs, not the needs of culture, self-expression, intellectual discovery, and spiritual growth". The real point is that these are not mutually exclusive concepts. To the demise of many University arts programs - they are treated as such.
At one time, "instilling an appreciation of culture and the was [also] a fundamental part of..." being a nurturing parent who exposed their children to art, music, cinema, etc.

Just like so many subjects, parents are asking Universities to turn poorly prepared students into stars. A great architectural achievement requires a solid foundation. When I get students in a metals class that have no idea what a drill is for or what a Jacobs chuck is or can't measure out a piece of material to 1.125" because there are no decimals on a ruler and they can't convert to fractional measurements.... well, you can see how one might have to spend some class time on more remedial subjects than how to market finished products.

A University is not "responsible" for educating students. A student is responsible for their education. Too often people treat post-secondary education like a shopping experience. The customer is not always right, because they are students, not customers. It is our job to take a student and make them better, to the best of our abilities, within a 2-3 year window. We are a pit-stop on the road of life. It is the students responsibility to understand that life itself is an educational experience and the only way to learn exactly what you think you need to know is to go out there and put yourself in places that will teach you those things.

The best educational opportunities for understanding the business end of the field is through interning, being a production artist's assist, working a bench job, etc. You know, working your way up, baby steps, learning from those that already learned the hard way, insert other cliche phrase here.

Please just use caution in making blanket statements about the "failures" of Universities.

Realistically, and I am being very frank here, the problem with "generations of graduates who don't have the business skills to know how to...." and Kate Jones' posed parental inquiry, is that many students in Art programs really should not be there. If there is a failure in the University system, it is that many students breeze through programs without ever being told that they don't really have talent. If you are artsy, and you complete the work, you get a degree.

If you are not also clever, ambitious, determined, and truly creative, you will never be able to justify that degree. Any artist practice is essentially a small business. If you don't have the gusto, it is not gonna happen no matter how much education you get!

Also realize just how many differences there are between Revere Academy and any public institution. Revere can do and teach anything they like. One could just as easily raise a commotion about how little a graduate of Revere learns about Literature, History, or Biology. You are comparing apples to oranges here.

Even the comparison to music in the first place is rather broad. "What does music know that metal don't?" Well first and foremost, they know how to take a single creative act (singing a song), capture it, replicate it, and then market millions of copies around the world. It is going to take a long time before rapid prototyping gets us to that level in metals!

Regarding money. I am not suggesting that more money is the solution alone. But seriously, art, music, and drama programs have been suffering from cutbacks for decades. You just can't keep taking away and then expect more. If every year a program gets less money, how can it stay current?. You can't tell me that the cost of a course at Revere is the same as 10 years ago. Prices go up. What if you told Revere that it had to survive with tuition income cut 30%? I bet some programs would be cut, some new equipment would remain on the wish list, some instructors may not be returning. This is the same problem as when a state government cuts funding to a public university.
I graduated from a program about 18 yrs ago, and wanting to market your work at wholesale/retail shows was kind of looked down upon. The program trained us to think like fine artists, but taught us nothing about what to do when we got out. I think that academically trained craftspeople wanted so badly to have their work respected on a fine-arts level, that there was a very narrow perspective on what was valid . I don't regret my schooling at all, I love my alma mater, but I learned just as much about what I do from internships, jobs, and imersing myself in a variety of experiences than I did at school.

I feel that the field has a more open-minded perspective on the possibilities available to graduates these days, and is starting to train their graduates accordingly. I also think that like any other field (liberal arts, business, etc), students have to be savvy enough to find and exploit these opportunities on their own, as well as press various administrators for them. I teach fine arts at a high school and the number one thing parents (who usually pay the tuition) ask about college fine arts programs is 'what will my son/daughter do when they graduate?' The schools that can advertise themselves as having marketable graduates, the more desirable their school will be to prospective students. In this economy, it is just a matter of time before this happens.


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