While I don’t like the reality of the condition of the 21st century “working” artist, the realities that face those who currently are studying any form of art must begin to sink in to those who are teaching you. There is such a huge opportunity to transform arts education into something creative and entrepreneurial so that we can use our passions to emerge in new innovative ways and better ourselves and society.
Last week, in Denver Colorado, performers, students and educators, from around the world, showed up for the NPAC‘s ( The National Performing Arts Conference).
Colin Holter, from New Music Box, an online web magazine from the American Music Center‘s, wrote about the conference and specifically about a session he attended titled “Higher Education and the Real World of Practice”.
Given by recognized experts who are focused on training university, and especially conservatory graduates, who have built some business acumen, administrative skills, and other “peripheral” skills besides playing technique, theory, and music history, statistics emerged from this session that 85 percent of music majors end up working “in the field,” although fewer than five percent are full-time professional performers.
In Colin’s blog post titled: Can You Balance a Checkbook? he says “These are some pretty telling figures: Most music students will be doing something in musicâ€”teaching, administration, and so forthâ€”but not what they went to college to do.”
If these percentages are reflective of all segments in the arts- which I personally believe they are- then why exactly are we pursuing degrees that do not teach us skills to survive and thrive using the art forms we are being so highly trained to do? Can any one of us afford to spend $100,000, and many of us graduating with debt we may have for more than half our life time to not build valuable skills to thrive inside our field of study?
Collin goes on in his post with this- which I could not have said better myself: “Practicing eight hours a day is a great way to become a virtuoso, but it’s also a great way to develop an eating disorder, and apparently it makes you only incrementally more likely to sustain a career as a full-time soloist or orchestral player than someone who only put in four hours per day. Conservatory training continues to carry a great deal of prestige among musicians; however, if most conservatory graduates (like most other music graduates) aren’t putting food on the table by playing three hundred nights a year, maybe their curricula should be reevaluated accordingly.”
Halelluija! Praise the Lord. Amen.
Entrepreneurship and Art training IS the answer. You love what you do enough to sacrifice for it, do it for free, on weekends, evenings and for little or no pay- that is a sign of love. Now let’s get our schools of higher education to understand that your paying them to help you cultivate your love into income. Those institutions certainly are profiting from the love you bring to your art form- It is TIME for arts education to accept the need for universal reform and ‘roll with the times’ and change.