5 Questions Every Arts School Should Ask (and Answer)

Below are five essential questions every arts school should be asking. And answering. 

1.  How is our school training excellent musicians (and what exactly does that mean)?

  • Technical/artistic ability?
  • Analytical skills?
  • Historical perspective?
  • Ensemble contributors?
  • Other artistic areas of emphasis?
  • Multiple artistic skill sets?
  • Holistic artists?

 2.  How is our school developing artists with the potential to succeed professionally?

  • Ability to develop vibrant careers (fulfilling, recession-proof, plan B’s, any circumstances)?
  • Aware of full array, potential work options?
  • Understanding of market circumstances and trends (threats and opportunities, audience expectations, technology)?
  • Entrepreneurial mindset?
  • Opportunity creators?
  • Chance takers?
  • Multiple skill sets (musical and nonmusical)
  • Product development (differentiated)?
  • Marketing (branding, PR, internet/social media, buzz, permission, interviewing)?
  • Communication skills?
  • Networking skills?
  • Collaborative skills?
  • Financial literacy (earn income, personal finance, basic accounting, fundraising)?
  • Versatility and flexibility?
  • Transferable skills?
  • Wellness?
  • Emotional intelligence?
  • Lifelong passion?

 3. How is our school directly cultivating new arts audiences?

  • Performances heavily attended by variety of demographics?
  • Student, faculty, and school-based initiatives?
  • Engage non-music aspects of university?
  • Add imperative voice to life of city/region?
  • Work with local arts organizations?
  • Research projects that help solve challenges of local artists/arts organizations?
  • Community engagement programs (local businesses, organizations, underserved)?
  • Educational initiatives (k-12, family, adult, senior citizen, interest groups)?
  • Community leader awareness?
  • Advocacy?
  • Relevant, engaging, interactive performances?
  • Opportunities for non-musicians to create art (rather than just witness)?

 4. How is our school contributing positively to the community and world?

  • Emphasize need for artist-citizens?
  • Cultivate social awareness?
  • Solve real problems?
  • Fill gaps?
  • Make world a better place in some way?
  • Outward artists (care about audience and world, not just me, me, me)?
  • Leave legacies?

 5.  How is our school’s culture, curriculum, student body, and faculty different from other music programs?

  • Regional/national/international leader?
  • Curricular/skills/ideological bias?
  • Unusual majors/requirements/ensembles/faculty specialties/electives/resources?
  • Unique skills/values that our students possess (i.e. what makes our graduates different than those from other schools)?
  • Compare mission statement with other institutions
  • Can include “excellence” and “location” in explanation, but not exclusively
  • Differentiation, when addressing real needs and marketed effectively, is a powerful recruiting and PR tool
  • Substantiate all claims
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