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?
- 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?
- 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