LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:
The JT and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts (TCVPA) at Texas Technological University will offer diploma and undergraduate artistic entrepreneurship certificates this spring.
The certificate consists of three courses: foundation in artistic entrepreneurship, artistic entrepreneur marketing formula and a choice of elective courses. Texas Tech students can apply this certificate to their minors, and creative professionals are also encouraged to apply for the program.
âLearning entrepreneurial skills as an artist is of crucial importance,â said Kim walker, music teacher at Texas Tech’s Music school. âA lot of artists go to college but never learn how to make a living as an artist. This program is designed to help students and professionals not only produce art, but also sell it and feel confident.
The program aims to prevent artists from depending on agents and managers to build their careers. Rather, the certificate will put tools, strategies and business acumen in the hands of those who are willing to use their talent to change the world around them. Classes focus specifically on topics such as developing a brand message; creation of videos; online courses and websites; attract customers; build teams; and more.
âLast spring I taught the core course on a trial basis, and students from all walks of life signed up,â Walker said. âI had theater and music students, of course, but I also worked with business students, designers and lawyers. We even had someone from Environmental Science launch a custom cowboy hat store.
Since Walker’s arrival at Texas Tech in 2018, she has taken the initiative to launch this program. His passion for this project comes from his own life experiences.
âI started a career as a bassoon soloist at the age of 17,â Walker said. âBassoonists weren’t as sought after as violinists or pianists. So instead of waiting for the bassoon concerto that would come once a decade, I went out and found festivals that I could jump into – I didn’t just sit around waiting for someone to call.
Walker became the first woman to play the solo bassoon with the London Symphony Orchestra, a role that required more tenacity because at that time, the symphony hall did not even have a backstage ladies’ toilet. From that point on, she created five successful businesses, such as Virtuoso CEO and others like it.
It is these experiences and the lessons she has learned, good and bad, that motivate her passion for teaching.
In 2020, Walker focused on the Arts Entrepreneurship program. She was writing curriculum when COVID-19 hit.
âI remember thinking, ‘Well the students are really going to need it now,’ Walker said.
Due to COVID-19 and the unprecedented challenges it has created for artists, this program couldn’t be better.
âWhen we went into lockdown, the performers were faced with what seemed like an impossible task,â Walker said. âSuddenly they needed production and media skills. They needed to understand how to create artistic experiences in front of the camera which is so different from live performance. ”
The students in his spring semester class not only took on this challenge, but also came up with some of the most innovative ideas Walker has ever seen.
One of those students was Jamison Driskill, a graduate student who earned his Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration at Texas Tech’s Theater and dance school. Driskill devised a business plan to establish a nightlife, cabaret-inspired venue in downtown Lubbock.
âSomething we discussed in the course was identifying the community’s needs and current gaps,â Driskill said. “It’s one thing to have a good idea, but if there are already a dozen other people doing that, you need to think more about it.”
Driskill already has a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) but took the foundation course in hopes of learning something new – and he did.
âIt was a different experience than any other experience in an MBA program,â said Driskill. âThe course was artist-oriented and responded to our natural aptitude for entrepreneurship. If you think about it, artists make great entrepreneurs because we’re already trained to disrupt the natural way of doing things. This is what we do every day.
Another student in Walker’s class, Rafael Powell, is a graduate student and saxophone player who is earning his doctorate in musical arts.
âI always felt my life was divided into these diametrically separate pieces,â Powell said. âClassical music was on one side and my jazz concerts on the other. I wanted to combine these ideas.
Powell created a business plan for a two-week retreat where musicians of all genres would come together and learn from each other. The goal would be to send each musician home with their first single, or a track to launch their career.
Entrepreneurs and advocates for the arts throughout the West Texas community predict that this program will have a positive impact on the region and beyond.
Gerald Dolter, founder of Lubbock’s Musicals in the moonlight and the director of Texas Tech’s Opera theater, recognizes the potential of this certificate to create new opportunities for students. Dolter is no stranger to the world of artistic entrepreneurship. He started Moonlight Musicals 15 years ago after his personal interest and a real need in the community collided.
âI wanted to create an opera theater that would serve the great area of ââWest Texas,â Dolter said. âWhat I found, however, was that people really wanted musical theater. So I considered setting up a theater company in Lubbock. At first it was just a way for Texas Tech students to get some performance experience over the summer, but it grew really quickly from there.
These are just a few examples of how artistic entrepreneurship is taking shape across Texas Tech and the South Plains.
Another attraction of the program was the guest speakers.
Last semester, Naomi Grabel executive director of the development strategy and growth of the Metropolitan Opera, spoke to students about his career in arts administration, which includes roles in organizations such as Carnegie Hall, Disney Theater Group and the Yale School of Drama.
âIf you are an artist, you are an entrepreneur,â Walker said. “How else do you think people manage to produce concerts for $ 10 a ticket?” The challenge I see is that so many artists just want to give. It’s great, but they won’t be able to do what they do for long because they can’t make a living that way.
In business school, students learn to sell a product and create an economic exchange that benefits everyone. Making this training accessible to student artists is essential for Walker and TCVPA.
âThis program trains students not only to start their business, but to become accustomed to business terminology and to be more confident when asked about their fees,â Walker said. âWe don’t want graduates to look like deer in the headlights when the topic of finance is brought up. We want them to be prepared and know what to expect when they enter meetings.
To do this, TCVPA has partnered with Texas Tech Innovation hub at the research park to bring this certificate to life.
The Innovation Hub was a natural partner for the program as it exists to support entrepreneurs in the West Texas area who, in turn, give back to the community through mentorship and business impact.
Other program collaborators include Hideki Isoda, director of media production at the School of Music, and Kimberly Gramm, Associate Vice-President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Innovation Pole.
Looking ahead, Walker imagines what his students will dream of – and what impact those dreams will have on the world.
âThe entrepreneurs and students I’ve worked with really want to help people,â Walker said. âIt’s so inspiring. They want to give back and help solve the problems they see in the world – and they want to do it through art.
(Texas Tech University press release)