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Matt Dreier

Art as Business as Art

by Matt Dreier Wednesday, October 9, 2013

“The Arts Must Survive as a Business to Thrive as Art.” 

As I was sitting in the Bolz Center and searching for a great quote to start this blog post, I suddenly realized that the best quote was hanging on the wall in front of me. After all, one of the main reasons I applied to the Bolz Center is the focus on combining an arts perspective with business knowledge to produce thought leaders in arts administration. This means that we "Bolzies" are required to complete the core business classes with our fellow Wisconsin MBA colleagues, including Financial Management, Financial Accounting, and Marketing Management.

However, this focus on business knowledge acquisition goes well beyond the classroom. One of the unique aspects of the program is the immediate implementation of the knowledge that we have acquired in the classroom into a real-world experience. Bolz Center students are awarded project assistantships (PAs) with campus or local arts organizations, and the PAs allow us to combine our classroom work with valuable practical experience. The organizations that are hosting Bolz Center students this year include Overture Center for the Arts, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Union, Wisconsin Union Theater, UW Foundation, Wisconsin Science Festival, and the Madison Opera.

My project assistantship this year is to assist with the UW-Madison class called Arts Enterprise: Art as Business as Art, which is designed to help develop and empower students in creative disciplines by providing them with business acumen. Our class this fall includes undergraduates, graduate students, and community members, and it utilizes a wide variety of speakers to touch on topics of immediate concern to artist and business people alike. This project assistantship is a perfect fit for me, allowing me to learn every day about classroom structure, lecturing, and how to help pass knowledge on to the next generation of artists and creative business leaders. The Arts Enterprise class is part of a larger movement on campus known as the Arts Business Initiative.

And why this ongoing and ever-present discussion of the intersection of arts and business? 

Well, we’re all familiar with those arts organizations that could benefit from some better business sense, as well as those talented artists who have been unable to find solid ground due to a lack of knowledge about the foundation of a successful business. And we have all seen businesses fail by not utilizing the artistic talents of their employees. By focusing on creating effective business acumen for artists, we can make sure that artists are prepared to market themselves effectively and continue to thrive and produce their passions. As well, businesses can and do benefit from the diversity of perspectives provided by artists and creative employees. 

The Bolz Center is at the forefront for discovering new ways to maximize the intersection of business and arts, and I’m so excited to be a part of it!