WMU News

WMU to offer new arts administration program

Dec. 9, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- A new master's degree program at Western Michigan University will fill a void in arts administration training by becoming the first program of its kind in the Midwest.

The program, approved Dec. 7 by the WMU Board of Trustees, will lead to a master of fine arts in performing arts administration and is designed to prepare graduate students to function effectively as arts administrators. Offered with the help of significant encouragement and financial support from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the program will provide new graduates of the program with the appropriate academic credentials and skills they need to compete for arts administration positions.

Graduates will be prepared to work in dance, music or theatre in areas of planning, budgeting, volunteerism, public relations, leadership, fund raising and evaluation. Students will be placed with local arts organizations for their practicum experience and will gain field experience by serving an extended internship with a national arts organization in the student's discipline of choice.

Program proponents say there is a growing demand for qualified arts administrators. A recent national survey of more than 600 professionally managed performing arts organizations concluded that formal training in arts administration is preferred by 50 percent of the respondents and that 75 percent preferred formal training for their marketing and development directors. Since there is no master of fine arts in performing arts administration offered in Michigan or the Midwest, the proposed curriculum has the potential to attract students from a broad geographic area.

"Both the University and the community are anxiously awaiting the debut of this professional program," says Dr. Margaret Merrion, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Plans call for the program to be up and running by fall 2002 with about 15 students enrolled in it at any given time after its third year of operation. Students with undergraduate majors in dance, music and theatre would be the primary candidates for the degree, but students with other appropriate backgrounds also will be considered.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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