What will I do after graduation? It’s a big question faced by every student. It’s a particularly pressing question for art students, who after completing their studies often don't have well-defined career paths available to them. Tim Smith, President of the Medici Circle, a group that has long supported School of Art students and programs, recognized the problem and decided to do something about it.
Knowing that BGSU has a strong program in Entrepreneurship, he imagined that an entrepreneurship course could be created specifically for art students. Tim approached Kirk Kern and Gene Poor, faculty members in the College of Business’ Entrepreneurship program with his plan. They were receptive but explained to Tim that getting a new course up and running would cost a substantial amount of money. Tim then shared the idea for the new course with a fellow Medici Board member. She liked it so much that she invited her parents to join her in funding the venture. Together, their generous underwriting allowed the School of Art and the College of Business to collaboratively create Art and Entrepreneurship.
Filled on the first day of registration, Professor Poor and Professor Kern taught the inaugural section of Art and Entrepreneurship in the spring semester of 2015. They introduced thirty students to the planning, execution and maintenance of arts and arts-related ventures. Beginning with the premise that art students possess unique and marketable skills, the course helped students recognize and pursue opportunities in the burgeoning creative economy. Encouraged to see themselves as “entrepreneurial artist-citizens,” students were shown step-by-step approaches to starting business ventures that produce and sell products, or provide creative services.
Students loved the class. According to Jessica Whitt, a senior BFA Two-Dimensional Studies major, “Professor Kern and Professor Poor teach you the ways you can be successful with the talents you have.” Chloe Cinibulk, a senior BFA Three-Dimensional Studies major enthused, “Arts/Entrepreneurship was by far one of the best, most helpful, and insightful classes I have taken here at BGSU.” Added senior Daniel Krentz, “It should be required for all School of Art students!” Student demand for Art and Entrepreneurship is so high that the School of Art and the College of Business plan to offer a section of the course again in the spring semester of 2016. The College of Business is considering creation of a similar course for students from the College of Musical Arts.
The success of Art and Entrepreneurship demonstrates that it should have a permanent place in part of the School of Art’s curriculum. However, continuing to teach the course and expanding its availability will require additional funding. Improving student professional development is an urgent mission for the School. If we hope to prepare students to participate in an increasingly fluid and entrepreneurial society, we must continue to give them the tools to imaginatively re-direct and re-imagine their singular talents.