Only on the Hilltop
Meadows’ dean teaches first years
Published: Friday, September 7, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
First-year Meadows students from a variety of disciplines are taking a course that is preparing them for today’s market as artists. Titled the “First-Year Arts Community Experience (FACE),” students are learning what it means to be a successful artist.
Students can all agree they are given the same orientation survival tools about learning how to navigate through college, what classes to take and how to live well with others, but what about how to be successful after college?
“I know you just got here but you have only four years to plan for that career. Start planning your exit strategy, you might want to take one course on branding,” José Bowen, dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, said.
With over 30 years of experience from jazz performance to his travels across the globe Dean José Bowen takes the role as lead instructor.
The mandatory FACE class is not focused on hours and hours of practice but rather preparing the future artists for the real world. The students are learning how to be their own manager, public relations officer, CEO and how to market themselves to get hired.
“You have to stand out because it is a tough business. Most arts schools don’t talk about jobs they talk about the craft. You are here to learn and be good at your craft but also be good at promoting yourself. You need to have both,” Bowen said.
Dean Bowen also introduces a new learning style into the classroom. After recently publishing his new book titled Teaching Naked.
The inverted style engages the students through discussions. These interactions, between professors and students, make students critical thinkers.
Assistant professor Rita Men has taken the new style into her classroom as well. The teaching style uses technology in a strategic way, outside of the classroom. When students arrive to class they are expected to participate in conversations with each other about what they have learned.
“In my Global Communication class, I asked students to lead a discussion seminar each week. One of the requirements is that they need to be creative in the format,” Rita Men, assistant professor of communication Studies, said.
“The students use technology to prepare their discussion materials outside of the classroom.
And when they come to class, it is only face-to-face interactions and discussions. I will be sitting among the students guiding and participating in their discussions.”
The FACE class features guest-speakers that have real-world experience that provide insight into how to be a successful artist. Students are learning how to sell themselves through a variety of exercises.
Creating elevator pitches, their own websites and being provided with resources they can use outside of the classroom are just a few helping make the new line of artists marketable.
“We want to be the only art school in the country with a hundred percent employment [rate],” Bowen said.
“We want to be distinguished where our arts students get jobs. The artist is the product but you are also the sales manager.”
Artists today must not only be masters of their art but be able to articulate how their art will be making a difference.
This is what makes art relevant and creates effective artists that can make a living.
SMU is one of the only schools in the nation that offers an arts entrepreneurship and arts management minors preparing artists for the job market.
These minors give students the opportunity to learn the financial and management side of the arts and nonprofit work. The minors can help supplement artists who intend to work for themselves and for galleries.