From Arts Alliance: EMU celebrates 40 years of arts management education


A lot has happened in 40 years. On June 8, more than 40 alumni of the Arts Management & Administration programs at Eastern Michigan University came together to kick off its 40th anniversary year at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.

Innovation has always been at the center of EMU’s Arts Management & Administration programs. In 1978, the university was one of the very first Institutions of higher education to create a major in arts management. Prior to 1965, the year the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established by Congress, only four states operated arts funding agencies.

By 1980, with the NEA as a catalyst, there were more than 3,000 local arts councils, a quarter that were organized as units of local government, and three quarters that were formed as nonprofit organizations.

This development would significantly create a powerful need for a skilled workforce to manage these new arts organizations. EMU professor Ken Stevens established the arts management major in the department of communications and theater arts in 1978 and led it led it until his retirement in 2014 – 36 years! Professor Susan Badger Booth is now at the helm.

The major was designed for students who already have considerable interest in the arts. It builds on that experience and adds a component that is focused on the business of the arts in all disciplines, including governance, management, promotion, finance, fundraising and relationship to the community. Studies include coursework in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business to equip students with research, analytical, creative problem solving, managerial and aesthetic skills.

The program added a Masters of Arts in Arts Administration in 1984. The master’s degree offers courses in production, distribution and management of arts and cultural programming to candidates who had studied arts as an undergraduate student.

Students from the undergraduate and graduate programs have gone on to become:
* Arts administrators
* Arts advocates
* Community organizers
* Creative entrepreneurs
* Event planners
* Marketing managers
* Development officers

In addition to more the traditional areas of performing or visual arts, newer fields have emerged for EMU arts administration grads such as:
* Arts and healthcare
* Arts and higher education
* Arts and recreation
* Arts and entrepreneurship

In the last 40 years, the impact that EMU has had on the arts and cultural sector moves well beyond Southeastern Michigan. EMU’s Arts Management and Administration alumni work in all areas of arts and culture throughout our state, the Midwest, across the U. S. and internationally in countries such as Chile, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines.

MAIN PHOTO: Celebrating 40 Years of Arts Management: program director Susan Badger Booth, program founder Ken Stevens, EMU president Jim Smith, Connie Ruhl Smith and College of Arts & Sciences interim dean Kathy Stacey.

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