CMII activity in arts education is animated by several big questions:
- Is it possible to better connect arts- and media-interested students more fully with advanced production technology and in ways that supplement their foundational craft training in disciplines such as film, graphic design or music performance?
- Can traditional studio and conservatory models for arts education be scaled up to serve growing student demand in ways that preserve the integrity of the master class model that has provided individual instruction for so many generations?
- What strategies can provide better support for diverse student populations who aspire to find their creative voices and achieve career success, and in ways that do not compromise their unique perspectives?
- How might students be prepared to compete in the project and gig economy of 21st century arts-making? How might entrepreneurial pathways be supported, without getting in the way of core artistic preparation?
These issues are animated by the intense transformation of the arts. New technologies open new but disruptive possibilities for creativity. Social media platforms have democratized the arts, enabling talented individuals to invent their own online brands, free of centralized systems of distribution and production. But those same technologies have made it harder for artists to make a living in the arts, as a culture that expects free sharing and access to everything still resists subscription and royalty models of compensation. Arts markets are often “winner take all” – why, one might ask, should I watch a community orchestra perform a Beethoven symphony, glitches and amateur mistakes included, when an inexpensive online subscription can take me into world-class digital performances captured in the world’s leading symphony or opera halls? A result is that full-time paid employment opportunities in some key creative industries has shrunk, while overall the percentage of Americans employed in the arts has stayed stable at around 1.4%. The situation requires careful research because it can be difficult to track employment changes, especially when today’s artists are increasingly likely to work freelance, as opposed to being paid full-time in an agency.
More now than in generations, artists will be joining precarious professions, dominated by gig work, less likely than before to guarantee important stable benefits such as health insurance and access to retirement. Some evidence shows self-employed artists prefer the independence that gig work provides, while others critique the precarious economy as a slow strategy designed to strangle and wholly privatize arts-making.
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CMII has partnered with the College of the Arts to address some of these issues. The Institute is developing research-based models for media and arts entrepreneurship, building on the best practices of design thinking as a methodology for creative ideation and exploring mechanisms for audience curation (when the more normal entrepreneurial mindset in other sectors focuses more on audience discovery). CMII is implementing curricula organized by Elizabeth Strickler, who heads CMII entrepreneurial practice. This collaboration also connects CMII arts and media students with the entrepreneurship programs being built in the Robinson College of Business, so students learn the basics of entrepreneurial planning (such as business plan and pitch development) and skills essential in the arts arena.
Stanley Romanstein, a CMII professor of practice and former president of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is collaborating with key national arts education societies to explore the implications of new technology for music education. Romanstein is exploring best practices for music technology training. He has organized a regional summit of music educators to begin a Georgia collaboration focused on this topic.
One step underway in CMII to address the issue of arts education scalability is addressed in a project orchestrated by Herb Kossover, a CMII professor of practice with a lifetime’s experience in advanced film production technique. Kossover is organizing online streamable content that introduces career relevant content to students just starting to explore options. The goal is to produce content that is professionally produced, able to attract high-level arts industry talent participation and supplemental to the individual mentorship students undertake as they enter intensive fine arts degree programs.
If you have an interest in these issues, either from the perspective of educational research or industry collaboration, we invite you to connect with CMII faculty. A working group will start in the 2017-18 academic year to gauge the wider interests in these topics among Georgia State faculty.