The Business of the Arts

Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship minor prepares students for the creative economy

Emily Jackson is a summer 2020 intern in the programming department at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Due to COVID-19, Jackson worked with her supervisor to shift her internship to a project-based, online format in which she is researching how arts leaders and organizations across the country have pivoted plans during the pandemic.

The myth of the starving artist doesn’t hold true in today’s day and age, especially with programs like TCU’s minor in Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship (ARLE).

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, the arts industry contributes $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy and employs about 4.9 million workers with earnings of more than $370 billion. That momentum is in part thanks to the hardworking administrators and managers behind the scenes, and TCU’s ARLE minor is designed to prepare future leaders in the arts with the tangible skills for success in the creative economy.

Launched in fall 2019, the ARLE curriculum focuses on the essentials of running nonprofits and public arts organizations—from organizational development, community engagement, marketing and public relations to financial management, fundraising, staff and volunteer management and more. Many current students, recent graduates and professionals working in the arts administration field agree that TCU’s ARLE minor provides invaluable training for a number of career paths.

“I decided to add the minor in ARLE because it opens more doors to me than just majoring in vocal performance,” said Emily Jackson, a rising junior. “I know that it is difficult to sustain a stable job as a performer, particularly as an opera singer, so having the experience…in arts leadership roles allows me to stay connected to the opera and arts world on the administrative side.”

“Without the ARLE minor, I don’t believe that I would have gotten the opportunities to intern at TBT, nor would I have succeeded in those internships in the ways that I did. The ARLE minor has given me the space to believe in myself and my skills in ways that are often hard when pursing a performance degree.” -Paige Kutschall

Paige Kutschall, a rising senior who is majoring in modern dance, has held two internships with Texas Ballet Theater (TBT) while at TCU. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in arts administration and hopes to manage educational programs for a professional dance company like TBT.

“My ARLE classes gave me the skills and knowledge to step into my internships with confidence,” said Kutschall. “It was so helpful to be able to take what I was learning in class and directly translate the information into my work at TBT. There were plenty of times when I offered suggestions based on material learned in class that…provided a new lens to [how] we were doing things at TBT.”

Alejandra Lopez ’20 graduated in May with a BFA in studio art and a minor in ARLE. As a senior, she held a for-class-credit internship in the education department at the Kimbell Art Museum. Lopez said that ARLE courses prepared her for her internship responsibilities by providing a look at how different areas of an organization support a central mission.

“When talking about an arts organization, the focus tends to be on the arts they provide, but ARLE helps students take a step back and consider ‘how does all of this happen?’,” said Lopez. “The fulfillment of the mission and success of the organization never depends on just one person. It really takes a village. I feel that ARLE helps students to view their [major] discipline in a bigger context.”

Lopez said she is considering pursuing a graduate degree in museum studies, a lifelong interest reinforced by her time in TCU’s ARLE minor program.

“My experiences in the ARLE minor grew my passion for community engagement through the arts, and I’d love to spend my career developing constructive relationships between arts organizations and the communities they serve.” -Rose Kotopka

Rose Kotopka ’20, who also graduated in May, earned a BFA in ballet. She said minoring in ARLE prepared her with the necessary leadership skills to lead planning of the annual AIDS Outreach Center benefit dance concert this past spring.

“So much goes on behind the scenes in dance productions, and this minor showed me the business side of dance companies,” said Kotopka. “Financial Management and Fundraising in the Arts was my favorite ARLE course. The teachers gave an intro to [the topics] with practical skills and resources, along with real-life examples. They made these subjects no longer intimidating to me.”

Alumna Marti Yoder ’19, who earned a BA in music, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in arts administration at Indiana University. At TCU, Yoder minored in arts administration before the curriculum was overhauled by Candace Tangorra Matelic, Ph.D., into the current ARLE program. Yoder visited campus last fall and said the new curriculum is “phenomenal.”

“A minor like ARLE is very beneficial,” said Yoder. “I fully believe that we need good, trained administrators who can support both the arts and the community that they serve.”

Wesley Gentle ’15, who has worked in arts fundraising for five years and is now the director of advancement for the Arts Council of Fort Worth, agrees.

“Those I most admire in this industry have a personal history with the arts that is balanced by their business acumen,” said Gentle. “Programs like TCU’s ARLE minor set students on the path to achieving that crucial balance.”

The ARLE minor is open to all majors in the College of Fine Arts. The curriculum includes a prerequisite intro course, four core courses and an optional capstone course and internship. Learn more about Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship minor.