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Career Skills and Entrepreneurship Training for Artists

Results of the 2015 SNAAP Survey Module

November 22, 201722 November 2017

Situation of artists / Dance / Multidisciplinary arts

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This report, based on responses from 26,200 alumni of arts programs in 43 American institutions, provides “insights into the current state of career skills and entrepreneurship education in arts schools”. The author argues that “building strong business and entrepreneurial skills will prepare [arts] students for a career in a job market that increasingly rewards entrepreneurship”.

Overall, 80% of “respondents reported that at some point in their career they had been self-employed, had been hired as an independent contractor, or had worked on a freelance basis”.

The report highlights findings of “an entrepreneurial skills gap wherein 71% of arts alumni indicated entrepreneurial skills were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat important’ to their profession or work life but only 26% of alumni reported their institution helped them develop entrepreneurial skills ‘some’ or ‘very much’.” However, there does appear to be an increase over time in the proportion of arts programs emphasizing entrepreneurial skills such as “generating new ideas or brainstorming”, “taking risks in coursework without fear of penalty”, “evaluating multiple approaches to a problem”, and “inventing new methods to arrive at unconventional solutions”.

Reflecting back, over 80% of alumni indicated that, upon graduation, they were confident in their ability to “be resilient”, “adapt”, and “recognize opportunities to advance [their] ideas or career”. However, only 53% agreed that they were confident in their ability to “financially manage [their] career”.

Other educational gaps include “more knowledge of career-related skills”, such as marketing and promoting their work and talents, developing three- to five-year strategic plans to realize their goals, managing finances, monitoring legal and tax issues, and communicating through and about their art. Similarly, “many alumni reported they were not exposed to a broad view of careers in and outside the arts”. On the other hand, most respondents “were exposed to a broad network of artists, leaders, and scholars in their field”.

The full report explores the findings in much greater depth, with breakdowns by gender, racial / ethnic group, type of school, and area of major within the arts.

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