Behrend embraces the arts

After four years of working for an Arts Administration major, Penn State Behrend finally got it approved in June 2012. This major is unique to Behrend and combines two types of classes: business and arts. Penn State Behrend is one of just 15 schools in the country to have it.

Essentially, the major combines the theatrical with the practical. Sharon Dale, an associate professor of art history, played an instrumental part in getting the major available to students. She said the major offers an ideal opportunity for art lovers.

“[It’s] for people who want to follow [their] passion, yet be able to eat,” Dale said. It’s a major for all those students who want to do something in the arts but realize arts themselves are not reliable. Dale said she believes the business side of art has more job opportunities.

Currently, only one student is majoring in Arts Administration, but four students are in the Introduction to Arts Administration class.

“Majoring in this seems to be more realistic than flying off to Hollywood to catch a big break,” said Vee Butler, one of the students in the intro class who is confident she will major in Arts Administration. Though she is more interested in the art side of this major, her hope is to become a theatre manager some day.

The Arts Administration program doesn’t just skim over business and art; there is a strong focus on both. While students are learning about the arts, music, theatre and visual arts, they also single out what they are most interested in. The classes and requirements for the degree are highly focused on getting the students involved with their future careers before they graduate.

In the ARTSA 301 class, for example, a new speaker from an arts organization joins the class once a week. “I love the fact that we are able to speak with professionals in the field and ask questions about their work,” said junior Franchesca Fee, the first student to major in Arts Administration.

For class credit, Arts Administration majors have to intern with a company of their choice, such as the Erie Play House, Erie Art Museum, etc. The reason for this is to get the students matched up with actual people and doing the things they hope to do when they graduate.

There is also the business side of things. This major offers intensive training in management, marketing, writing and development. The major requires so many marketing classes that it is just two classes short of a minor in marketing.

Dale said the major might expand by including digital media because there is specific growth in that field.