When studying and training to be any kind of artist – from dancer to writer to sculptor – every student hears some version of this advice: “If there is anything else you can do to be happy, anything at all… do that instead.” Making a living as an artist is hard; in addition to talent, perseverance and a staggering capacity for rejection, much of the time artists also have to be their own business.
In the College of Fine Arts (CFA) at The University of New Mexico, multiple degree paths feature professional development for artists, in order to empower students with the tools they will need to succeed.
Most recently, the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts (BAIA) launched in the fall semester of 2017. Contemporary artists often embrace multiple disciplines, expanding their skill set and thereby creating multiple paths to prosperity. There’s a clear need for it, with 56 BAIA majors currently declared.
“We thought we’d get maybe 40 our first year, and we blew right past it,” says CFA Dean Kymberly Pinder.
The BAIA program allows students to specialize in uniquely combined fields of study, such as physical therapy and dance, or film production and music.
Regina Carlow, professor of music and the CFA associate dean says, “Students are building degrees to suit themselves, so we’ve all had to be more flexible.”
As part of their professional development, the BAIA offers internships to budding artists, placing them with organizations that will cultivate the skills students want to develop.
Internships are also a key component of the CFA’s minor in Arts Leadership + Business (ALB), offered at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
According to Regina Puccetti, director of the ALB program, the professional development tools extended to students are two-tiered: while the second tier is the invaluable internships, the first is the coursework that students follow.
“We offer topics like Arts Entrepreneurship and Fundraising for the Arts,” Puccetti says, “so we have a really broad spectrum (of professional development), and then they finish the minor with an internship.”
ALB internships include training and experience in fundraising, curatorial work, shadowing artistic directors, film work and so on.
Other ALB courses offered include The Business of Being an Artist, Social Media Arts Marketing, Business Planning for the Arts, and Non-Profit Arts Administration. The CFA administration and educators are dedicated to nurturing the Arts Leadership + Business minor, so it can continue to expand and grow.
“The program is only eight years old,” Carlow says, “so this is just the beginning.”