Monday, June 17

There’s a future in arts management


AS jobs and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are all the rage, we tend to forget figures across history who have achieved great success in arts management such as Massimiliano Gioni, Rose Lee Goldberg, Paul Schimmel and many other successful curators and directors.

It was the culmination of their experience, critical thinking and management skills that led them to great heights. When most people hear about arts management, their thoughts turn entirely to the humanities. Rigid barriers tend to separate arts management and science.

The only difference between choosing the arts compared to science is that the former tends not to receive as much respect and recognition as it rightfully deserves.

In this difficult economy, students tend to prioritise employability in other fields. Sadly, many still think studying the arts would mean no future.

“In all honesty, because I was brought up to think that way and because it’s drilled into our minds that studying the arts would potentially land you jobless, I can’t deny that I initially feared choosing this path as well,” said a Diploma in Arts Management student.

The importance of arts management is actually gaining recognition in the 21st century. High competency in this field actually brings about a positive outcome in terms of the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, there are some who still have ‘old school’ thinking.

“It is also disheartening because whenever I tell someone that I’m studying arts management, I could tell by their immediate reaction or expression that they feel like I’m dumb and my existence wouldn’t even make a change in the country’s economy in years to come,” said an undergraduate.

We have actually met countless arts management alumni who have been successful in every sphere, are living fulfilled lives, and have made us all proud.

A Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) arts management graduate, who is currently working in the production department of an established arts company, said despite facing negativity and prejudice, he still managed to enter a related job market.

His advice to the younger generation is, “I hope you guys would continue to follow your dreams and not be held back by how the older generation would tell you what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is not.

“I am really glad that my parents are very supportive of the choice of pursuing arts management because my dad believes that it’s better to be street smart than book smart. Which is true, because what is the point of having a world full of knowledge from the things you read when you have never truly experienced what it is like in the outside world?”

A good job and top salary out of university, we all agree, would be wonderful. More important by far is what our graduates do beyond the starting line to build a rewarding life, create a fulfilling career and serve their communities.

We have confidence in our futures because employers of huge companies and corporations expect their employees to be proficient in communication, management, leadership and able to learn quickly. All these traits are fostered better by a liberal arts education, which is arts management, rather than just a technical degree.

Listen to yourself and be deaf to negative thoughts.

Khashini Devi R Varatharajoo, Nithya Kaliannan, Nithia Maniam, Rachel Jasmine Richard and Punitha Chandran