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Three MA/MBA Students Awarded Patricia A. Porter Fellowships

The Business Council for the Arts supports grad students pursuing arts management careers

M.A./M.B.A. graduate students Cathy Bencivenga (’15), James Jillson (’15) and Jack Schwimmer (’15) have each been awarded a fellowship from the Business Council for the Arts (BCA). The Patricia A. Porter Fellowship in Arts Management seeks to honor Patricia Porter’s contribution to the Business Council for the Arts and the North Texas arts community by awarding a one-year fellowship to a graduate student or students currently enrolled in a graduate arts management program at a North Texas college or university. The fellowships are based on scholastic achievement, professional achievement, community participation, demonstrated leadership potential and financial need.

Bencivenga, Jillson and Schwimmer will each receive a $1,500 award. After accepting the award, the recipients are expected to maintain a 3.00 GPA on a 4.0 scale and make reasonable progress toward the completion of a graduate degree leading to a career in arts management.

As Schwimmer progresses through SMU’s M.A./M.B.A. program, he sees several options for his career path. “The further I get, the more open I become to possibilities,” he says. “However, I remain most passionate about arts education, and I think I want to use the skills and knowledge gained in this program to ultimately lead an organization that uses the arts and arts education as a vehicle for social justice.”

Bencivenga, whose background is in theatre, hopes to use her M.A./M.B.A. degree to advance into senior-level leadership in a major theatre or arts organization.

Jillson, a classical violist, has worked in administrative positions for music organizations in Santa Barbara, but wanted a broader foundation in fundraising, marketing and financial management to comfortably move to an executive-level position.

“Many of the concepts we learn in the M.A./M.B.A. program are those which would either take years to learn on the job or just couldn't be learned all that well solely by working for a not-for-profit organization,” he says.

“I feel strongly that the most effective arts managers are those who can strike a balance - those who have a distinct artistic sensibility but also feel just as comfortable with the complexities of managing people, finances and strategy. That's what this field really needs, and that's what I hope to bring to the table.”

Mary Stall, chair of the BCA-Leadership Arts Alumni Fellowship Committee, says SMU was well represented in the pool of candidates this year. “The level of commitment and potential is so incredible with these three students. The committee was so very impressed with each one.”

Patricia A. Porter was founding director and CEO of the Business Council for the Arts, an organization formed in 1988 by Raymond D. Nasher and members of the Dallas Citizens Council. The BCA works to position Dallas as a world-class business city by increasing business support for the region’s arts and culture. Porter led the organization for 21 years before retiring in 2009, the same year she was awarded the BCA Obelisk Award, presented to businesses and individuals who have provided extraordinary innovations and partnerships in support of North Texas’s creative vitality. During the Obelisk ceremony, Porter was described as an influential visionary leader in the North Texas community whose considerable efforts helped boost arts philanthropy in the region, evidenced today by Dallas’s successful Arts District and the region’s growing arts community.

Pat Porter began her career at the Dallas Museum of Art as director of public relations and publications. In 1978 she joined Southern Methodist University as director of community relations for Meadows School of the Arts; from 1982 to 1987 she served as associate vice president for SMU University relations. She was also co-founder and, for five years, director of the SMU Tate Lecture Series.

Read more about the M.A./M.B.A. program at Meadows School of the Arts.

Read more about the Business Council for the Arts.

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