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FACE: First-Year Arts Community Experience

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The Art of the Elevator Pitch

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In FACE, first-year artists at Meadows learn to work together, monetize their practice, collaborate well, and find common ground among their different forms of artistry. Led by music faculty member Melissa Murray and a gathering of faculty from many Meadows disciplines, the class allows students to meet local and international professionals and gain real-world insight into what it means to be a working, collaborative artist.

First-year students at universities everywhere spend hour after hour in orientation sessions: how to survive life in a dorm; how to make healthy living choices; how to pick classes and start down an academic path.

Meadows students in art, dance, film, music and theatre also have a semester-long orientation developed specifically for today’s artist, a mandatory pass/fail course called MSA 1001/1101: First-Year Arts Community Experience (FACE).

Launched in fall 2010, this orientation class doesn’t spend time explaining how critical it is to spend days and nights in the practice room, in the drawing studio, or in front of the mirror practicing monologues. Instead, students learn the fine art of navigating the art world as an entrepreneur and collaborator.

“Artists have to think about more than just the ‘attraction’ – what content audiences see and hear – and become the head of marketing, the head of legal, the head of payroll, the CEO, the head of sales,” says the former dean of the Meadows School, José Antonio Bowen.

To drive home the concept, the class features guest speakers with real-world experience at promoting ideas, skills and talent. The message to the students is clear: being a skilled artist does not necessarily equate with being a successful artist, regardless of how you measure success. Audiences have to attach value to your art. Messages have to be delivered. Real strategy and effort must be put into ensuring that there are audiences and resources supporting the arts.

Check out the videos on this page for a glimpse of FACE classes from the recent past. As a capstone project, each student in the course creates an elevator pitch that differentiates and encapsulates his or her artistic vision.  In “The Art of the Elevator Pitch,” Chris Westfall, Meadows theatre graduate (’87) and National Elevator Pitch Champion provides guidance on the creation of elevator pitches.

“Being a painter, being a musician, being a sculptor – so what? What does that mean you can do with, through, or for someone else?” he says. “Knowing your story is knowing how to tell it.”

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