Arts Leaders in the Making: Two M.A./M.B.A. Students Receive Business Council for the Arts Fellowships

Patricia A. Porter Fellowship supports grad students Kristen Lega and Amy Aughinbaugh as they pursue arts management careers

The Dallas-based Business Council for the Arts (BCA) has named SMU graduate students Kristen Lega (’16) and Amy Aughinbaugh (’16) as recipients of its 2015 Patricia A. Porter Fellowship in Arts Management.

The fellowship is awarded annually to one or more graduate students at North Texas colleges or universities studying arts management. Selection is based on scholastic achievement, professional achievement, community participation, demonstrated leadership potential and financial need. The Fellowship allots up to $5,000 to each recipient.

Lega and Auginbaugh are second-year students in SMU’s M.A./M.B.A. program, the nation’s only concurrent dual degree graduate program in arts management. The M.A./M.B.A. combines a Master of Arts degree from Meadows School of the Arts and a Master of Business Administration degree from Cox School of Business.

Both students say the M.A./M.B.A. coursework and its required full-time internships have provided invaluable experience as they prepare to establish careers in the arts. Lega interned with Dallas Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Jonathan Martin in summer 2015, working on a variety of projects such as research for upcoming collective bargaining negotiations, assisting on a purchase behavior survey and helping organize logistics for the orchestra’s 2016 European tour. Aughinbaugh, who spent her summer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., helped the Gallery’s development department prepare its semi-annual donor publication, Bulletin, and participated in interactive meetings and presentations with various departments.

“The MA./M.B.A. program is highly effective in its ability to seamlessly connect the arts and business,” says Lega. “For example, we've had a number of highly regarded arts leaders come and talk to the M.A./M.B.A. students throughout the school year, and those experiences have been really valuable and educational.” Lega also cites Zannie Voss, professor and chair of Arts Management & Arts Entrepreneurship at Cox and Meadows, as an amazing resource. “She has been incredibly helpful to all of us regarding connecting us with mentors in the community and providing educational opportunities for us.”

Aughinbaugh appreciates the program’s significant case study assignments and says they give students opportunities to experience real-world applications of what they are learning in the classroom. “Even prior to officially beginning school last August [2014], Zannie Voss helped me to arrange a summer opportunity at the Dallas Museum of Art where I analyzed their e-mail marketing strategy,” says Aughinbaugh. “Thanks to these experiences, I will graduate from SMU with solid, well-rounded knowledge of the arts management industry and will be armed with solutions for its challenges.”

After graduation, Lega’s goal is to combine her passion for music with her M.A./M.B.A. education and work for a symphony orchestra or opera. Aughinbaugh plans to combine her degrees and interest in arts and education to implement “valuable systemic and policy changes within public-serving organizations.”

“I see the business and the arts communities as two sides of the same coin,” says Aughinbaugh. “Dallas has long been recognized as an American business leader, and our arts and culture community is increasingly recognized at a national level. Both industries benefit from the strength of the other, and I’m passionate about contributing to the growth of both sectors.”

The Patricia A. Porter Fellowship in Arts Management was established in 2009 to honor Patricia Porter’s contribution to the Business Council for the Arts and the North Texas arts community. Porter, co-founder of SMU’s Tate Lecture Series, founded the BCA in 1988 and served as its executive director from 1988 to 2009.

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.