On the Path toward Arts Management

Allison Beck loves music, the arts and business. The music major and double-minor in arts management and arts entrepreneurship talks about how Meadows faculty and curriculum are helping her prepare for a career in the arts.

Allison Beck at the 2014 Forté College to Business Leadership Conference in Austin. Beck is earning a B.A. in music and minors in arts management and in arts entrepreneurship (’16).

My academic advisor, Dr. Alan Wagner, understands how much I love music and the study of arts management. He has attended my violin juries and Meadows Symphony Orchestra concerts, and he’s heard me talk about my experiences as an intern for different nonprofit arts organizations. He knows my goal is to work as an arts administrator after graduation. So when he suggested that I apply to the Forté College to Business (C2B) Leadership Conference in Austin, I jumped at the chance.

The C2B conference invites about 100 women from colleges across the country to discuss leadership frameworks for a successful career and life, engage in a marketplace business simulation and network at a company and graduate school expo. This was just how I wanted to spend my weekend – in Austin, Texas, with like-minded people, networking and gathering more info that I knew would help me reach my goals.

The conference was not tailored explicitly to business majors. I gained invaluable insight into internships, the marketplace and a variety of M.B.A. programs. The women I met from places like California, Ohio and North Carolina each had their own incredible story. Some have lived abroad in Beijing; some are entrepreneurs in social businesses; and there were all types of engineers with visions of making improvements in third-world countries.

Other conferences tend to spend most of the time on speakers and panels, whereas at Forté, almost half of the day was spent on a team-building exercise, a business marketplace simulation. I’d have to say the most impactful part of the conference was the business simulation led by Marcel Zondag, a lawyer and professor at Western Michigan University. For the exercise, we were given 20-minute quarters to compete against 15 teams of six people per team with the goal of taking over the marketplace. Serious decisions were made in a short amount of time, such as investing in technology or increasing employee benefits, and substantial risks were taken during each quarter in order to dominate the industry.

A huge takeaway point from the conference overall was from Tina Mabley, assistant dean of the M.B.A. program at UT’s McCombs School of Business: “We need more women in business, we need you. Seek innovation, think big thoughts and dream big.” I realized the importance of women in business and felt inspired by the empowered young women around me.

Meadows Impact

Attending the conference gave me an opportunity to reflect on my experience at Meadows. The AMAE department is one of the impressive programs that attracted me to SMU. The range of courses offered blends my love for arts with my passion for arts management, which has helped me establish my career path.

Violin is my primary instrument and I am grateful to be able to perform and at the same time pursue a career in arts administration. Performing around the Dallas area has given me a different perspective into the operational structure of successful arts organizations. As a musician and performer, I plan to integrate my creative side with business skills to make strong artistic judgments about my organization’s programming, development and vision. Studying arts management has helped me recognize the importance of operating an organization with an efficacious business plan.

The amount of personal thought and attention given to each student at Meadows is remarkable. For me, in addition to Dr. Alan Wagner, other supportive faculty include Professor James Hart, Professor Melissa Murray and Professor Susan Benton Bruning. Without their guidance, I would have found myself straying from both my passion and ambitions. AMAE 4390: Developing an Arts Venture Plan and AMAE 3387: Attracting Capital helped me discover the entrepreneur in myself, because as a manager or as a musician, entrepreneurial skills are necessary for success. The pitch contest (one of the main projects of AMAE 3387) and prior practice from Meadows’ First-year Arts Community Experience (FACE) prepared me for the Forté conference and I was complimented on my 30-second elevator pitch by one of the Forté directors. Professor Murray has connected me to the executive directors of Dallas Chamber Music Society and Bridge the Gap Chamber Players, both nonprofits for which I am currently working, thanks to her. Professor Bruning also sparked a new interest that I did not know I had: arts and entertainment law.

Attending the Forté conference as a Meadows student has opened up new possibilities of receiving an M.B.A. degree and someday holding a chief executive officer position.