SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts aims to teach business skills along with craft

Jose Bowen, dean of SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, talks about the school's program to teach business skills to arts students while they sharpen their craft.

By Melissa Repko

UNIVERSITY PARK — Southern Methodist University’s arts school is fighting back against jokes about starving artists and graduates who serve burgers and fries.

With new courses and degree programs, the Meadows School of the Arts aims to teach business savvy along with craft. The school’s dean, José Bowen, says the goal is simple: to prepare students for meaningful and profitable arts careers. He calls business skills “the missing piece of arts education.”

“We want 100 percent of our students to graduate with a business plan,” Bowen said. “Really, it’s a life plan.”

Two years ago, the school created arts entrepreneurship and arts management minors and began requiring first-year students to take a lecture course about the professional arts world. Last summer, Jim Hart, a Meadows and Yale School of Drama alumnus, was hired as the first director of Meadows’ arts entrepreneurship program. Before returning to SMU, he founded TITAN, a theater school in Norway with an entrepreneurship emphasis.

Similar programs and courses have been catching on at schools around the country....