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SMTD Receives Quick Win/Discovery Grant for Cultural Entrepreneurship Project


The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has been named a recipient of the latest and final round of Third Century Initiative Quick Win/Discovery grants from the University. SMTD will receive a grant of $42,250 to support a Cultural Entrepreneurship Initiative created to help performing arts students develop entrepreneurial skills in the transformed cultural landscape of the 21st century.

The project, subtitled "Transforming Art and Artists in the Age of Digital Media," was developed to address the gap between academic training and professional success by helping students to become "cultural entrepreneurs" by learning to create their own opportunities and business ventures. Students will be taught to imagine their own projects, recruit collaborators, and plan, present, experiment, refine, raise funds for, and execute their vision.

The goal is to graduate students who are not only among the most talented and skilled in their chosen art of expression, but are also equipped to take on the many duties of traditional support staff, such as agents, publicists, managers, designers, audio engineers, videographers, and producers.

Led by Mark Clague, associate professor of musicology and director of research, the project is a collaborative effort amongst faculty from across SMTD disciplines. Clague says the initiative is designed to help performing arts students think about how to leverage technology to reach audiences in new ways, a skill set that has not been a part of the traditional performing arts curriculum.

"It's not enough today for dancers, actors, and musicians to graduate with exceptional skills and training in performance," said Clague. "If we can give our students skills and awareness, and a spirit of entrepreneurship, they can find their way in this new economy--not victims of the performance world but as artists who have agency, and control their own destinies."

The project will launch three courses covering marketing, social media, cultural entrepreneurship and the recording industry. In addition, it will create an arts entrepreneurship speaker series with podcasts, as well as a student-run record company and an arts venture "challenge competition" to foster and inspire students from across campus to pitch new ideas and put them into action. It is expected that over the three terms of the pilot, the project will reach up to 805 U-M students.

Quick Win/Discovery grants are intended to encourage faculty to explore new ways to provide learning and research experiences for students that are creative, engaged, multidisciplinary, and that foster social and civic responsibility, communication, collaboration and self-agency. The projects also address the changing way students learn in an increasingly global and digital age.

Nearly $1 million was awarded by the University in the final call for the smaller of the Transforming Learning for the Third Century grants, the largest round to date for this phase of the initiative. The grants provide up to $50,000 for projects that allow a general education hypothesis to be explored, piloted, or expanded.

More information on the latest round of Quick Win/Discovery grant winners is available in The University Record.


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Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

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