Unique major for art students



By Rebecca Watters

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The arts administration major is a unique opportunity for students. According to artsadministration.org, UK is one of only 38 U.S. universities to offer the degree to undergraduates.

An arts administration major prepares students for management positions in art-related career fields. UK offers the major for undergraduates, as well as an online master’s degree.

“We are one of the oldest undergraduate programs in the country at 28 years old,” program director Rachel Shane said.  “We’re unique for just providing this major.”

The master’s program currently includes 55 students from 28 different states and five countries. Master’s students often already work in the field and are looking to move up in the work force.

“Master’s students are often interested in moving up and becoming a manager or CEO,” Shane said.

The undergraduate BA program currently has 112 students. After graduating with an arts administration major, many students will choose a career path in the arts. This can include anything from working in a museum to managing a theater production.

“Depending on their interests, students learn about many things including marketing, budgeting and public relations,” assistant professor Yuha Jung said. “This degree is really competitive, and our program helps prepare students for their jobs.”

In addition to the arts administration undergraduate major, students must also choose a minor from one of the following: visual studies, theater, music, dance or arts history.

“We really try to focus on providing an individual experience for our students,” Shane said. “Our classes are small, and everything is structured so that students get hands-on experience.”

Senior Nathan Hewitt, a current arts administration student, is double-majoring in music performance and arts administration, and his minor is in visual studies. He said the program has made him confident he can succeed after graduation.

“It gives us practical experience. It covers a wide variety of areas within the fields. That’s important because most non-profit organizations are small, so staff members have to wear many hats,” Hewitt said.

Besides experience in the classroom, the arts administration major requires students to find an internship before they graduate. Prior to beginning their internship, Jung and other faculty members work hard to prepare their students.

“We have a one credit hour course that teaches students how to present themselves professionally. They learn to write cover letters and how to work in a real-world setting,” Jung said. “This internship really helps them get a job.”

The focus of the major is on non-profit career paths, which, combined with the focus on arts, distinguishes it from a business degree. Many students choose to work at a non-profit organization when they graduate, and the arts administration degree prepares them for this experience.

“Non-profit work is about the protection and creation of artwork and not creating a profit,” Shane said. “We prepare students for their careers in non-profit work where the work is less about the profit and more about the art and bringing it into the community.”

Senior international student Yuanyuan “Abby” Bao has spent three years at UK working toward her arts administration major and theater minor after transferring from Inner Mongolia, China, and attending two years in college there.

“In China it’s about reading books and writing. Here I’m doing typing on computers, and I learned about social media,” Bao said. “Next semester, I will do an internship and work with social media and fundraising there. In the U.S., I can do both school work and intern, which I like.”

Hewitt has had a similarly positive experience. His internship as general manager at the WRFL radio station is giving him the hands-on experience that the arts administration major strives to provide.

“It’s really great to be in management position at such a young age and to have this amount of responsibility is unique,” Hewitt said. “I get to put what I learn in class into practice.”

For 2009 graduate and current arts administration alumnus Nick Covault, present-day success is a result of the arts administration major. He currently works as the programming manager for the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville. He focuses on getting the nationally-touring artists off the stage and into the community.

“The arts administration program provided me a trajectory and framework for my career now. The program’s emphasis on interning and volunteer work forced me to go out and network. I’ve had three job in the six years since I’ve graduated, and I can attribute the arts administration program to every single one of them.”

Covault returned to UK last spring to speak about his current career and reflect on his experiences in obtaining his major. He says the program looks different than when he was here, but he knows it is in good hands and heading in the right direction.

“I’m really proud of this program. It has grown leaps and bounds since I’ve been there. The best is yet to come,” he said.