Wright State undergraduate Arts Management Certificate program growing in popularity

Cory Wilhite, a senior music education major, decided to add the Arts Management Certificate program to his resume. The certificate program prepares arts lovers for careers in helping run theater companies, orchestras, art galleries, museums and other organizations. (Photo by Erin Pence)

Wright State University’s undergraduate certificate program that prepares arts lovers for careers in helping run theater companies, orchestras, art galleries, museums and other organizations is swelling in popularity.

The Arts Management Certificate program, established in the fall of 2016, currently has 19 students, with five more taking prerequisites to get in.

Hank Dahlman, director of Collaborative Education, Leadership and Innovation in the Arts (CELIA), said the program has struck a chord with students majoring in everything from music education to accounting to anthropology.

“The initial student response was immediate and strong,” Dahlman said.

The program gives students a strong foundation in the business and management principles that are essential in managing and expanding arts organizations. Arts managers are hired by theaters, museums, orchestras, art galleries, film companies, arts councils, talent agencies, dance companies, publishers, recording companies, universities and governments.

“It’s a golden credential,” said Stephanie Dickey, administrative coordinator for CELIA. “When you think you have your career plotted out, you don’t foresee that you might change your mind several times. And there might be lapses where you cannot find jobs and you want to hang out your own shingle.”

One believer is Cory Wilhite, a senior music education major who decided to add the certificate to his resume.

Wilhite took certificate courses in marketing, business writing, business management and grant-writing. (“What teacher doesn’t get a job with grant-writing under their belt in this day and age?” he thought. “Especially with the arts.”)

Wilhite is just coming off job interviews with the Shoals Symphony at the University of Northern Alabama for an operations job and an interview with the Canton Symphony in northern Ohio for a marketing and development position.

“That’s not something I would have had with just an education degree,” he said. “My career field has now tripled. I don’t think people are aware of how many jobs are out there in the arts administration side.”

The certificate program requires 15 credit hours plus a three credit-hour internship.

“We thought we were going to have to hit the hustings pretty hard to get internship locations and partnerships; it’s the other way around,” said Dahlman. “They’re hitting us hard. They want our students so bad.”

Wilhite landed an internship with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, which includes the Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. He was able to get experience in every aspect of the organizations’ operations.

“There were times when I was involved with everything at once,” he said. “It was awesome and overwhelming.”

Other students in the certificate program are currently interning with Victoria Theatre, the Dayton Society of Artists and The Human Race Theatre Company. And one of the program’s three graduates got a job with Disney.

The students come from a wide variety of majors, including art history, liberal studies, marketing, music education, painting, business, anthropology, accounting and mass communication. And the program is open to professionals in the community.

“Even if you are a high school band director or a junior high school art teacher, these are skills that are absolutely essential to what you could be doing,” said Dahlman.

Electives in the program include accounting principles, museum studies, dance history, web development, jazz history and theater production.

Certificate candidates can contact CELIA at (937) 775-ARTS (2787) or CELIA@wright.edu to make an appointment to meet with a CELIA representative to discuss the certificate and their programs of study to complete the certificate.

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