Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship, Citi Performing Arts Center Launch New College Course on Boston Performing Arts Landscape

Berklee students to examine the role of performing arts centers within a community and uncover solutions for sustaining relevancy

(Boston, MA) – Berklee Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) and Citi Performing Arts Center have partnered to launch a new Spring 2016 Entrepreneurial Practicum at the college titled “Performing Arts Centers: Sustaining Relevancy | Making an Impact”. This 15-week course is a part of the Music Business curriculum and designed to introduce students to the varied roles of historic performing arts centers in an urban environment. Students will examine the challenges of sustaining relevancy and making a civic impact in the context of current economic and political climates and propose solutions that focus on how performing arts centers can succeed.

There was a lot of upheaval in the Boston theater industry in 2015, and a lot of questions remain unanswered about what the local performing arts landscape will look like five or 10 years from now, said Josiah A. Spaulding, Jr., President & CEO of Citi Performing Arts Center. Since Boston is home to the nation’s brightest young people, we thought, why not have them examine the current landscape through their creative lenses and share feedback on the current challenges and opportunities facing performing arts centers all across the country and right here in Boston? Arts and cultural organizations play an incredibly important role in our community, and we are very excited to embark on this new venture with Berklee to uncover how the performing arts industry can grow and thrive.

The course kicks off on January 26 on the Wang Theatre stage. Working in small groups, senior-level students will explore seminal questions facing performing arts centers today and propose solutions. Topics will include: 1) Boston’s theater climate: too many seats, too many theatres, and not enough shows; 2) How to address programming needs and engage audiences in a minority majority city; 3) How to use technology and innovation to engage younger audiences and enhance the overall live performance experience; 4) Different organizational models: Profit v. nonprofit, commercial v. non-commercial; and 5) How to create a dedicated revenue source to support arts and culture.

The role of performing arts centers in any community is integral to its cultural foundation, and we want to uncover solutions to ensure these centers sustain relevancy in Boston and beyond, said Panos Panay, Founding Managing Director of BerkleeICE. We believe there is a strong link between creative, innovative thinking and the entrepreneurial journey, which is at the core of the BerkleeICE philosophy. We designed this course as a way to not only provide hands-on experience for Berklee students but also provide leading performing arts centers – like Citi Performing Arts Center – with valuable input from the city's brightest minds to help them innovate for future generations.

The new course will feature a variety of both local and national industry leaders as guest speakers, including Jon Abbott, President & CEO of WGBH; Dave Balter, Head of Transactions at Pluralsight and Venture Partner Boston Seed Capital; Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston; Paul Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation; Robert Travaglini, Former President of the Massachusetts Senate; Panos Panay, Founding Managing Director of BerkleeICE; and Josiah A. Spaulding, Jr., President & CEO of Citi Performing Arts Center. At the end of the semester, students will have created a business plan proposing solutions to one of the seminal questions, examined the viability of live performance as a business, and evaluated various methods of audience engagement.

We are thrilled to be entering into this academic partnership. Our music business/management program has always emphasized practical, real world training, and I can’t imagine a better learning lab than Citi Performing Arts Center, said Don Gorder, Chair of the Music Business/Management Department. To be given an inside view of the challenges facing performing arts centers, and an opportunity to develop solutions through innovative thinking (with influence from BerkleeICE), could be a life-changing experience for our students. How lucky they are!

To learn more about the Berklee Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship, click here.

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