There’s growing conversation among conservatories and other arts-focused degree programs in higher education about what it is they’re actually preparing students to do. The unspoken assumption has often been that music, theater, and related degrees are intended to develop artists of high technical excellence, prepared (at least technically) for professional work as artists.
Of course, many more students graduate from these programs than could ever find employment in the cultural world. And, in fact, many enter such programs not to become professionals, but to immerse themselves in an endeavor that they love.
To learn more about the outcomes of arts training programs, including conservatories in higher education, the Surdna Foundation just launched a new research initiative, the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). Says the report web site:
Arts alumni who graduated 5, 10, 15 and 20 years earlier will provide information about their formal arts training. They will report the nature of their current arts involvement, reflect on the relevance of arts training to their work and further education, and describe turning points, obstacles, and key relationships and opportunities that influenced their lives and careers.
The effort should yield intriguing results, certainly useful results for any arts training program that wants to bring clarity and intent to its work.