Penn State Behrend Now Offering Arts Administration Major

Young art majors often list their occupation as “cashier.” It’s a rite of passage for actors, painters and stage designers.

Penn State Behrend Now Offering Arts Administration Major

Franchesca Fee, the college's first declared Arts Administration major, talks with Sharon Dale, the program's coordinator. Fee spent the summer cataloging the art collection at the Erie Insurance Group.

The new Arts Administration major at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, offers another option. The interdisciplinary program will train art-minded students in marketing, management and event planning – skills that will prepare them for work at auction houses, art galleries, museums and music companies.

“You can work at your passion, and you can eat, too,” said Dr. Sharon Dale, associate professor of art history and coordinator of the program.

The art culture’s shift to niche markets has created jobs. Pennsylvania has more than 20,000 arts-related businesses, which employ more than 100,000 people, according to a study by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit arts-advocacy group.

Arts administrators are responsible for budgets and staff, fundraising and public relations. They coordinate volunteers and work closely with an organization’s board of directors.

The Penn State Behrend program will focus on marketing. “You have to connect the right audience with the art,” Dale said.

In addition to coursework, which will include modules in music, theater or visual arts, students will be required to complete two internships. One will be done on campus, where the student will organize and stage an arts event. The other will be off campus. The Erie Art Museum, Erie Philharmonic and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh have agreed to partner with the college on those projects, as have the Chautauqua Institution, the Brooklyn Museum and Christie’s in New York.