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Vol. 5 No. 3
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

What Do We Know About Graduates of Arts Administration Programs? (Part 1)

Arts administration, also called arts management, is a field of study providing graduates with the tools to create, develop, facilitate, and evaluate arts and cultural programs and organizations (Association of Arts Administration Educators). The findings presented here represent the responses of about 700 alumni from 19 institutions who responded to the SNAAP survey in the fall of 2015 and 2016. The sample is overwhelmingly white (89%) and female (73%). A majority (71%) received their degrees in the last 10 years, and 43% graduated in the last 5 years. They majored in one of the following: arts administration, performing arts management, music business, theater management, or other arts administration.


The Good News

Similar to the full SNAAP dataset of over 73,000 alumni, arts administration graduates are largely happy with their intensive education and careers.

  • 89% say their overall experience as arts administration students was “good or “excellent”
  • 72% would attend their institutions again
  • 84% would recommend their institution to another student like them
  • 81% are satisfied ("very satisfied" + "somewhat satisfied") with the occupation in which they spend the majority of their work time
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How do Skills Stack Up?

Financial/Business Management and Entrepreneurial Skills

Arts administration alumni learn financial and business management skills at a much higher rate than other SNAAP respondents.

Percent Who Learned business/Financial Skills "Very Much"

  • 40% of undergraduate arts administration ¬†alumni learned business management “very much” in school versus only 4% of all undergraduate arts alumni in the 2015-2016 SNAAP data
  • 57% of graduate level arts administration alumni v 6% of all arts alumni

Interestingly, entrepreneurial skills do not appear to be very important to the current work life of arts administration alumni. While 24% said they learned entrepreneurial skills "Very much"; in school, only about a third (31% of undergraduate and 36% of graduate) say that entrepreneurial skills are very important to their current work. This is in contrast to all SNAAP respondents: 42% indicate that entrepreneurial skills are very important to their current work life.

Communications and Thinking Skills

Both communications skills (clear writing and persuasive speaking) and the “thinking skills” (critical thinking and analysis, and creative thinking) show large gaps between what the arts administration alumni learned in school and what they need for their current work. While these results do not vary widely from those of all arts graduates, there is some cause for concern.

Graduate Arts Aministration Alumni


Part 2 of this topic will include information about the careers of arts administration graduates, as well as data on all arts alumni who have also worked in arts administration.

--The findings in this DataBrief were originally presented at the Association of Arts Administration Educators Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2017, by Sally Gaskill, SNAAP Director (and recipient of an MA in Arts Management). Thanks to Larry Epstein of Drexel University for his assistance.

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News from SNAAP

The 2017 SNAAP survey will be in the field in October and November, with arts alumni from
38 institutions receiving an invitation to take the survey. These institutions are participating:

1. Art Academy of Cincinnati
2. Boston University
3. Bucknell University
4. Cleveland Institute of Art
5. Columbia University Schools of the Arts
6. Columbus College of Art and Design
7. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
8. DePaul University (Music)
9. Florida International University
10. Framingham State University
11. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
12. Kansas City Art Institute
13. Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance*
14. Maine College of Art
15. Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design
16. Montserrat College of Art
17. Mount St. Mary's University
18. New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA)*
19. New York University Tisch School of the Arts
20. OCAD University
21. Roosevelt University
22. Samford University
23. School for Creative and Performing Arts (Cincinnati)*
24. Shepherd University
25. Syracuse University
26. Temple University
27. Texas Christian University
28. Texas State University
29. Tufts University (School of the Museum of Fine Arts)
30. University of California-Santa Cruz
31. University of Central Florida
32. University of Houston
33. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
34. University of Nevada-Las Vegas
35. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
36. University of Utah
37. Virginia Tech
38. Western Washington University

* Arts High School

SNAAP staff will be attending and/or presenting at the following events this fall. We hope to see you there!

  • Arts Summit at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, October 12 (Sally Gaskill)
  • Social Theory, Politics, and the Arts, October 12-14, Minneapolis (Angie Miller)
  • International Council of Fine Arts Deans, October 18-20, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Sally Gaskill)
  • Arts Schools Network, October 24-27, Minneapolis  (Sally Gaskill)
  • Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities, November 1-3, Boston (Sally Gaskill)
  • National Association for Gifted Children - Arts Network, November 9-12, Charlotte (Angie Miller)

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