Academic minor breaks down departmental silos at Suffolk


Colin Cavanaugh/Graphics Editor

The Arts Administration minor is a hidden gem at Suffolk University. Having only been around for five years since its creation in 2014, the program’s main strength is its ability to form a collaboration between the arts and business departments.

“It’s most important when you’re going into an arts program especially to know the business side as well… I want to have a much more structured business and artistic version of a degree,” said Julia Bregy, a senior theater major who wants to go into the arts administration field as a stage manager.

One of the things that makes the minor appealing is the diverse career field it promises after graduation. Marketing, fundraising, for-profit and nonprofit and art curation are only a handful of industries that careers involving arts administration can be obtained in.

Professor Heather Stern, the director of the minor, has firsthand experience in the field, as she came from a Broadway stage manager position before teaching at Suffolk. Stern believes that there is a need for the program at Suffolk and loves passing on what she has learned from her experience in the field.

“There are a lot of people who want to be in the arts but don’t want to devote their lives to performing,” said Stern.

After students take the required courses, they can pick an administrative focus area, such as government, business, theater or advertising. As a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School, the minor allows students to take interdepartmental courses.

“[The minor is] looking at a cross section and trying to break up those silos that we tend to get into,” said Stern.

Stern’s arrival in the minor is fueled by the hope to tap into other academic departments, as she believes that the arts are capable of pulling together different elements from a variety of fields.

“There’s a balance of business and art that we’re learning,” said Bregy, who is currently taking Marketing 210 and Nonprofit Management, a business class and a public administration class.

Charles Tang, a senior business economics major in the Sawyer Business School, has a firsthand perspective on merging business and arts. He found his love for the two by being on the executive boards of several student performing groups on campus. While he may not pursue a career in the arts field, he is interested in having arts administration as a minor.

“I owe it to myself to give the arts a whirl since I’ve had such a good time doing it,” said Tang.

Stern’s arrival in the minor is fueled by the hope to tap into other academic departments, as she believes that the arts are capable of pulling together different elements from a variety of fields.”

Stern’s belief on the need for arts administration applies to the real world, especially as Boston is a hub for the arts. In 2011 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that art administrators working for a performing arts company earned an average salary of $107,520.

“Nobody really thinks about [arts administration]. Someone needs to price the tickets, somebody needs to do the books,” said Tang.

The problem for the minor seems to be promoting it to students because there are roughly 25 students currently enrolled. However, Bregy and Tang agree that the class does not feel piloted, instead it is a small class with two teachers that provide individualized attention. As the program for the minor continues to grow, students from both CAS and SBS have the option to be introduced to this pathway as a career.

Bregy believes it is great to have the program, and as it expands she hopes to see the artistic and business aspects of it merge even closer. Both Bregy and Tang hope that more students will see the minor as a valuable addition to their learning here at Suffolk.