For One Entertaining Career, See OCU University Fills Niche with Its Entertainment Business Program

Article excerpt

Globalization has created booming markets for a wide range of American industries -- including entertainment.

"American entertainment is going to be, basically, an export," said John Bedford, dean of the School of American Dance and Arts Management at Oklahoma City University. "We just don't think of it as an export."

While most people realize that American films dominate the box office worldwide, other forms of entertainment are also becoming popular overseas. At the same time, the number of entertainment venues in the United States is growing. That situation is creating jobs -- especially for managers.

That's a niche Oklahoma City University officials hope to fill with graduates of their entertainment business program.

"The entertainment business degree offers an opportunity -- for people who are interested in being in the management side of entertainment -- the opportunity to do that without them having to necessarily be a singer or an actor or a dancer or a musician," Bedford said. "It recognizes that there are many opportunities in the entertainment industry that are open for people who simply love entertainment and want to be a player or part of it."

The degree includes a liberal arts foundation combined with a business core that includes classes on accounting, management, economics, marketing, business law, and business research and communication.

"We do something which other schools generally don't do at the undergraduate level: We make a bridge between business and arts and entertainment," Bedford said.

The classes combine those two worlds in various ways. For example, students may study how tours are put together, from premise to marketing to implementation. Other classes focus on technical theater, with an emphasis on its relation to production costs.

"We look at it from the standpoint of a manager who has to understand how to read the technical writer that would come through in advance of an entertainment organization, how to understand what they're saying," Bedford said. "And you need to have some basic idea of whether it's needed, how much it's going to cost, where you go get it, how to put it together in a budget before you sign that rider."

Other courses focus on nonprofit organizations, management/labor issues (many theater work forces are unionized), contract law, and workers compensation issues in the performing arts.

That training can open the door to a wide range of opportunities, according to Rachel Jacquemain, assistant professor of arts management and director of the Entertainment Business Program at OCU.

"There are so many different fields that actually come together to make entertainment happen," she said. "And students and parents and the general public don't ever take note of it because it's always behind the scenes. …