The most important question for incoming arts students is, “How am I going to work?” It is no secret art is a difficult industry to be successful in due to inconsistent work, high expectations and low pay. Requiring work experience makes this process more complicated, because how can one get this experience without working? It’s definitely a conundrum. Well, arts students should never fear, the University of Utah’s College of Fine Arts is all about getting students work experience, and they know how to go about doing it.
To start off, all of the professors in the fine arts are working professionals. Their advice is subsequently based off of real-world experiences and not just from textbooks. Secondly, the arts programs focus on practice. The secret to making a spectacular film, nailing the audition or mastering a technique is in repetition. Arts classes are designed not only to teach valuable skills, but also to provide a platform for that practice. Studios are open and available around the clock in theater, dance and music schools within the college. Studio space is never too hard to come by, and the film school has beautiful facilities to work in whenever inspiration hits. In addition, the Marriott Library just put in a new recording studio and film space.
Once you have gained and honed your skills, the College of Fine Arts will also provide you with a platform to showcase them. For example, the theater department does a total of six shows per year, which anyone can audition for. Two of the shows are musicals and four are plays, including at least one contemporary and one Shakespearean play. The theater department has also recently partnered with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in order to bring directors to the U who are currently casting in the industry. The seniors in the Musical Theatre Program also get to perform a show of their choice. The Actor Training Program seniors do individual projects supported by faculty, which can involve performing one-act plays or even writing and designing their own shows.
The U’s School of Dance also provides many opportunities to showcase student talent. The ballet program has its very own company, Utah Ballet. It is the highest technique level for students, and dancers must audition in order to receive a part. The ballet program performs a show or showcase in the fall, and it hosts a gala in the spring, which includes excerpts from famous story ballets, such as last spring’s gala which featured “Swan Lake.”
Modern dancers can gain professional-level experience through the Modern Performing Dance Company. The company performs two seasons at the U, and it also performs locally every year. The company also frequently goes to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. as a part of the Northwestern Region of American College Dance Festival.
The School of Music has six ensembles open to all students consisting of bands, choirs, orchestras, jazz, opera and small ensembles. Within those ensembles are more groupings. For example, there are three choirs: U Chamber Choir, A Capella Choir and Women’s Chorus. Additionally,there is the contemporary a capella choir, Infrared, which is a competitive singing group associated with the School of Music.
These six ensembles perform all over the U, and combined with the student juries and mini concerts, they perform music almost weekly. The most well-known of these is the marching band, which plays at every home football game.
The Department of Art and Art History is always displaying work all over its building. The department frequently puts together small gallery shows, and it is constantly building student portfolios. The Marriott Library often features work, particularly book arts, at the book arts studio in the library.
The Department of Film & Media Arts is likewise always encouraging portfolio growth and enabling students to work on projects that interest them. This coming year, the film and performance programs are hoping to build a stronger network in order for film students to work with students in areas of dance, acting and music.
There is no need to worry about work experience for arts students at the U. Opportunity is everywhere, you need take advantage of it.