How Art Schools can Become More Competitive

Pic of Stanislavski

Konstantin Stanislavsky or "Stan the Man"

Education is, first and foremost, a business. As is exemplified by rising tuition costs, educational institutions are not charity organizations.

There are a vast number of arts education schools in the states and the competition between schools is fierce. If schools desire to be well thought of as serious places of study in the field of arts, they must compete for the most talented and brightest students. As talent is rare, there are only so many students who possess the natural skills necessary to develop sustainable income via traditional paths of work in the arts.

Educational institutions want their graduates to appear in high profile scenarios, as it shines light on the institutions success as a school and the effectiveness of its faculty and curriculum. Every school wants to claim credit for the success of its graduates. After all, each school needs poster children. They need successful artists they can point to and say, “See. Our system works”.

However, for a number of our nations institutions, the graduates they tout are the exception and not the rule. Most graduates will not go on to develop “names of note”. Most will likely pursue careers in fields other than that in which they studied. Look at some of these lists and you’ll see that a lot of these schools are still touting alumni success that occurred thirty years ago. Do you know how much change occurs in a typical theatre school over thirty years? Any institution worth their salt is going to evolve as the market evolves and as new theories and standards of thinking emerge. How can such schools, in good conscience, still laud the success of decades past graduates, while advertising a program that is very different from the one such graduates attended?

Most disciplines in the arts have their standard offerings in way of what techniques they offer to students. In the case of theatre, the Stanislavski Technique reigns supreme. The extreme majority of training institutions in America teach this technique. This technique translates to mean realism. It is the style of most TV and film acting and is very popular in professional theatres.

But if you know your theatre history, you know that the Stanislavski Technique once did not exist. It only began popping up in America in the 1920’s. In terms of the vast span of theatre history, 80 to 90 years is not so long. That is only one human lifetime.

In my work with The Hart Technique, I call for a new standard in arts education. The standard I propose, is not to throw away our assets (the effective system of training we have developed in the Stanislavski technique), but to marry techniques of art training and entrepreneurial training.

Such a marriage of disciplines creates artists who know how to make a living with their skills and work, as they are creating work for themselves. THAT is marketable information. THAT is something a school’s marketing department can tout as success.

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and The International Theatre Academy Norway.


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