Business Students Create Ties to Local Arts Community

March 5, 2009

Business Students Create Ties to Local Arts Community

TEMPE, Ariz. — In a time of recession when funding for the arts can often suffer, students at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University are actually learning more about the intimate relationship between business and the arts, while creating important connections to the local arts community. Two new projects were designed to encourage students to attend arts performances, learn about show business and possibly even pave the way for future participation on the boards of arts organizations.

The Business 4 Arts program is a partnership between the W. P. Carey MBA -- Executive Program and Ballet Arizona, the Arizona Theatre Company, Arizona Opera and The Phoenix Symphony. A 2008 Executive Program graduate who worked in nonprofit opera for two decades, Diana Hossack, came up with the idea.

Business 4 Arts allows students, as well as W. P. Carey School alumni, faculty and staff, to sample one performance from each of the four arts organizations at a discounted package price. The series also includes backstage tours and a chance to meet with performers and arts executives. In addition, MBA students participate in a panel discussion.

“The program benefits both business students and the arts community,” says Ajay Vinze, faculty director of the W. P. Carey MBA – Executive Program and the Earl and Gladys Davis Distinguished Professor of Information Systems at the school. “Executive MBA students learn more about the arts, and the arts organizations gain exposure to current and future business leaders.”

“As we look at the MBA students coming through the program and going into the field of business, we’re catching them at a level where they can gain an understanding of the value of the arts,” says Debra Harrison, executive director of Arizona Opera. “They also learn the arts don’t just benefit individuals like them, but also the entire business community. For example, corporations considering a headquarters move or building a new facility may be more likely to move to a city with a vibrant arts culture.”

The final performance in this season’s Business 4 Arts program will be a jazz concert from The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall on Sunday, March 8.

Also, Arizona Opera is already enjoying the results of another business/arts program through the school. Associate Professor Daniel Brooks and students from his honors statistics course provided research to Arizona Opera officials about the demographics of their audiences, which the Opera will use in developing and marketing future programs. The students conducted observational studies of 13 opera performances in two cities.

“There aren’t many statistics classes that include ‘Rigoletto’ as part of the course, but the students really embraced this opportunity,” says Brooks, who teaches in the nationally ranked Supply Chain Management Department at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “They worked with Arizona Opera to design the study, conduct the sampling and write the report summarizing their insights.”

Opera officials say the statistical research revealed new opportunities for more effective marketing that will affect their outreach strategy in the future. The class also offered suggestions for making the college community – not typically a major source of opera attendees – more aware of performances and how accessible they are. The W. P. Carey Consulting Scholars Program will continue its joint research with Arizona Opera this spring, including interviews with opera attendees and a survey, to get further insight into making the arts more attractive and accessible to people in the Phoenix area.

“The students have found this chance to contribute to Valley culture in a meaningful way very invigorating, and we are all learning more about statistics, the arts and our community at the same time,” says Brooks. “Good business research and good artistic performances have a common objective: the continued vitality of our quality of life.”

W. P. CAREY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is one of the top-ranked and largest business schools in the United States. The school is internationally regarded for its research productivity and its distinguished faculty members, including a Nobel Prize winner. Students come from 75 countries and include more than 60 National Merit Scholars. For more information please visit wpcarey.asu.edu and http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/.