Art schools that convince students only to practice are being unrealistic and unethical. We have significantly more students (more than one million in the U.S. alone) than we have institutional jobs. Meadows is one of the first to create a program to support students in becoming entrepreneurs – launching a gallery, creating a dance company, running a piano studio, etc. Virtually all artists are freelancers who work locally, and very few are famous. The arts are not about celebrity. The paradigm for measuring success is different at Meadows. We have the courage to be the first arts school in the country to talk about job placement rates. We want our alumni to be making a living practicing their craft, and we are committed to giving them the tools to do so, even in a volatile economic climate.
At SMU Meadows School of the Arts, we are working to “start a movement.” With the support of the Meadows Foundation, we have focused on recruitment, innovation, entrepreneurship, and challenging students to make an impact, all of which are integrated.
We have recruited exceptional faculty including Grammy-winning musician Matt Albert, renowned theatre director and former dean of the Yale School of Drama Stan Wojewodski, artists Brittany Ransom and Mary Walling Blackburn, Zannie Voss, Jim Hart (one of the first professors of arts entrepreneurship in the world), noted choreographer Millicent Johnnie, and many others. Through our Meadows Scholars initiative, a scholarship program that includes a unique travel/research stipend funded by the Meadows Foundation, we have raised the level of artistic talent, increased diversity, and raised academic standards by over 100 SAT points.
We are continuing to launch new initiatives that impact our local arts community and the nation. This year we created the National Center for Arts Research, which will analyze the largest database of arts research ever assembled and provide insights to help arts and cultural organizations nationwide not only survive but thrive.
We are grateful for the many benefits offered by Dallas and continue to look for ways to give back and help support the cultural life of the city. In 2009 we transformed the Meadows Award into the Meadows Prize, bringing emerging artists to Dallas to create new work, ideas, and projects. We are thrilled to see the far-reaching effects of some of the initiatives begun through the prize. For example, our 2010 prize recipient, Will Power, noted playwright and performer, became a full-time artist-in-residence at Meadows and wrote a new musical, Stagger Lee, which has been performed at the Dallas Theater Center since 2014.
The Meadows Foundation has been critical to the success of the Meadows School of the Arts not only this year, but for more than four decades of partnership. We are incredibly grateful for their support.