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Guide to a career-focused university education: Fine and Performing Arts

Working Knowledge is back again this year. It's a careers-focused look at the links between undergraduate degrees and employment, arranged by seven fields of study: Engineering and Technology, Arts and Humanities, Education, Sciences and Math, Health and Medical Sciences, Fine and Performing Arts and Business and Commerce. Cassandra Jowett, Danielle Lorenz, Alanna Glass and Vicky Tobianah look at each section in turn.

In 2007, the Canadian arts and culture industries contributed $46 billion to the country's GDP and employed over a million people. However, the average wage in 2010 for those employed in the fine and performing arts was $28,793, which is comparatively lower than most other industries. But not all graduates of the fine and performing arts end up in cultural industries. Indeed, 40% work in sectors such as business and manufacturing. Many of those employed in the fine and performing arts industries are entrepreneurs who set their own hours; thus, their salary varies in range. For example, photographers can make an average of $38,835 per year depending on their skill level, location, and how much they charge per shoot. On the other hand, some graduates can find jobs as art and museum curators whose salaries in large cities can be $88,000 or more.

What Employers Want

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Director of Human Resources

Stratford Festiva

There are approximately seven people working behind the scenes for every performer on stage, which means there are lots of opportunities at the Stratford Festival. We often hire graduates as assistants in design and as apprentices in our production shops including props, wardrobe, crafts and scenic art. We hire arts administration graduates in assistant roles in marketing, fundraising, and administration. Rather than grades, we focus on the candidate's experience through school, community theatre or other professional arts organizations. Extracurricular involvement in theatre is essential and all staff are expected to be flexible, adaptable and have good organizational skills.

michael shamata

Artistic Director

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Gord Belfry Theatre

The Belfry Theatre hires for a wide range of entry-level positions, which include: stage management apprentices, stage crew and technician positions, box office assistants and actors (should the plays in the season include young characters). It is typical for us to seek out a recommendation for a new grad from one of their instructors, or from a theatre professional who has worked with them. Performance and production students can always seek outside experience to enhance the training and experience that they receive at school. A strong sense of theatre etiquette, discipline, and a positive attitude cannot be overestimated when working in a creative and collaborative business.

From class to career

edeline bernal

Motion Designer

CTV, Bell Media

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Bachelor of Design,

York University/Sheridan College, 2010

The current motion designer for CTV discovered design by accident in Grade 10. It was then that Bernal learned that design itself is less about the arts and more about the idea. Now, Bernal's job includes designing and animating graphics that you typically see on television. She's been able to work on the Marilyn Denis Show, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, and even the Royal Wedding. Bernal says she still continues to learn each day. "I learned that 'Career' is just like an extended classroom. You still keep learning, minus the Bs and the A+s."

adam clark

Location Sound Recordist,

Adam Clark Sound

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film), York University, 2011

Adam Clark, 21, intended on being a director in his first year of film studies at York University. It wasn't until he started experimenting with sound editing on one of his first films that he realized that maybe directing wasn't what he wanted to do. "The sound courses and the way they were taught really ignited my imagination and passion," he says. "Since then, I have continued to learn, stretch and hone my skills. I invested my life savings in a state of the art sound kit, which I continue to add to and develop to keep up with industry demands." Currently, Clark works as a location sound recordist and has put his entrepreneurial skills to the test by starting his own company, Adam Clark Sound.

rob kraszewski

Coordinator, Board and Executive Relations, TIFF

Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Studies),

University of Guelph, 2009

Master of Arts (English), University of Guelph, 2010

Rob Kraszewski knew he wanted to have a career in the arts after playing the Cowardly Lion in his Grade 7 production of The Wizard of Oz. "There's something about communicating with people that's always gotten to me," says Kraszewski. It turns out that his theatre degree ended up being far more practical than he had ever imagined. Now working for the Toronto International Film Festival and its board of directors, a typical day for Kraszewski can involve everything from setting up a meeting room to getting a phone call from Francis Ford Coppola to researching how the organization can work to be even more efficient. "It's a truly varied job that keeps me on my toes," he says. If you're looking to make use of your fine arts degree, Kraszewski suggests doing research—the fun kind. "Watch a ton of films. Good films, bad films, funny films, difficult art films, watch as many as possible."

Fine and Performing Arts programs you may not know about...but should:

> Music Administrative Studies

Graduates of this program—the only one of its kind in Canada—can find jobs in the music industry that range from publishing, manufacturing, distribution, production and marketing.

—University of Western Ontario

> Film and Integrated Media

Students craft their own degree by taking classes with technical instruction, history, studio work, documentary, critical analysis, technical instruction and professional practices.

—Emily Carr University, Ontario College of Art and Design University

> Computing and Creative Arts

Students get to not only direct and create music, art, drama and film but also develop the software that allows them to be creative.

—Queen's University

> Visual Arts and the Built Environment

In this joint program between the University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy, students combine art and architecture.

—University of Windsor/University of Detroit Mercy joint degree program

> Bachelor of Design

This renowned joint program offers graduates employment in graphic design, advertising, marketing, and cultural production industries.

—York University/Sheridan College joint degree program

> Theatre and Drama Studies

Combines the training of an acting school with the academic aspects of a drama degree.

—University of Toronto at Mississauga/Sheridan College joint degree program, Concordia University

> Bachelor of Arts in Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Gives students a unique perspective on the traditions that influence individuals, groups and communities.

—Cape Breton University

> Bachelor of Arts in History

Through the public history internship option in Concordia's Honours program, students work as interns in state-of-the-art digital facilities and learn about digital storytelling. During their internship, they might construct art and history museum exhibits, convert images and artifacts into digital presentations at web design companies and ensure the accuracy of period details for film and television production companies.

—Concordia University

> Aboriginal Public Administration

This program is designed to help students understand the unique issues facing native communities across Canada. Graduates can work for government and not-for-profit organizations that are involved with these groups as well as mining, logging, and oil and gas companies that are often located near aboriginal communities.

—University of Saskatchewan

> Rural and Community Studies

Combines courses in rural and community studies with courses from more traditional disciplines such as business, geography, native studies and political science.

—Brandon University

> Agricultural Studies

Students learn about the role of agriculture in two key areas: Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and Development. There is at least one co-op work term and training on advance computer and laboratory equipment.

—University of Lethbridge

> Gerontology

Study Canada's aging population and learn how to improve the quality of life for seniors. Courses cover issues such as end-of-life care, food and nutrition, and mental health. Students also have an opportunity for an internship at a seniors' centre, a seniors' focused agency program or a seniors' residence.

—Laurentian University

Working Knowledge has been created in partnership with TalentEgg, Canada's leading job site and career resource for students and new graduates. TalentEgg features co-op, internship, summer and entry-level job postings from some of Canada's top employers, plus industry guides and career tips in its online magazine, the Career Incubator. Find out more at

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