On stage and off: Midland offers a modern take on Performing Arts Degrees

Midland University’s B.A. in Arts Management has been redesigned for the modern arts industry.

“We are relentlessly in pursuit of making sure our graduates are relevant to the marketplace they enter after graduation. This applies to business, healthcare, education, and the performing arts world as well,” said Director of Performing Arts, Anne Sorensen-Wang. “This is the performing arts degree that prepares students for their future.”

The revised curriculum is designed to produce graduates with a well rounded and integrated set of skills to be successful in a variety of performing arts careers.

“Pursuing an Arts Management major prepares individuals to explore their own performance careers, but also to manage arts organizations, companies, and facilities. Students who select this major are attractive to a wide range of businesses. Majors combine the creativity, collaboration, and confidence that is cultivated by involvement in the arts with industry-specific business skills and knowledge to become individuals who are highly marketable in the business and performance world. So if you want to be an actor, we grow those skills and make sure you are ready to enter into that field with a killer performance resume, but we also equip them with a marketable professional resume as well. These students will be able to graduate and get jobs in their field right off the bat.”

“Each month we bring in industry professionals for seminars on different careers, workshops, and guest artist experiences. Every presenter, when they learn about our Arts Management degree, says, “Gee, I wish I had had that opportunity when I was in college.”

New courses being offered to majors include classes such as Entrepreneurship, Non-Profit Law, Arts Technology, and Development & Grant Writing. To increase career preparedness, every student will be encouraged to complete an outside internship in the career field they are hoping to pursue. In addition to these classes, students will take performance-based classes to hone their artistic skills. Opportunities to complete and an additional endorsement in Theatre, and a certificate in Non-Profit Management add to the attractiveness of the degree.

“Students should be prepared to make art and manage art.”

“Pitch Perfect” music director returns to Midland University for annual a cappella festival

Deke Sharon is on a mission to improve the world through singing.

Returning for the second a cappella day of Midland University’s tenth annual Festival of the Arts, the “father of contemporary a cappella,” known for his work as musical director and arranger of the “Pitch Perfect” movies, the NBC series, “The Sing Off,” and founder of the ICAA, will be back to share his message on Saturday, Feb. 22nd.

“I want everybody to know that singing is powerful, that it’s fun, and that it’s something you should do through your entire life,” Sharon said last year, moments before leading Midland’s a cappella choirs and students from three Nebraska high schools in a performance of one of his arrangements.

“For me, my life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony,” Sharon said. “I truly believe that our nation, and, in a lot of ways, our world is broken. People feel alone; they feel isolated. There are these deep divisions in our country that are getting deeper. I feel like I have the fix. I feel like I have this tool - this incredible thing that people did throughout human history and from prehistoric times, and that is singing together.”

Launched last year, A Cappella Day was designed to bring students together to compete in a celebration of song. After the huge success of the day, Sharon asked to return again this year. Sharon will lead a group of three judges who provide feedback and rate local high school groups.

Last year, Midland honored one performer from each group, awarding $75,000 in vocal scholarships to students who would choose to continue their love for a cappella in college.

Sharon sees the opportunity to participate in the performing arts as a way to build critical life skills. “When you’re really creating great art – in any of the performing arts – you’re working on different aspects of your life,” Sharon said. “You can do math alone. You can create science alone in the lab. With the performing arts, you’re doing something collaboratively. You’re understanding your own and other people’s emotions. You’re learning how to listen. You’re learning how the sum of the parts is bigger than any one individual. These are lessons and messages that are so impactful on anyone’s education and what they go on to do with their life.”

“Bringing exceptional educational experiences to our students is the pride of the performing arts,” said Assistant Director of Performing Arts, Kyle Thomas. “Just because we are a small school does not mean that the opportunities we provide to our students are small.”

Through events like Festival of the Arts, Midland University students are able to showcase their talents, enhance their college experience, and connect with the industry they are hoping to work in. Midland’s student-centric Performing Arts program provides students from all academic programs opportunities to grow, learn, collaborate, and live out their passions. Sharon’s visit was made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Through support from the university and the Midland Performing Arts Society, the performing arts are hoping to continue to bring world-class talent to Fremont to enrich students’ experiences.

“This is a great program. It’s a great school,” Sharon said. “I think this wonderful event is going to grow and grow to where they won’t even know what to do with it.”