New SAEM Professor an Expert in the Business of the Arts Thursday, October 13, 2011
Maggie Johnson, M.A.M, comes to Point Park with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the arts marketing field. Before taking on her new role as visiting professor and director of community outreach for Point Park's sport, arts and entertainment management program, Johnson was founder and director of Jazzspace, an emerging artist-in-residence program for Pittsburgh's jazz musicians and director of marketing and audience development at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
Her accomplishments at the Pittsburgh Arts Council include creation and implementation of a city-wide marketing campaign that raised more than $1.4 million for 150 nonprofit arts organizations in a 24-hour period. Also a jazz vocalist, Johnson worked in various marketing positions for the Pittsburgh Opera and was a programming consultant for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
In addition, she has worked for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Washington National Opera and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Named a "2010 Woman of Excellence" by the New Pittsburgh Courier, Johnson earned her bachelor's degree from Millikin University and a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University.
What inspired you to be both a jazz vocalist and have arts marketing professional?
I come from a very musical family, my grandma a classically trained vocalist and my mom a pianist, both serving as strong role models. I was blessed with opportunities to attend plays, choral concerts and the symphony at a very young age. From studying violin to auditioning for community theater, I just about did it all. Growing up I always expected to end up in the arts somehow, and like many students, assumed that would be as a performer. After musical theater proved to be more daunting in college than I realized, I settled on sociology as a major with a music minor. My love and talent for jazz singing came about a little later. Only after college did I discover the career focus that incorporates all of my favorite subjects: the arts, marketing, strategic planning and community development. That career was arts management.
Why did you choose to teach at Point Park?
A good friend and colleague of mine, Paige Beal, kept telling me how amazing and energizing it is to interact with these smart, enthusiastic students at Point Park, not to mention the fun of teaching, debating, and learning about your favorite subjects every day. Since arriving on campus, I've been particularly impressed with how focused and professional the students are, and how warm and collegial are the faculty.
What classes do you currently teach?
This semester I am teaching "Introduction to the Sport, Arts and Entertainment Business" and the "First Year Experience." The other part of my job here is director of community outreach for the SAEM program, which means that I'm tasked with helping to maintain and create new connections and opportunities in the professional community. SAEM's partnership with Stage AE is a great example of that.
How would you describe your teaching style?
My teaching style is very discussion-based and interactive. I like to encourage students to do more than just take notes on the material, but also to form their own opinions and become creative problem solvers. This is the bulk of what professional managers do, particularly in the nonprofit world where I come from. I think it's important that students begin thinking this way. When I can, I like to include articles, videos and even unusual activities to enhance our understanding and consider issues from different perspectives.
How do you incorporate your experiences as a musical artist and arts marketing professional into the classes you teach?
My classes are full of personal stories from the arts and culture industry that can serve as good case studies for understanding the industry and exercising problem solving skills. With the professional connections I've built over the years, I look forward to introducing students to local artists and arts managers who are "on the ground" doing some of the most innovative arts marketing in the country.
What job opportunities are there for arts marketing professionals?
There are great opportunities in the arts and culture sector for people who have a strong foundation in business management and marketing. Whether you are interested in working for a very small or very large arts organization, all need talented employees who can help them reach out to and maintain strong connections with their target audiences. Also, depending on the size and type of company, arts marketing professionals may find themselves delving into fundraising as well. Development is a great area for a trained business professional with strong skills in writing, planning and influencing people.
What advice do you have for prospective students considering a degree in SAEM?
Get as much career-related experience as possible - in as many different areas as you're interested in while you're still in school. Point Park's SAEM program is an excellent place to do that because career-related experience is so highly encouraged within the major. Each SAEM faculty member makes it a priority to personally help students connect with companies that might be a good match for their particular interests. From shadowing assignments and real world group projects in the first and second years to multiple internship opportunities before graduation, Point Park's SAEM program positions students as high value prospective employees.