The Business of Art: Earning a Living as an Artist


Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Taught by

music composition
public and nonprofit administration, public policy, urban studies

This program is a tour of social forces that shape our arts communities, including cultural, organizational, managerial, financial and historical. By examining art, music and theatre worlds, we will discover structures that help foster vibrant artistic communities. We will meet business and nonprofit leaders (often artists themselves) who bring artists and art lovers together. Artistic entrepreneurs with business savvy, as we will see, often make the art world go 'round.

The program is designed for students with a strong interest in making a living as an artist, musician or performer, operating in the nonprofit art world, or making a career in creative industries, and bridging the conventional gaps between creativity, business sense and social engagement. Each quarter's work will include an optional week of travel and study an art center in the United States: to New York City during the fall and Los Angeles during the winter. Students unable to travel to these cities can pursue related studies in Seattle and Portland.

The program will combine studies of the arts, business and nonprofit administration and management through a rich mix of critical and creative projects, such as analyzing a local arts business or nonprofit organization. An artist who understands the principles of a well-run business and can deal effectively with contracts, grants and negotiations, we'll find, is likely to gain more artistic and professional freedom. Business people who understand and care about the arts, we'll discover, can build careers that include doing good as well as doing well. Organizations built around art forms can help support local cultures and create sustainable manufacturing ventures, too.

The nonprofit arts community encompasses a broad range of artistic endeavors such as summer arts camps and festivals, art and music therapy, community theaters, arts foundations and after-school arts programs. For-profit and nonprofit organizations are different, and we want to make sure students gain knowledge of the vast range of ways they can make a living in and around the arts.

By the end of the program we expect you to be able to think creatively about ways to connect your own artistic and wage earning work, have an impact on organizations in communities you care about, acquire first-hand knowledge of a diversity of successful arts initiatives, and communicate effectively in the language of business and nonprofit administration.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

business, finance, economics, non-profit management, performing arts, visual arts and arts management.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$1,700 in fall and winter quarters for travel to New York City (fall) and Los Angeles (winter) for a total of $3,400 for both trips.  The trip may be optional upon consultation with faculty.


Date Revision
January 11th, 2013 Class level changed.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 75


Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 10154
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 10553

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Accepting New Students


We welcome new students, in winter, and will start with some review of our fall work. Please read all of the book, "The Profitable Artist" (available on reserve at the library and for sale at the bookstore--219 pages). Reading this book will help you catch up with our work from the fall! 

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 20143
So - Sr (1-16 credits): 20344

Go to to register for this program.

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