Steven J. Tepper is the dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, the nation’s largest, comprehensive design and arts school at a research university. . He was the keynote speaker at the annual luncheon today of the Metropolitan Atlanta Art Fund.
He had some provocative data to share. He was quoting from SNAAP.
His context was the explosion of arts non-for-profits – from 300 in the 1950’s to over 130,000 today.
Dr. Tepper is convinced that education in the arts is poorly understood, and has data to prove it. Too many people, he says, are skeptical about the careers that are possible from an arts education. In fact, many of the competencies developed in an arts education are precisely what employers in the 21st century are looking for – especially creativity. His conclusions:
– “The MFA is the new MBA”
– “The ‘Copyright Industries’ are booming…..they are 3X the size of the construction industry”.
– “the 21st century needs ‘design thinking”.
After the luncheon, I looked him up at ASU. Here is what he has to say – in his own words:
Welcome to the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the nation, located within a dynamic 21st-century research university.
With 4,700 students, more than 675 faculty and faculty associates, 135 degrees and a tradition of top-ranked programs, we are committed to redefining the 21st-century design and arts school. Our college is built on a combination of disciplines unlike any other program in the nation, comprising schools of art; arts, media + engineering; design; film, dance and theatre; and music; as well as the ASU Art Museum.
The Institute is dedicated to the following design principles:
Creativity is a core 21st-century competency. Our graduates develop the ability to be generative and enterprising, work collaboratively within and across artistic fields, and generate non-routine solutions to complex problems. With this broad exposure to creative thinking and problem solving, our graduates are well prepared to lead in every arena of our economy, society and culture.
Design and the arts are critical resources for transforming our society. Artists must be embedded in their communities and dedicate their creative energy and talent to building, reimagining and sustaining our world. Design and the arts must be socially relevant and never viewed as extras or as grace notes. The Herberger Institute is committed to placing artists and arts-trained graduates at the center of public life.
The Herberger Institute is committed to enterprise and entrepreneurship. For most college graduates today, the future of work is unpredictable, non-linear and constantly evolving. A recent study found that 47 percent of current occupations will likely not exist in the next few decades. At the Herberger Institute, our faculty, students and graduates are inventing the jobs and the businesses of the future; reimagining how art and culture gets made and distributed; and coming up with new platforms and technology for the exchange of culture and the enrichment of the human experience. The legendary author and expert on city life Jane Jacobs talks about the abundance of “squelchers” — parents, educators, managers and leaders who tend to say no to new ideas. At the Herberger Institute, there are no squelchers. We embrace the cardinal rule of improvisation — always say: “Yes, and…”
Every person, regardless of social background, deserves an equal chance to help tell our nation’s and our world’s stories. Our creative expression defines who we are, what we aspire to and how we hope to live together. At the Herberger Institute, we are committed to projecting all voices – to providing an affordable education to every student who has the talent and the desire to boldly add their creative voice to the world’s evolving story.
Effectiveness requires excellence. We know that our ability to solve problems, build enterprises and create compelling and socially relevant design and art requires high levels of mastery. By being the best in our chosen fields, we can stretch ourselves and our talents to make a difference in the world.
Recently, as part of a weekly installation on campus, a Herberger Institute student hand-lettered the slogan “Here’s to the dreamers and the doers” in chalk on an outdoor blackboard, and we were able to use this for the incoming freshman class t-shirt. Whether you are an architect, designer, artist, performer, filmmaker, media engineer or creative scholar, the Herberger Institute is a place to dream. But unlike the misrepresentation of the artist and scholar as lost in a cloud, our faculty and students “make stuff happen” and leave their well-chiseled mark on the world. Come tour our concert and performance halls, art and design studios, exhibition spaces, dance studios, scene shops, classrooms, clinics and digital culture labs, and you will see the power of dreamers and doers.
If you are reading this message, you are implicated as a potential collaborator. Bring us your talents, your ideas and your passion — we will dream and do great things together.
Steven J. Tepper
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
Arizona State University