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Home » Industry » How One Canadian University Is Bridging the Creative and Business Divide
patch twaddle

Patch Twaddle

Instructor, AM&E Program at the Schulich School of Business

Kristian Roberts hs

Kristian Roberts

Guest Lecturer, AM&E Program

lisa de wilde

Lisa de Wilde

Bell Media Professor of Media Management at the Schulich School of Business

Our increasingly digital world makes it easy for creators to create content and share it with a global audience. While this creates fantastic opportunities, it also means an overabundance of content and strong competition for attention. Creators are realizing that to stand out and get that competitive edge, a broad skill set is required.

York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, and the Schulich School of Business have forged a nearly 50-year unique partnership that allows creators to specialize in their craft, while gaining critical business skills – the Arts, Media and Entertainment Management (AM&E) Program. This full-time, three-year combined MBA and Master of Fine Arts or Master of Arts program provides a deep and current understanding of management issues and practices across a spectrum from broadcasting, digital and social media industries to not-for-profit arts and social enterprise organizations. Students will achieve a thorough and current understanding of the business of creative industries, enabling them to support and advance their careers.

Additionally, AM&E offers a two-year graduate diploma in Arts, Media, and Entertainment Management earned concurrently with the Master of Business Administration. Like the three-year program, this diploma ensures students are equipped with specialized knowledge and leadership skills needed to gain a competitive advantage in creative industries.

Blending the creative with business contributes to success

“A business school can feel unfamiliar to creators because it seems like there’s a conflict between artistic and cultural objectives and businesses objectives,” says Patch Twaddle, a part-time Faculty Instructor at the AM&E Program at the Schulich School of Business and a former student of the program. “By fusing the two, creativity and artistry are able to flourish.”

Twaddle adds that a huge benefit of blending business skills with the creative is gaining a deeper understanding of the ecosystems creators work in. This is important because the industry is complex and competitive. “Even non-profit arts organizations have business objectives,” he says. “It’s not always about making money, but knowing how to market — find and engage audiences — apply for grants, and understanding your creative rights is empowering for artists.”

Kristian Roberts is a frequent guest lecturer at the AM&E Program, as well as the Co-CEO and Managing Partner at Nordicity, a leading global consulting firm. He’s an economist by training but has worked in television and video game production and concedes that creators need to shift their mindset. “It’s not about business being pushed on them, but being comfortable with the language of business and gaining skills to create sustainable art practices,” he says.

The future of the creative workforce

The creative arts can often seem like solitary pursuits, but backing up those artists and content creators is a cast of behind-the-scenes roles. Many people are unaware of the types of creative careers that are available. It’s this growing need to support and sustain the cultural sector that inspired Ontario Creates and VICE Media group to produce The Future of the Creative Workforce report.

The report found that many young people want to work in creative industries, not for fame or public recognition, but to satisfy creative passions. Increasingly, these exciting behind-the-scenes jobs entail working across different types of projects and teams, requiring a broad skillset. Skills, such as creativity, adaptability, flexibility, problem-solving, and organization are necessary for success.

Mentors play a leading role

We live in a world where information and creative content are at our fingertips. But knowing how to tap into your creative side and sustaining a creative career, so that you can make an impact on the world by creating engaging content is what will set you apart.

“I don’t think there is another program in Canada that’s as specialized as this one,” says Lisa de Wilde, Bell Media Professor of Media Management at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “In addition to giving people the foundational business skills of an MBA, students gain specialized skills in their creative discipline. This allows creators to be successful in this changing digital world.”

She adds that AM&E’s executive mentoring experience and faculty that are practitioners give students the opportunity to see business in action.

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