As Boston's theaters look ahead to an uncertain future, college students are getting a chance to lend their voice to a possible solution.
For years, Boston has struggled with a surplus of theaters, too few acts, and not enough interest. This year, Berklee's Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship partnered with Citi Performing Arts Center to launch a 15-week course called "Performing Arts Centers: Sustaining Relevancy, Making an Impact."
"Wouldn't it be interesting if we could actually use seniors who are in business management and the entertainment business to actually help us think about how we might solve some of the problems we're facing in the City of Boston right now?" said Joe Spaulding, President and CEO of Citi Performing Arts Center.
Students are immersed in a discussion-based setting with an impressive backdrop: the Wang Theatre. They have the chance to learn alongside business leaders and weigh in on possible solutions.
"Our hypotheticals are their histories", said Berklee senior Brooke Adams. "So if we point out something or we come out with an idea, they can either say, 'Oh, that's great, it's something new, it's fresh.' Or, 'We've already tried that and this is the problems we faced.'"
"Here, we're trying to tackle a huge problem that uses that entrepreneurial mindset," said Matt Valcourt, also a senior.
That mindset is addressing key issues, from how to create dedicated revenue sources to cultivating a vibrant arts scene.
"It goes beyond just learning how to market a show or get the audience for a show," said Allen Bargfrede, Associate Professor of Music Business at Berklee and Executive Director of Rethink Music. "It's more about building a creative community within the Boston market that wants to go participate at concerts or plays or ballets or get involved in the performing arts scene."
"The more discussion we have, the better off and more likely maybe we'll succeed," Spaulding said.
Students have also discussed the need for Massachusetts to establish a cultural office that pushes the performing arts scene, perhaps similar to how the state set up a tax credit program to grow its film industry.