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SMU professor showcases SMU’s arts entrepreneurship program

Event headquarters for the Dallas Festival of Ideas. Photo credit: John McCarthy
The Dallas Festival of Ideas
Event headquarters for the Dallas Festival of Ideas. Photo credit: John McCarthy

Jim Hart, the award-winning director of arts entrepreneurship at Meadows School of the Arts, showcased his teaching technique that proves you can learn a lot through fun and games.

Saturday afternoon at The Dallas Festival of Ideas, Hart gave insight into his career and how it influenced the development of the arts entrepreneurship program’s curriculum and his teaching styles.

“Our goal is for the term starving artist to disappear…waiting tables and taking auditions is not a professional strategy on which to build a career,” Meadows School of the Arts Dean Sean Holland said.

Hart went to SMU, which taught him how to be and think like an artist, and then continued onto the Yale School of Drama. After graduating, he realized that he could create works of art and compete at that level, but didn’t know how to survive from his art much less his creativity, which led him to self producing.

“Going from a job seeker to a job giver is a very empowering process because you’re contributing greatly. You’re creating jobs not just for yourself but for other people,” Hart said.

Arts Entrepreneurship Forum
Arts entrepreneurship forum Q-and-A. Photo credit: John McCarthy

According to Hart, combining the arts with the business of entrepreneurship was the interesting part. The big question was how to get artists inspired to study arts entrepreneurship.

“Well we can either give them their good medicine, the conventional business training, which they flea from traditionally, or we can appeal to their sensibilities. What are their sensibilities? Artists love to play,” Hart said.

In order to appeal to artists, Hart developed a series of activities and games in order to get students to think and evaluate how to come up with ideas and appeal to chosen customer bases and learn skills in primary market research, networking, articulating traction and attracting capital.

“Hart’s teaching style is a great way to get people involved and engaged in learning about things that don’t necessarily appeal to them. I am definitely a more creative person and visual learner, so these games sound like a great teaching tool,” attendee Kimberlee Staffieri said.

There are approximately 100 colleges and universities today that are developing programs in arts entrepreneurship, including SMU. Hart’s games can be viewed at

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