21st Century Artist Internships

21st Century Artists Internship Program

Artists must be equipped to speak dynamically about their work and their inspirations, share their creative processes, provide interactive experiences for novice audience members, and transmit themselves and their artistry through any number of transmedia platforms. It is essential that they approach their careers from an entrepreneurial standpoint and build audiences through outreach methods (both “on land” and online) that go beyond pure performance. To address these issues, University Musical Society (UMS) and the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) plan to implement their 21st Century Artist Internship program over the next two academic years. (The project was awarded a Quick Wins grant for its pilot year, which has been highly successful to date.) In each year of the project, four SMTD students intern for at least five weeks between May and August with a professional dance, theater, or music ensemble that UMS will present in Ann Arbor the following season. During the internships, which are tailored to each student’s area of interest, the student researches and prepares contextualizing materials about the company for use at U-M and UMS. The following academic year, the student enrolls in a one-credit independent study. S/he then serves as a resident expert and campus ambassador for the ensemble, offering several activities to their peers on campus and to the community at large. The student interns also promote the artist residency among their peers via social media.

First-hand experiences in the arts offer an engaging, participatory, action-based framework through which students can develop critical thinking skills, explore connections with other core academic subjects, and use their experiences to engage more peers in the arts. However, it is extremely rare for a college or university to offer paid internships in the performing arts, even though the benefits of participatory arts experiences on student learning are well documented. With this project, the University of Michigan can position itself as an innovator and a leader in the field, making it possible for students to have life-changing experiences, regardless of their financial means, and to share those experiences with peers on campus.

Project Team:

Melody Racine, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Voice, School of Music, Theatre & Dance
Jim Leija, Director of Education & Community Engagement, University Musical Society (UMS)