Seventy-five alumni, graduating students, faculty, advisory board members and staff gathered to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Schulich School of Business MBA Program in Arts & Media Administration May 5 and to honour the program’s founders – Jim Gillies, Paul Schafer, Brian Dixon and Joe Green. Nostalgia was combined with debate, discussion and reminiscences by Schafer and Green, and by members of the first arts management class, including Ralph Zimmerman and Marc Boyman.
Schafer’s history of the events leading up to the creation of the program and its early years – the cover article in this year’s newsletter – which chronicles the history of the program and its first few years, provided a launching point for the discussion. As Schafer noted, in 1969 the York University MBA Program in Arts Management was the only program in North America to offer a curriculum which focused on not only the business knowledge and skill sets required for managing in the cultural sector, but also on the importance of cultural policy for Canadian arts managers. Forty-five years, later the program remains unique in English Canada.
The following programs are equally as unique: the MBA/MA and MFA programs in the visual arts, art history and curatorial studies, dance, music, theatre and film studies and film production (created in 1998 and offered in conjunction with York’s Faculty of Fine Arts). It was also a time to celebrate the creation of four new prizes for arts and media students named after the program’s founders, who started a program that now has alumni working in every field in the arts and cultural sector.
Joyce Zemans, ARTM program director, announced the Brian Dixon Founder’s Prize; the James Gillies Founder’s Prize; the Joe Green Founder’s Prize; and the Paul Schafer Founder’s Prize, to honour their commitment, dedication and the difference they have made in the lives, not only of managers, but of artists in society as a whole. With more than four decades of current and former faculty members at the event, along with the program’s advisory committee and, of course, program coordinator Kathleen Welsby, there were plenty of opportunities to catch up, share memories and exchange ideas. One alum wrote the next morning to say it was a great evening and wonderful to see “so many successful and talented arts administrators in one room.”