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Don’t worry mom and dad: New SFU course teaches how to make money in the arts

Simon Fraser University launched a new course called Creative Entrepreneurship to teach arts grads how to earn a living while pursuing their passion.

SFU students prepare for welcome week.

Simon Fraser University/Facebook

SFU students prepare for welcome week.

If this is your kid’s first week of university, and their enrolment in something like theatre studies or contemporary dance has you worried, SFU professor Howard Jang wants to put your mind at ease.

Jang is launching a new course this fall called Creative Entrepreneurship. The course is open to third and fourth year students in any artistic discipline, and aims to teach aspiring artists how they can turn their passion into something they can realistically make a living with.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity to assist these students. They’ve devoted most of their education to just honing their craft. And now they’re thinking, now what do I do?” Jang said. “They have these ideas. How do they make them happen?”

Before coming to SFU, Jang was the executive director of the Arts Club Theatre Company. In his time there, he saw time and again how many talented artists struggled financially because they didn’t know how to deal with mundane things like developing a business plan, marketing oneself and building a network.

It’s a way of life he’s experienced personally.

“I was a musician, but I never really knew how to build a career. I didn’t know what I was doing. I just kind of did it by chance,” he said.

Jang says that for aspiring artists starting their education, making a viable career is certainly doable.

His advice is to keep your eyes open, don’t pigeonhole yourself, look for opportunities to work with other artists in other media, network and get exposed to all the different opportunities out there.

And if you’re a parent shelling out thousands for an artistic education, the word from Jang is “relax.”

“The course we’re offering is loved by parents,” he said. “They really want [their kids] to be successful. There’s this sense that they have made an investment, and it would be great to get them off on the right foot.”

“If I had this available when I was their age, my parents would have loved that.”

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