In today’s fast-paced academic jungle it is easy for artistic teaching staff to become lost in the shuffle of teaching, recruiting, committee work, and meetings, yet overlook building up their artistic academic career. As you make your New Year’s resolution, be sure to include growing as an artist and an educator and put priority on your academic brand. Below are six things you can do to help build and grow your academic artistic brand no matter what stage of your career you are in at this time.
1. Engage with your Community
Just like sports, the arts are a school’s forward-facing area. Art shows, concerts, plays, musicals, operas, dance shows, and other events bring the community to the school, because as someone once said, “The public doesn’t come to the school to see the new microscopes.” Something you need to consider is how you are directly engaging with your community. Are you part of the local Arts Council, or a board member with any of the arts organizations in your town/city? Do you speak at local events or host classes/workshops at the local library? These acts of engagement do not require much of your time but can make a significant impact on your social and academic standings.
You do not always have to publish to a peer-reviewed journal or publishing company. Any published writing can help your artistic academic career grow. Think about writing for a local paper or online magazine. It can be something as simple as critiques of films, a technique with watercolors, the best type of reed for saxophone, or even why physical movement is important for all ages. Just write when you have the free time — you may be surprised by who is interested in publishing it.
3. Showcase yourself!
The work/shows you do at your institution are great, but from the point of administration, they are required. Although you may have multiple shows/events a year at work, your CV is going to look repetitive if everything is just at one place. Find ways to present away from your institution. Direct or choreograph for a local company, have a showing at a local gallery, perform somewhere away from campus, work with a local company to present your work, and work out of state if you can during the extended breaks. The more outside work you can add to your CV each year, the better looking you become to current or potential administration, and it helps you build and define your brand.
4. Think outside the box.
Are you able to suggest or create new courses? If so, there are options you can look at that will both increase your brand and improve your career. Could you offer a weekend or evening class that will better fit adult learners who have day jobs, or create a community outreach group such as a choir or improv class? Can you start a club for painting or sculpture? Could you develop classes for a micro-credential certification in the arts that will benefit working professionals? Another thing to think about is working with other departments. How can you create either classes or certificates/degrees that enhance one another? Can art and theatre work together for scenic painting? Can music and film team up for soundtracks and scoring? Can English, music, film, and theatre work together in creating a writing for the performing arts degree or certificate? This looks great not only to administration, but on your CV, demonstrating your creativeness and willingness to work outside of your area. The opportunities are endless if you are willing to put the time in and focus on what you can offer that others cannot.
5. Update your stuff, all of it!
None of the work you do will matter unless you are updating your CV on the regular, and by regular, I mean at least monthly. However, your CV is not the only thing you need to be thinking about. We all have social media of some kind. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, or even just a website, we all have a way to show what we are doing. If you do not, then I highly suggest you get started on that right now, especially if you are wanting to build a brand. Remember: You are your own marketing agent and publicist. No one’s going to do the work for you. If you put the work in, and it is something you are proud of, share it and show it off!
6. Build Relationships
Building relationships is the single most important thing you can do as someone looking to build their brand and their academic career. Conferences are a staple in the academic community, and most institutions can help you cover the cost of attending. Your participation can count towards service education, skill building, and most importantly — connection building. The more relationships you have, the stronger your network. The stronger your network, the stronger your brand, and the stronger your brand, the stronger your academic career. Find mentors, be a mentor, make connections.
Hopefully, this list contains elements you feel you can add into your schedule to break the rut and improve your outlook. Do not let this list be intimidating. If you are not already doing a couple of these now, then pick one, and start with what you can do. Once you have done it, or are doing it more regularly, pick another one. If you have not been doing any of these yet, immediately start with numbers five and six. Those are the easiest ones to begin with and will set the pace for building your brand and your career. I hope this article provides you with a bit of encouragement and ideas for your journey. Do you have other suggestions? If so, comment on this article or shout out to me at @baldmanfighting. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, and my website baldmanfighting.com.
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