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(This post was originally posted on Think It, Do It, Blog It as part of  The MetLife/TCG A-ha! Program. We’re cross-posting on the Circle to better highlight the work of our grantees.)

By Patricia Garza, Center Theatre Group

Isn’t it always the case that you return to the place you know the best to learn new things? Well that is the case for me anyways. I graduated not too long ago from the MFA/MBA Program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Actually me and my good friend Jeremy Ancalade, now Director of Operations at Shakespeare Center Los Angeles were the very first graduates with the joint degree program. This program truly did help me get where I am today.

The MFA/MBA in Theatre Management is a three year full time program (including two summer sessions) offered jointly between the Theatre Arts Department and the Graduate School of Business. In addition to the core courses in theatre management, the MFA/MBA students take an additional 30 units of business courses including finance, accounting, marketing, strategic business management and operations.

Nicki Genovese, the new Head of the Theatre Management program, and Eric Imley, Managing Director of their graduate student theatre company California Repertory Company, both brought up interesting points about what benefits a partnership with a university can have and what drawbacks it has specifically for the university. The benefits could include the support system the students have in a university setting including access they have to research, professors, etc. One of the few drawbacks is the potential for the university to perhaps be “called on” in the solving of a problem for these local theatres that the students get placed in during their internships. Many times if a graduate student who is still learning goes out into the professional environment they are not going to have all the answers right away. So the student then leans back on their university advisors for help and thus the university professors in some sense are “aiding” or “mentoring” these organizations.

Having met with all three of our academic advisors, an emergent idea that has also become clear is the need for an ongoing dialogue to take place between all local academic institutions who offer these types of arts management degrees. We see this as an easy opportunity that CTG could help facilitate and plan on adding that to our To Do List in this process.

I am excited to meet fellow CSULB management candidates and have them participate in our student focus groups. I want my alma mater to succeed and grow and I am so fortunate and thrilled to be able to work with them as a theatre management professional.