The entertainment field is the second largest domestic industry, next to the automotive sector, and it is certainly the most competitive in the United States. But like many professions, work is scarce and demanding in some areas (notably for actors); while in other areas job opportunities are growing at an astounding rate. Thousands of jobs are created every year and are filled by graduates of performing arts programs across the nation. GVSU drama students who do well academically have no trouble finding a place for themselves after graduation, and do not find themselves at a disadvantage from having studied at a small liberal arts university like Grand Valley. As recent studies have shown, many creative artists come from small-town and small-college backgrounds removed from large urban centers.
Unlike other GVSU students in business and other professional fields, however, most theatre graduates cannot realistically expect to find work in Michigan, but must anticipate relocating to pursue postgraduate training or career opportunities in the nation's metropolitan centers. Additionally, statistics reveal that most young artists embarking on careers today in motion pictures, theatre, fine arts and music must be prepared to follow the "ten year rule:" it will normally take them about ten years of low-paying work or apprenticeship situations before they find their "voice" and win public recognition. Some of the typical career fields for theatre graduates include the following:
Stage Manager - Theatre Designer - Lighting Technician - Producer - Stage Crew - Facilities Manager - Writer - Costume Assistant - Publicist - Box Office Manager - Teacher - Director - Sound Technician - House Manager - Production CoordinatorSome of our students, after 2-3 years in our program, have decided to delay their graduation and take immediate work in fields which don't require a four-year degree. Carlton Macksam from our acting program, for example, entered broadcasting and works for the NPR station in Blue Lake. Michael Frank, a technical student, left the drama program to become a member of the IATSE union and now works as a union stagehand at Grand Rapids' performing arts center. Wayne Kaatz left the acting program after two years and joined The Groundlings, a professional improv company in Los Angeles.
Other students who completed our program have located more prestigious positions both locally and nationally. Mary Kate Barley became the managing director of a children's theatre company in Chicago after her graduation; Jane Kuipers has stage managed for groups like the San Diego Opera and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival; and Jackie Sweeney is a professional actress in Colorado. Jeff Lieder, a costume designer, is now the head of costume production at the University of Wisconsin; while Max Bush's plays have been produced worldwide, earning him national recognition as one of the United States' most talented youth theatre authors.
Page last modified March 2, 2007