New UTC Concentration to Teach Theatre Majors the Art of Self Promotion

A collaboration between the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Performing Arts department and the Gary W. Rollins College of Business will educate theatre majors on treating themselves as their own business.

Starting during the upcoming fall semester, a new concentration—theatre entrepreneurship—will give students the concepts and tools to see themselves as a product to be sold.

“You’ve got to be able to be your own salesman. You have to treat yourself as your own business,” said Steve Ray, associate head of the UTC Department of Performing Arts. “A lot of great actors don’t get work because they’re not a good salesman for themselves. They just think the world owes them.”

Theatre entrepreneurship doesn’t focus only on students who want to stand in front of an audience. It’s also for those seeking a career in behind-the-scenes work, such as managing a theater, symphony, art gallery or museum; set and costume design; stage lighting; knowing how to write grants; selling tickets; and negotiating contracts.

The UTC Department of Political Science and Public Service also is part of the concentration with courses on the legal and ethical responsibilities of nonprofit organizations—which theater companies often are—and navigating the ins and outs of theater and civic organizations.

“The concentration covers a wide range of options for students, but it really does prepare them for the real world,” Ray said.