Gary Beckman has been a pivotal and influential figure in his field for over a decade.
Beckman of the arts entrepreneurship program, based in the Department of Music, is the most frequently cited researcher in arts entrepreneurship, and his dedication to constant growth and innovation helped shape the future of the emerging field.
While pursuing his doctoral degree in musicology at the University of Texas at Austin, Beckman began to notice a trend amongst his fellow graduate and undergraduate students. “There was so much great art being created, but most students did not have a knack for the financial side of things,” said Beckman. This realization led him to begin exploring opportunities to marry the two worlds. “I wanted to help artists succeed, and help get some better art into the world.”
After completing his Ph.D., Beckman began teaching at the University of South Carolina’s School of Music where he helped to found the first music entrepreneurship minor in the country. In 2011, when he started teaching at NC State, he worked to develop the nation’s second arts entrepreneurship minor. The minor was fully approved and began enrolling students in 2012. Even before the development of the minor was fully complete, Beckman noted students were eager to participate. The minor helps emerging arts entrepreneurs leverage a broad knowledge base to create successful arts ventures. The innovative classroom experience in combination with a focus on informed decision-making and a cutting-edge curriculum helps to ensure the minor is not only the most comprehensive program of its kind in the country but the largest with over sixty active students participating.
Beckman’s impact on the field of arts entrepreneurship extends beyond the Wolfpack community as well. He edited the field’s first essay collection Disciplining the Arts: Teaching Entrepreneurship in Context, co-founded and co-edited the first academic journal on arts entrepreneurship education, and founded and serves as executive editor for several industry journals. Beckman also helped to co-found the field’s only professional organization, the Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education (SAEE) in 2014 with the goal of advancing formal training and high educational standards for arts entrepreneurship education.
In October at its fifth national conference, SAEE announced that it was naming its research award after Beckman. The Gary D. Beckman Research Award in Arts Entrepreneurship is the top scholarly research award in the emerging field. President of SAEE Josef Hanson noted that the society, “sought to recognize pioneering research that embodied his rigorous, thought-provoking approach,” in naming the award in Beckman’s honor. When asked for his reaction to receiving the honor, Beckman stated, “I’m still in shock; as a graduate student I had never imagined my research would be this beneficial.” However, his colleagues like NC State arts entrepreneurship professor Kathryn Brown were not as surprised by the honor. “I have always been inspired by his stewardship of knowledge, and his ability to combine his professional and life experiences with his academic background in order to help others,” Brown said. Regarding his contributions to the NC State community, Brown further notes, “Dr. Beckman has done a beautiful job designing a curriculum that allows us to teach entrepreneurship in an arts context, specifically.”
At the same conference in October, two Miami University faculty members, Todd Stuart and Willie Caldwell, were the first to be awarded the SAEE Gary D. Beckman Research Award in Arts Entrepreneurship for their work developing an arts management and entrepreneurship curriculum at Miami University.
Currently, Beckman is working on writing a new textbook, which will be the third in the arts entrepreneurship field. He has also been working to develop his own pedagogical approach to decision making in the arts known as the entrepreneurial ecology of the arts. Beckman has dedicated his teaching career to trying new approaches and integrating what works into his classroom. Developing his pedagogy has required him to become well versed in business research as well as the ever-changing arts industry in order to better understand the needs of his students and the entrepreneurial world.
Beckman encourages students to think and learn broadly and adds, “in many respects the broader view you have of how the arts and larger economy works, the more prepared you are to make better decisions.” Along these lines, he appreciates the diversity of majors within the arts entrepreneurship minor, noting he has students from every college within NC State. Beckman finds this inspiring as he credits his students as his driving force to do more in the field. For students interested in learning more about arts entrepreneurship as a field of study, they are encouraged to sign up for the minor or consider enrolling in introductory classes such as EMA 110 Introduction to Arts Entrepreneurship or EMA 365 Foundations in Arts Entrepreneurship. These classes focus on introducing students to the field and providing them with hands-on experiences with marketing and other aspects of the industry.