A background in both performing arts management and arts policy allows Dr. Jerome Socolof to cover a very broad range of topics in the classes he teaches. “If my students want to know about the planning process for live events, I can speak to that from personal experience. If they want to know about the history of the National Endowment for the Arts, I can talk them through that from its inception to the present,” he said.
Two things inspired Socolof to become an arts management educator – a love of the field and the industry’s need for arts managers who have studied and trained specifically to hold those positions. Coupled with the opportunity to encourage new and diverse voices in the field, “The decision to teach rather than practice was an easy one,” he said.
Trained as a vocalist as an undergraduate student, Socolof earned his bachelor’s degree in music business at SUNY-Potsdam. “That’s actually how I got my first taste of arts management: one of my professors helped set me up with a summer internship with an opera company,” he said.
Later, at Ohio State University in Cleveland, Ohio, “I thought that I would go and earn a master’s degree in the field, but it was the policy component which really grabbed me once I was there,” Socolof said. His master’s degree in arts policy and administration and his Ph.D in art education afforded him the chance to delve into the public policy aspects of the arts.
Socolof hopes that his students come away from his classes with the understanding that they can create anything they can imagine, even if nothing like what they envision yet exists. “We are creative people working in a field built on creation, and I want to help give my students the tools to make it happen.”