The arts of business

(Edmonton) Two new courses at the Alberta School of Business will contribute towards changing a perception of Alberta, enhance the province’s culture and meet a dire need, say the professors offering them.
Roy Suddaby, University of Alberta business professor who developed an arts management MBA course, says his course will help correct a popular misconception about Alberta.
“Having this course here in Alberta is important to dispel this public image that people have of Albertans as being totally consumed by the oil economy,” Suddaby says. “That simply isn’t true.”
Suddaby says the number of opportunities that promote cultural engagements, including small play productions, access to the symphony and art galleries, all tell a different story about Alberta’s cultural vibrancy.
“Alberta is every bit as prominent in those cultural opportunities as you would see in Eastern Canada," said Suddaby. "My hope is that this course, being one of the first courses at this level west of Toronto, will serve to change the cultural image of Alberta and Western Canada. “
Typical MBA courses are often taken by engineers, for example, who’ve risen to a position that requires them to become managers. And that tradition could have helped create a myth about business classes that this course will help dispel, Suddaby says.
“We’ve created this false dichotomy between business and society as though these are somehow different worlds in the same way we’ve created this difference between business and arts, as though they’re two different things,” he said. “But the reality is that they aren’t and they never have been, and you see a lot of individuals who move fluidly between these two worlds.”
Among those individuals are students to the course, some of whom, along with traditional students, include accomplished artists. Suddaby says the art component of the course holds that business has a lot to learn from the arts and that managers with some of the province’s elite institutions have expressed need for a course like arts management. The university is now
receiving support from the Rosza Foundation, a philanthropic arts advocacy group, for the course.
“The foundation has been extremely helpful. They’ve given us access to high-level arts administrators in Alberta to come into the classroom and share their expertise,” he says. “Regular business folks could study arts organizations and find out how is it that they have managed to attract very talented individuals who would work very hard and often for very little money.”
In the other course, Culture and Creativity from Music and Business Perspectives, created by U of A music professor Guillaume Tardif, students try to meet questions like those by posing even more queries.
“We often relate music with emotions, and it is valuable to explore and celebrate these emotions that we associate with culture and creativity," says Tardif.
Tardif’s course, which is sponsored by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study, attracts MBA and music students. “Along with touching on musical basics, such as rhythm, form, counterpoint and harmonic systems, we review some basic business concepts related to accounting, entrepreneurship, governance, strategy, information technology, and many more. We find remarkable parallels and intersections between music, the arts and business."