CofC’s Arts and Cultural Management Certificate

Jenna Whetzel worked for a TV network and a housing non-profit before she realized she had a passion for a melding of the arts and the non-profit sector. So she came to Charleston to prepare for a career in theater management and arts advocacy.

She enrolled in College of Charleston’s Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) program because it allowed her to earn a certificate in arts and cultural management (ACRM) as part of its curriculum.

While employed as a SC Arts Alliance fellow, which she secured through the certificate program, Jenna is learning how to run non-profit arts and cultural organizations. Her certificate courses cover organizational leadership, grant writing, program planning, human resources, financial analysis, cloud-based technology for CRM systems, community engagement and advocacy. “These are critical skills that many people working in arts and cultural management desire but may not be sufficiently trained in,” said Dr. Hsin-Ching Wu, Assistant Professor of Arts Management and director of the graduate certificate program.

Whetzel says the dual program will make her a stronger candidate for the career she envisions. “I decided to earn my MPA to build foundational knowledge and be able to earn a higher-level position within the public sector post-graduation,” she said. “I have been a theatre lover for my entire life, so earning an ARCM Graduate Certificate and an MPA simultaneously is a natural fit for me.” Whetzel has written two of her own plays.

College of Charleston has a robust undergraduate arts management program, but the state’s only graduate degree is at Winthrop University. For those who want to maintain positions in the Holy City’s dynamic cultural scene, the certificate is a nice middle ground. It allows students to live locally, remain on the job while they study and get done with the 15-credit program in a year. Wu says most of the students are pursuing either the MPA or a master’s in fine arts (MFA), but one could enroll in the certificate program independently.

With just seven students currently enrolled, the certificate program is “a small, tight-knit network of like-minded students who work together and bond during classwork and beyond,” says Whetzel.

Indeed, another certificate student earned a paid fellowship with the Charleston Symphony.

Unlike certificate programs in other fields, the Arts and Culture Management is not designed to provide a credential that offers entry into the field. But because it equips young professionals to take leadership roles in arts and cultural institutions, its graduates do earn promotions. One recent graduate working at the Halsey Institute of Art was promoted while she was enrolled in the certificate program.

Graduates fan out across the region to fill important positions at Pure Theatre, the Gaillard Auditorium, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, the American Dance Festival and much more. In that way, they help bring joy to citizens across the community.

For the start of the next cohort of the Arts and Cultural Management certificate program, which will start in the fall of 2024, applications are due July 1.

For Jenna Whetzel, the experience has been transformative. “I have years of experience in public sector administration,” she said, “but ARCM courses provided foundational knowledge that will help me excel in future career endeavors.”