The increasing prevalence of university students choosing to pursue degrees within the STEM fields has not come without a cost. The belief that degrees within STEM are more valuable than those in the arts has led to many students choosing education and career paths that do not best suit their passions. The prevailing cultural sentiment has become that education in the arts is a luxury that is unaffordable to anyone seriously aiming to have a successful career. This mistaken belief has led to a denigration or the reputation of the arts. The arts are no longer viewed as a crucial part of the human experience or as a valuable instrument for expression but instead are viewed exclusively under the commercial lens.
Established in 1929, the San Francisco Academy of Art University is a very modern institution with egalitarian traditions. Its founder, Richard S. Stephens, believed students should be admitted to the university regardless of art portfolio. This attitude acts as a strong rebuttal to the criticisms of elitism often leveled at those who pursue the arts. The university’s commitment to providing broad access to arts education helps secure the place of the arts in society and the public consciousness.
The Academy of Art University also has the stated aim of turning students into professional artists and designers. The need for professional artists is frequently understated in favor of STEM fields. The university’s efforts in this regard are helpful to the reputation of the arts in wider society. The professionalization of the arts demonstrates not only the social and cultural value of the arts but also the commercial role they play. It is through this that students are encouraged to pursue their interests in the arts.
A career in the arts is all too often viewed both by students and mentors as an impractical pipe dream. While in an ideal world, individuals would be able to pursue education in the arts for its own sake, as things are, demonstrating the economic value of a degree in the arts is necessary to promote their study. The perceived value of education in the arts must be sufficiently high to warrant the often considerable investment that attending a university often entails. Therefore the existence of programs that demonstrate not only the cultural and societal importance of an arts education but also the financial viability of specializing in the arts is crucial to supporting the arts.
The Academy of Art University has many of these programs, designed to provide students with marketable skills in the areas of their interest. Transforming a passion for the arts into marketable skills is something that the university specializes in. This endeavor promotes the arts in wider society and offers students the ability to work in fields that they have a real passion for. These opportunities to be creative and express artistic talent are all too rare given the frequent dominance of STEM. The efforts of the university demonstrate the value of an education in the arts, both in terms of the marketable skills gained and the intrinsic value of art to society.