The old saying is, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Unless it comes to the arts; then those who can, also teach. Working as an instructor is one of the best ways for artists of all types to supplement their income.
There's a huge number of Madison-area arts-instruction programs, and no list can be complete. Still, a quick survey shows that the recession has hit some harder than others - some perhaps very hard. The Middleton School of Performing won't return calls or emails; it's for sale.
At Children's Theater of Madison, enrollment has been steady, but producing artistic director Roseann Sheridan says, "We have dropped tuition rates from where they were three years ago." The company is finally bumping rates back up this year.
The Young Shakespeare Players also took a hit. "We saw an immediate decline in enrollment after the original market crash in the fall of 2008," says Wendy Vardaman, administrator of programs. Enrollments vary by production, but last summer was good. Still, Vardaman says, "Many people who might have enrolled in two, three or even four [productions] seem to have cut back to one or two."
Client families at Kanopy Dance are pursuing a similar dollar-stretching strategy. Last year, says co-artistic director Lisa Thurrell, "We saw the same interest, if not more - but more requests for partial scholarships, or enrolling for fewer classes per week." Class enrollment has therefore stayed the same, but income is down.
At Madison Ballet, says marketing manager Pat Carter, "Current enrollment for the 2009-10 school year is 288, which is up 13% from this point a year ago." However, because of the way their season runs, they expect that margin to fall by August.
Numbers are down at the Stoughton Center for the Performing Arts, but not too much from 2008-09. They report that their main problem is receiving timely payment.
There's no lack of students at the Monroe Street Fine Arts Center. "I'm still knocking on wood, but so far the recession has not hurt business," says executive director Jen Roth. "The number of music students taking private lessons here has grown from 200 in the fall of 2007 to 322 this semester."
The same is true at Oregon's Academy of Sound. "Our school has actually continued to grow steadily throughout the recession," says director Erin Kaether.
Kaether offers a theory as to the continued health of at least some forms of private art instruction in a faltering economy. "My sense is that during the recession, families have focused inward, making sure their children are able to do things that will benefit them long-term, such as music."