Joseph Nathan Cohen

Department of Sociology, CUNY Queens College, New York, NY

Rachel Skaggs (Ohio State) on Creating Creators

This livestream was produced as part of the QPL Learning Series project.

Original Video Description

Do you dream of becoming a professional artist or content creator? What do aspiring professional creators need to know? This edition of the Queens Podcast Lab’s Learning Series sits down with Rachel Skaggs, Lawrence, and Isabel Barnett Assistant Professor of Arts Management at the Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise at the Ohio State University. We will discuss how this innovative program trains artists to succeed in art markets, the major challenges artists face in running an arts enterprise, and how the arts community has navigated COVID.

Transcription (Auto-Generated)

are live welcome everybody to the queen’s podcast learning seminar queen’s podcast labs learning seminar my name is joseph cohen i’m from the sociology department and i’m joined as usual by my colleague jason tuga from english co-director of the queen’s podcast lab and uh we have a very uh special guest from media studies amy herzog welcome amy today we have the good fortune to be sitting down with one of my favorite young sociologists of culture rachel skaggs from the ohio state university’s barnett center for integrated arts and enterprise rachel is a great researcher i love her work on the sociology of culture you might know her from some of the episodes uh from interviews in the annex that we’ve done and obviously you’d know her from her uh work when we last met with rachel she was studying the country music industry we spoke a few years ago and we’re going to be delving into her new sociology work next week on an episode of the annex sociology podcast this week though we’re going to delve into the more applied side of what rachel is doing and rachel with her colleagues out at the barnett center it’s a project that merits our attention at queen’s college it addresses some of the goals that the school has of developing its arts and business programming it really does both and it seems quite similar to the collaboration that’s been developing between sociology english and media studies through the queen’s podcast lab beyond that rachel is in an applied space that’s a very very interesting opportunity for sociologists with interests in culture digital markets organizations it’s a space where we can help real world people do real world things and it’s it’s a very exciting uh opportunity or i think it’s a very exciting path that rachel’s taking in her career you know for in a space that i think we often hear there’s there’s no no place for jobs and no no room for applied stuff rachel’s showing us totally different so without any further delay welcome rachel it’s great to see you Rachel Skaggs again thank you i’m really glad to be here and glad to get to talk shop about um some of this other work that really is applied facets of the research that i do that’s driven by the belief that artists can have sustainable careers i think it’s a little cliche but this idea of the starving artist um i think there are ways around that um and that’s what i hope to push forward in my research and in this kind of more applied setting of you know service and teaching um and curriculum development yeah you know i i see this type of work as pushing back against the fatalistic view i think there’s a lot of people who say platform capitalism is turning all creation into piece work and nobody can be an artist and i guess that’s true when you think about like there might not be journalism jobs for paid staff writing jobs in journalism but there’s a lot of opportunity out there The Barnett Center and we’re gonna we’re gonna jump into it it’s very very exciting maybe before we start rachel can you tell us about the barnett center like what do you guys do what are you trying to achieve what what’s it like yeah sure um so at ohio state um so i my home department my um my academic home is in the department of arts administration education and policy um and the barnett center kind of stemmed from that from a huge gift from the barnette family um so larry and isabelle barnett um larry graduate or didn’t graduate from ohio state because he was drafted into world war ii uh once he came back from the war became this you know big kind of money man and business guy in hollywood um but he saw people like frank sinatra judy garland lose money and not have the career skills to back up their artistic talent that they you know had great careers and then maybe didn’t always have you know the business skills that they needed to to capitalize on that and so um he and his wife’s gift oh and she was a tony award-winning um broadway actress like fabulous they’re great i mean all of the stories and photos are beautiful and exciting but um they gave money to really bring together the entrepreneurship side of the arts so with the intent of training students to have business skills um and in some of my research uh from like the sociology side we find that essentially people who graduate with an arts degree have enough artistic training like they feel very confident in their artistic skills but there’s a huge gap in how they feel they need and got entrepreneurial and business and finance skills so it’s kind of this kind of research and historic basis for what we’re doing it looks like a lot of different things so in the curriculum space it looks like having an arts entrepreneurship minor that is available to um students from all parts of the university um so in my most recent arts entrepreneurship class i had students majoring in economics communications real estate in addition to some of the arts majors you might expect um so doing curricular programming with those students but also co-curricular work with undergrads and graduate students so the barnett’s center has what’s called a field school that’s kind of a practical application space for grad students to get um self-directed entrepreneurial uh time and money and resources to really bring together the things that they feel like they need so right now that looks like doing a panel on programming for cultural diversity in um arts organizations so bringing together relevant speakers from museums um an america emeritus professor um and other people who they want to hear from and this gives kind of an unstructured or lightly structured space that allows for um resources to fund entrepreneurial action related to the arts what do you say to people who either students or colleagues who say listen art is not business the business is not relevant to art i am teaching people how I dont need business skills to express or create themselves they’re not business people or they say i don’t need business skills what do you say to that yeah so i think the first way i’ll respond is that i always ask my students at the beginning of the semester i have an agree or disagree you know generative conversation with them and the first one is um is it okay for an artist to sell out and i think for a lot of us who grew up maybe before this generation we might have a strong response to that um and be like yeah artists should not sell out be true to your mission be true to your vision be true to your voice um i can tell you that none of my students have ever agreed with the statement artists should not sell out they’re very critical of that idea and they are ready to capitalize on their artistic vision um sometimes i’ll also ask about networking like does uh is it okay does it matter who you know that question and they agree that it does matter but they’re also like not opposed to the idea of networking building community so i think there’s a shift in the way that students see um themselves as creators so whether or not you think it’s like piecework whether you think it’s uh you know selling out i try to shift that into thinking about artistic vision as something that can be so your artistic voice is also something that can be equated to a market niche so if you’re trying to reach people with your specific artistic vision that is meant to evoke particular feelings communicate a unique message to me um i think that that’s directly comparable to what you’re doing as an entrepreneur seeking a market niche seeking to meet people um with a product a resource that they have not had access to in the past um so that’s my my mission that i’m trying to push forward in that space and i think it’s successful i think that they i think they’re buying it um but also i think they’ve been successful it’s kind of a conversation that’s starting to catch on that students feel like is valuable um first of all before we go on i just want to say if anybody has questions either on youtube live or here you can put them in the chat box or you can just raise your hand virtually if you have any follow-up questions for rachel so you study and develop tools to help creative people artists musicians all of them learn the the business of creating and sustaining a livelihood from it like is it possible though are you know can people really survive i mean you hear so much about how Can artists develop livelihoods there are no jobs and web 2.0 has destroyed media outlets and gainful careers and that everything is just piece work and do you agree with that view or can artists develop livelihoods in your opinion it’s certainly more difficult so i think that in a lot of the arts industries especially in the entertainment side of the arts that it’s what’s called a superstar economy so you see these highly famous people um you can apply a lot of kind of economic principles to you know the distribution of success in these spaces however this is a really good time for indie artists so whereas there might not be as many opportunities for someone to become um the superstar which there never have been right there are never that many opportunities to be beyonce to be andy warhol to be any of you know any of the the superstars yeah and that’s just the reality of it it always has been but also increasingly so um with the kind of you know tech changes that lead to a more democratized uh media space it also means that they’re well it’s harder even now to become the superstar there are more opportunities to make a living and to kind of put things together in a way that allows for a sustainable career does that career look like a nine to five in a corporate organization no absolutely not um and that comes with its own set of challenges like i think that the career like a career a portfolio career in the arts putting together you know monies from let’s say public grants also maybe some private funding also selling your own work and perhaps selling your time in gigs you know you might have to pull all of those things together to make a living but it is possible um and i think it can look good there are ways that it can look good there are ways that it can be a sustainable career that does give autonomy and creativity a space um but perhaps it also means that you do have to sell your work your time your vision um to a company in a way that um is not just your own creative vision right so it’s like you can’t easily become a Becoming an artist for a living millionaire without doing work but if you engage in sort of business practices based on your art you could become a person who does this professionally in some capacity and have the reward of being an artist for a living absolutely yes and have some space for your own creative vision your own autonomy or applying your creativity whatever that looks like however you define creativity um in your work but at the same time you might not be you know full time in a studio or full-time performing like there might be waves and you might have ebbs and flows of what types of work you’re doing um so that is challenging but it’s also something that i think we can prepare students for um you know i think that if you didn’t grow up um around artists like what does that look like what does it look like to be an artist um i mean when i was a child i thought i wanted to be a ballet dancer for a while which for many reasons you know didn’t happen but i can remember my mom saying you know that doesn’t make money but also my mom had a degree in graphic arts and you know there are only some ways where that can make money my dad’s a songwriter there are only ways some ways where that can make money um so it really is not just the skill or the kind of artistic discipline that matters i think there’s some general principles of business and of occupations and really sociology of work that can really get behind um ways that we can train and help people develop the skills and also dispositions that they need in order to carry on a sustainable long-term artistic career i didn’t know that you were the child of artists that’s really cool we got a question seth shire seth yes hi rachel hey uh a question you’re using the term artist could you define that maybe a Artist little more closely i mean do you mean people who paint people who write yeah so for me um and this isn’t everyone and i think sometimes i get some pushback um but i define art very broadly i think people who are um creating performing managing educating people in and around um cultural creative and artistic work um to me all count as artists and i typically if you were reading my writing you’d see me say that in a more direct way up front um so with the data set that i use the quantitative data set that i use snap strategic national arts alumni project they have a very broad view and that’s kind of what i go with so people who do visual arts performing arts media art communications arts as well as architects designers arts educators arts administrators and managers within the arts and art historians too oh okay great well thank you yeah or what what about faculty like i i get the sense that you know we’re very Faculty much in this space as well and a lot of our behaviors our professional behaviors resemble the content creators that uh ryan and i have been observing what’s your feeling yeah i think we’re in a similar space right so again i’m a sociologist of work primarily and so if i’m thinking about what occupational structures look like in the arts i think faculty map on quite well to some pieces of that i also believe that faculty need to be entrepreneurial um i’ve had conversations about this all throughout my graduate training i think that increasingly everyone must be entrepreneurial which is why artists again broadly defined occupationally or a really good case study or case for study if you’re trying to understand the new economy and new ways of work artists have been likened to canaries in the mine for what work conditions look like for people and i think we’re seeing that with the gig economy the platform economy these are things that artists of different types you know let’s say musicians in a gig economy they’ve been using that terminology and that work style um for decades and so we can learn a lot from the ways that they organize their professional lives their workplace identities their schedules um in ways that now are really applicable to quite a large portion of our our labor force yeah it seems to me your answer strikes me like it it’s not necessarily that opportunities are shrinking in an absolute sense it’s just that there are Skills Required different skills that are required to survive and the very talented artists who waited for someone else to pluck them up and elevate them might not be doing as well whereas maybe somebody with stronger business schools can compensate or do well despite being less talented than that personal exactly so having creativity having creative skills being able to paint being able to sculpt knowing how to work with materials whether those be sonic materials physical materials uh choreographic steps um those are only one piece of the skill portfolio that’s needed for a creative career today um so it’s actually kind of difficult for for people who are practicing artists working artists or creators um because not only must you be you you have to have something to say what whatever that looks like in your art or in your content but in addition to that you have to do your own taxes you have to understand copyright and how you can legally engage in the world um how can you be referential toward artists who you appreciate from the past in a legal way how can you incorporate uh collaborators into your work and can you be sued for it um i had a student who was very concerned after our day about um llcs and other potential like ways to organize your work she’s like oh my gosh i had someone get injured at one of my photography sessions she was my model i paid her am i liable and yes you know yes she is um luckily some time has passed we think that she’s in the clear the person seems okay um however that’s that’s a piece of the skill that you wouldn’t anticipate if you think photographer um you know there’s a lot that has to go into making them successful but in turn that also makes them um you know more marketable not just for their artistic skill their value goes beyond that um so it’s a lot to learn but also does bring with it um once those skills are required uh the ability to use and market those skills in addition to the kind of creative lens that they might apply to their work do you find that uh some of the young people who you train eventually find sort of standard jobs and they insert artistic creation into their job portfolio like ryan and i have interviewed podcasters who they’re like listen we’re theater kids and we wanted to perform and we basically found a marketing department that would pay us to do live events and whatever and they’re still artists but they’re doing it as professional marketers and they’re earning like a good living instead yeah i think that people should do that and this is when when we get into people complaining that like oh an arts degree doesn’t lead to a job um i think that’s such a limiting view because if you like don’t you want uh you know a doctor who has like a creative way of seeing the world don’t you want someone to be you know expressive and intuitive and uh like across the board in all jobs i think that um maybe it’s stephen tepper who advocated for the arts being like an arts degree being you know similar to a business degree like it’s a portfolio of skills it’s a way of seeing the world that can be applied across many different types of occupations um i like that i think that it’s it’s good to think about um people in obviously a marketing department being creative right you need like different ways to to sell things in creative ways but also thinking about people you know in hospitality people in the travel industry people across the board having creativity it’s seen as this like special sauce like people want creative people um but we’re also hesitant to say that there we no no one on this call would be hesitant to say that um but that there’s something that you should avoid about kind of studying or learning the arts in higher education you know what’s interesting about that conception of creativity so we were talking to hannah wool uh last semester and she was studying like like you know those no sense for business artists the weirdo type of artist and she found that creativity itself was basically just prod product piloting like they were basically creating mock-ups of products and basically test Creativity marketing them see which ones got good returns and they would build on it yeah and it’s almost like the act the the the difference between test marketing and creativity might not be as great as people really understand or or assume when they hear those words well i think we want to think artists are really special right like i think that you know there’s this historic conception of artists as being a genius someone who’s separate from other people someone who works in isolation and sociologists i think we’ve been really good at pushing back on that and saying no like artists are responding to and contributing to society artists are in community artists are they’re not special like we’re all creative you know they can make special work i think everyone’s special right not just artists and that by separating the idea of the artist away from other people it makes that gap you know sometimes difficult to fill so let’s talk about the the curriculum that you guys uh uh uh train people in the barn center so when an aspiring artist comes to you can you just give us a bird’s-eye sense of like your curriculum and how you see it as developing the artist into something that can succeed more sure definitely so um this is where the kind of departmental home of arts administration education and policy kind of fits with the barnett center so the barnett center itself is not uh does not offer curriculum um however the department’s very closely linked to it so if we’re thinking of artists and students across the board from all different majors they might come to the arts entrepreneurship major um and say you know i’m trying to get a degree in the fischer college of business but really i want to be an artist but my parents also want me to get a business degree so that that’s often the story that we get or you know someone from the music department well they have actually their own entrepreneurship minor in business but we are in in music but we work together with them too but across the board they might come to us and um we hope to give them kind of a broad education that’s skills-based um so i was i think hired to to bring some of this more entrepreneurial and for-profit sense to the curriculum it’s historically been a lot about managing arts organizations so thinking about especially non-profit especially community-based organizations so we have a lot of strength in that department likewise that’s where a lot of jobs are especially a lot of first-time jobs for students um who they graduate they’re practicing their own art on this not even on the side but you know in the time that they have to practice it it might be working for an arts organization as their their day job or as their kind of salary generating activities so we certainly have curriculum about how to manage arts organizations how to manage social media for organizations and for artists um how to manage uh board relationships so how do you get grants and how do you manage kind of who is directing the ship um but i’m trying to bring to this this entrepreneurial side so i developed just a class called arts entrepreneurship which you would think in an arts entrepreneurship minor would be there but um you know what we’re pushing forward um so that class i was actually kind of not scared but um wary that it wouldn’t be allowed to be offered because it’s not curricular in the sense that like you know you’re going with this you know literature scholarly tradition over time like it’s all very new it is based on research but it’s also new research from the past 15 years um but it is incredibly successful the purpose of the or the the final project of the class uh is earn a hundred dollars doing something creative and legal um you know you have to add that on like please do something i don’t yeah like turn in a project that’s illegal i feel like it might happen if you don’t say it um so that was the thing but um the whole class up to that is built around how to support students as they test out their ideas so like you said product testing um students think they’re gonna go viral on tick tock students one student thought he was going to be able to sell an nfd however he wasn’t a digital artist yet um so you have all of these things where students have the idea of what they can do and they haven’t had the opportunity to try it out yet so it’s a space where students are able to iterate pivot so my student who wanted to do an nft ultimately decided his photography skills were better serving um the goal of the of the class um and actually earning the money is only a small part of their grade you know it’s not like you’re gonna fail if you earn seven dollars um however you know you have to do a lot of reflective writing around that which i think is an important practice for any student who wants to to have a job in a space being reflective um and really being self-critical so looking back at reflective writing and thinking how could i grow where am i not pushing myself what what’s wrong like what what is wrong with this strategy that’s not working how do i pivot how do i change um and why did only seven people look at my tick tock okay maybe that’s not my best marketing strategy right now right you know it’s also it is a path of self-discovery like we find i i think jason would agree with me we get kids who come in and they you know they want Experiential Learning to be in front of a camera or whatever and then by the end of the experience they’re like you know what i’m a web programmer or i you know i want to cut video and i think that that experiential those types of experiential opportunities allow the student to find where in the big machine of cultural creation they want to work right they might not know about those things i mean in a real way students come in knowing what they haven’t like you know interacted with in the past i mean how would you know that you wanted to be a video editor if you’ve only seen people in front of cameras and haven’t edited video yourself um you know you might not know that that exists and so i think being exposed to those sorts of things whether it’s through an internship project-based education or kind of you know do go in it on your own and trying to do the whole process i think going through the whole process is really valuable writing a marketing plan figuring out like do you need to pay taxes on your hundred dollars like just asking that question and letting students figure out what that looks like um i think is very valuable um to have them work through something that they might not have time for you know our students are busy they’re working regular jobs um they are taking other classes um so without having the space to take risks that’s i mean i think that’s one of the big things about this space is allowing students the space to take risks without having you know horrible consequences if they fail yeah college in general i think is like it’s like an adult incubation center sometimes they’re like yeah yeah i have one i have uh uh one more question to ask about curriculum but i wanted to give if anybody an opportunity if you have a question about educational Educational Programming programming related to arts and entrepreneurship are there any other sort of questions related to that all right oh jason all right go go for it jason um thanks rachel this is totally fascinating and i think uh our students would definitely be interested in this our you know their our students definitely don’t have a sense of selling out as like a horrible thing right the thing i’m curious about is a lot of what you’re talking about it seems to me artists often in have gained through communities artistic communities i’m just curious about how which you know happen in a kind of like loosely formed kind of way and are a little different for everybody i’m wondering how your curriculum kind of relates to that kind of the the community stuff that that artist yeah so in addition to um so i’m only in my third year at ohio state so this is um you know a job that i was brought in and luckily was allowed to develop curriculum so in addition to that arts entrepreneurship class the other course that i’ve developed for undergraduates is called the social world of the arts um it’s cross-listed in sociology but it’s real it is sociology of art and culture um but in that class it’s really focused around what clayton childress would talk about as creation production and reception these kind of three spheres where the social world of the arts is important um so in that class the students engage very heavily with the idea of um a social world around creation so like having artistic peers having a horizontal you know you don’t just want to connect to that superstar in your field you want to um you know what songwriters would call come up with your class like you want to have almost a cohort model of people who can help you refine your skills give you feedback and also provide opportunities they’re those uh connections who might bring in new information and opportunities to you know the next level is uh the social world of the production of art so having like that big machine like how do you need to work with an editor do you need to work with a producer um how do you connect your work to an audience that kind of intermediary space which is often you know when you think about oh it’s who you know i feel like that’s what people are talking about like do you know someone who can help take you from creation to reception um and bridge that space and then finally the space of reception or audiences um consumption i know that some english faculty have told me they don’t like hearing sociologists talk about consumption they think about like horrible victorian things about death so i think reception is a good good term that maybe is more interdisciplinary um but in that space thinking about how people engage with audiences um whether those audiences be you know recursively their own peers or critics in their field other gatekeepers or whether it’s really like the audience of people who engage with their art as a fan um or as what we would think of as an audience kind of watching consuming the art um so the my course does that in the past it has been you know more theory heavy like we read a lot of sociology um and i get to put really cool things in front of them but now um now that we’re back in person and living life again um i this fall we’re going to be working with a local youtube i mean superstar really he has millions and millions of followers so the students in the first half of the class will learn that framework this social world of the arts framework and then work with a content creator to apply that framework to one video so they have a video and it’s not out yet but it’s going to be kind of their keystone video for the year um and we’re going to interview the creator so the person who’s on the camera but also look like i think we’re going to visit their office and you know look at the editing bays and looking at this kind of production side and then looking at the reception so i think the students will want to look at the comments on the video and when i said that to the creator the creator and his team kind of laughed and so i think that it’ll be interesting for them to look at the comments and then ask the creator so what degree does this matter but yes absolutely this kind of social embeddedness in community is really key to my own research so of course i’m putting it forward in my curriculum i think that um having them understand community in all of these different ways and how they might fit into it gives them a really like a better pathway if if their jobs aren’t going to be based on employment they’re going to be based on community um so that’s something that i think is is really important for them to learn so a lot of people on this call are interested in in realizing a similar vision uh at our at our school and uh i i i gotta tell you everything that you’ve told me about uh what you’re doing out there has just got me all pumped up like it’s so cool and uh i i just i’m just really in awe but like i feel lucky to get to do it right oh my god so i mean it’s something that i can just see the appeal of and i Lessons Learned think it would be great for our school as well uh for those of us who are interested in developing this type of programming at our schools what type of advice would you give us like what were the big sort of lessons you journey of developing this program that might help us avoid pitfalls yeah i think one is just like i said about students being open to risk and iteration and product development that um you know it really does take time to realize the vision of it um especially those partnerships like embedding ourselves in our own communities um takes time so luckily you’re all already embedded in your university community um so i think that i as someone who sees myself as entrepreneurial looked to those people in the university or people programs initiatives that were well aligned with my goals um so i think looking at where our curricular needs were so students um had said it’s too focused on non-profits we need more for-profit um and it’s too focused on visual art so i initially kind of started pushing things towards student interest um but then aligned that with the kind of initiatives and partnerships that were possible um in my community in columbus um that was hard to do during covid and i am new to town um but it’s something that has taken iteration and will continue to to change and grow um so i think aligning yourself with the the interest and needs of your community which it sounds like you’re already doing um is is kind of the first step there um but i think also whatever the curricular content is that you’re trying to use i think it was really helpful for me to think like seriously about what resources i had in uh kind of instructional design and pedagogy um so for me i took quite a few classes and read a lot online about students as producers of knowledge um so this is a movement that i’ve seen in a lot of teaching and learning centers um at different universities and then there’s the whole scholarship of teaching and learning on that um but that allowed me to reimagine what student products look like so what does a final project look like that could look like earning a hundred dollars okay so if i can’t grade a student on earning a hundred dollars how can i measure learning um which had to lead me to like very extensive rubric writing around reflective writing for students um so i think that that has been really helpful for me that kind of backward design pedagogy around what does a student product look like that will be useful for them um because the final paper i don’t know that it’s that useful to them it would have been useful for me but i became academic right let’s shift gears and talk about you doing this work as a sociologist you know hold on i’m sorry about that i’m sure it’s somebody who wants to tell me that my car dealership or my visa mastercard is expire whatever they they’re telling me these days i apologize for that um you know in our discipline there’s often a strong sense that like or i Moving into Applied Work think there’s a non-favorable view in some quarters uh towards business or applied oriented work i think there’s even maybe said as a form of disparagement that’s not universally the case for example i mean i don’t want to speak on behalf of all of queen’s college but philosophically uh applied work is at the center of what we do but it’s not always like that um what’s it been like for you to move into an applied field do you do you know do you do do people guilt you do they make you feel bad for it or have your colleagues been supportive or how’s it going yeah um so i think that first i’ve aligned myself throughout my career with mentors who really push me to understand what i want for myself and so that’s taken a lot of the inner work of like oh do i need to go to this institution like what like you know we all seek prestige in some ways or another but really aligning like what do i want um with what your actions are so luckily i have mentors that i’ve cultivated who support that um but yes absolutely i’ve had a lot of people ask like when are you coming back to sociology um and i published you know um i published in sociology journals but i also publish in arts-focused journals um and i think as a scholar i have to um separate the audience of my work to those two spaces um it’s been really useful because it allows me to use my data for uh public interest right for things that might impact higher education policy let’s say um but then you can write kind of the theoretical generalizable sociological take on it too um and again i went to vanderbilt to work with stephen tupper who is a sociologist who is now the dean of an art school so i already again kind of worked toward that type of a career but i do have people who ask you know when are you coming back i’m like i never left here i am um and that’s fine people can can think that or not um but i’m also in an applied department so the department that i’m in um does licensure for k-12 art education um so they are already very you know oriented toward application and jobs so it has not been a difficult sell in the department that i am in um which makes the work a lot easier i feel like i have a lot of um freedom to do this type of work or to train students um but i think that’s my disposition too like i think if i have you ever done the thing of like if i weren’t an academic what would i do um so mine is that i’d probably be like a college career counselor like i like helping people get jobs um that is part of my mentorship that’s part of what i do with and for my friends um and luckily i’m they hired me to teach about it too um so so i already like that kind of thing um just so you know though uh on the uh as far as the i mean we at the annex we targeted entirely sociology you’re actually a good draw so you’re still central to the discussion just so you know if you have any inkling that like you’re out of the loop you’re actually Culture of Production quite a draw and you know i really admire what you what you do because i see it as real innovation and a way of us taking it’s basically the culture of production and making it useful to the world yeah it’s extremely exciting and the only question i have is like could we create more avenues where people who do the production of culture could find spaces like that yeah yeah i think so i think that um one of the things that would help with that okay so number one like we’re all academics like we if student seeks us for advice like it’s we’re not trained to give advice like we can only really help people with the things we know about um so that makes us limiting in that way um all of our students are not going to be academics and it’s easy to kind of trick ourselves into thinking we have this broad knowledge and like broad access to helping people do whatever but we’re not specialists in that and so i think that for us ourselves having conversations with people in the in artistic fields and content creation fields um just to stay grounded with what is kind of really going on i would say in my own research and practice the way that i do that is asking people for 30-minute conversations um it’s not part of research it’s never data it’s just like what’s going on how can i produce research that’s useful for you um whether that be for organizations or individual artists like what could i do that would speak to you so again i’m allowed to do that because i get credit for doing policy relevant research but i think that sociologists especially want to be policy relevant you know i think a lot of us put in the last paragraph of our papers like this is relevant to policy because um but if we don’t know policy makers if we don’t know people who will be impacted by that um it can be disconnected so staying in touch with actual people and organizations i think is a very practical way to work toward that at least you know what your answer really resonates with me like in this research and podcasting i mean there’s been a field experiment component where we just ran a podcast network to see how it’s going and like it is very humbling because you realize once you actually try you’re like oh there’s all sorts of stuff i don’t know like i i had no clue that the folks at like it was my this this project was my first exposure to both like the details of what they’re doing at media studies and english and i was like oh that’s a deep well like that’s so far out of my league like you Communication realize that you’re only good at some stuff yeah if you don’t break out of sociology you assume that the totality of the world that you’re talking about is what you’re discussing right right yeah and i think that’s something about communication too like i think if we you know if you sit down and like have a coffee or a beer with somebody like from a different field you can get to those similar pieces or with someone from the public but it can be really difficult to do that translational language whether it’s because of jargon or because of like uh focus on theory that’s not necessarily relevant to their their theory um so i think that that’s actually very challenging and that we’re not i wasn’t necessarily trained for that in sociology um you know i was lucky to work at a center similar to the barnett center at vanderbilt as well so i was you know trained by um a victorianist he wrote one of my letters of recommendation for uh the job that i have now um and i think that’s powerful too you know cultivating people who can speak on your behalf and speak about the importance of your work to and from different perspectives um so i think that’s valuable especially for graduate students who are thinking about um being academic entrepreneurs but also for students who are thinking about how to be a content creator whose content is relevant to more than just themselves um which can be a challenge for them sometimes i think now are you did you overlap uh with uh peterson when you were at vanderbilt no unfortunately i think that um i so my dissertation was about country music my undergraduate thesis was about country music and i think i started reading peterson right around the end of his life and so it’s really sad but i feel like i got to you know bask in the legacy somewhat yeah vanderbilt just for non-sociologists vanderbilt is probably the central institution in a subfield that both rachel and i are in which is the production of culture and that’s the subfield of sociology that examines how the conditions in which people create information or culture shapes the content of what we see and discuss so it looks at sort of like the like the business of it it really is the business of it yeah it’s 100 sociology yeah yeah that’s why you and i are both a little bit more agnostic about what the arts are about what creation is because like that perspective necessarily is like very social and very structural right so like thinking about um what does digitization do to the content itself like that is broad that’s not just something that can apply to painters or sculptors or musicians it’s across the board all right so we’re uh we’re almost out of time and uh i just wanted to give uh anybody Questions if anybody has any questions for uh yes amy yeah thank you so much this is fascinating um and i especially love the way you’re bringing in the social aspect um the cohort community building aspect of that that seems really valuable i’m wondering how you balance preparing students to find jobs find fulfilling jobs with on the one side the exploitation of the gig economy which tends to impact artists um more than really any other field i can think of um and also then on the other side the hunger for corporate partnerships by the administration without always um thinking through whether that corporate partnership is actually good for the students or if it’s just a money making venture i would imagine that would be a really tough balance to strike yeah i think in terms of the what are we preparing students for that’s a conversation i have a lot across my department because we’re all you know preparing people specifically to go out and get jobs in the arts um and it’s i think that very regularly at the end of zoom calls i’m like we’re not gonna solve capitalism today and like that’s it’s silly but it’s also true um students want these jobs students are trying to enter these jobs and there really are spaces for them to make money make an impact a social impact even um but what one of the things that i do in that space is in all of my classes i talk about precarity so talking about what precarious jobs are how those look and how that differs from other jobs um so again as a sociologist of work i would say that we’re all in this space at this point and that like it doesn’t really matter what you know if you’re an attorney if you’re a doctor um every everyone has to deal with this to some degree um but i certainly um provide i show him the numbers about kind of what this looks like and some potential strategies for overcoming uh at least the most common ways that people could fall into precarity so that’s one end on the other um so i haven’t worked a lot with corporate partnerships i have worked a lot with family foundations so people who have funded initiatives like the barnett center every level of my education and employment has been funded by a family foundation um so i’ve had some living donors some you know kind of in perpetuity legacy foundations and i think it’s something that academics do have to think about especially in terms of you know academic freedom um do you feel that this partnership is well aligned with with your mission um and thankfully i think that um you know my kind of proposition is that people can have strong jobs in the arts um i think that that’s a really fundable idea i think that that aligns really well with um some corporate interests a lot of family foundation type interests um so i think that that for me that hasn’t been as much of a challenge i could see it being a challenge for spaces that are not necessarily aligned with like preparing workers for a labor market um but luckily i’ve i’ve found good spaces with that but i think again you you know you do need to be thoughtful about how your academic freedom kind of intersects with special funding initiatives all right rachel skaggs from the ohio state university’s barnett center rachel i am such a fan of yours i can’t even believe that you’re only in the third year of your professorship you’re such an interesting like productive scholar i’m a i like i’m you can count me as a fan of your work and i i look forward to chatting about your research uh next week on the well we’re recording next week on the podcast it’ll get out when it gets out we have a pretty pretty loose production schedule over here at queen’s college but it was a pleasure thank you so much rachel thank you i love getting a time to talk about this part of the work that doesn’t always get talked about all right i’m gonna end the live stream and i’m pressing it but we’re just gonna give it a couple seconds so don’t say anything self-incriminating