Creative ways to get ahead: Masters in arts and design

Masters in arts and innovation vary wildly, but the best have a hard commercial edge, says Peter Brown

When he fell off his bike Ani Surabhi was wearing a helmet, but still got concussion. He began to wonder how the design could be improved. Then he got to work. The result is the Kranium, a helmet with a honeycomb cardboard structure, inspired, he says, by the corrugated cartilage that protects a woodpecker's skull as it pecks.

When he fell off his bike Ani Surabhi was wea\ring a helmet, but still got concussion. He began to wonder how the design could be improved. Then he got to work. The result is the Kranium, a helmet with a honeycomb cardboard structure, inspired, he says, by the corrugated cartilage that protects a woodpecker's skull as it pecks.

Surabhi had the advantage of being a Masters student in innovation design engineering at the Royal College of Art. But to get his idea to the point of manufacture, he had first to pass a grilling from Nadia Danhash, director of RCA Innovation, which incubates the best of the students' ideas and prepares them for market.

"We talked to Ani about the next steps, the commercialisation and exploitation of the idea," she says. "Was there really a market for a new helmet? Was it technically and commercially feasible? We worked through that and connected him with an angel investor. He formed a company which has licensed the helmet and they were launched in the UK in December."

The range of Masters courses in the creative industries is huge and often confusing, but one mark of a good one is the quality of practical business advice that it offers. That can range from industry contacts and placements to help with starting your own business. The Central School of Speech and Drama offers a one-year MA in creative producing. "The heart of the course is its entrepreneurial approach," says Jessica Bowles, who runs it. "The wonderful thing about theatre-making is we've been doing lean start-ups for centuries. Theatre-makers are people who can embrace change, take risks and make new stories."

Central's students have often already worked in the industry and are looking for a period of reflection. About a third are international. As early as their second week into the course, they compile a business plan. They draw up budgets, pitch ideas to industry bosses and can tap Central's wide network of theatrical contacts for work placements – a big draw.

At Warwick University, Chris Bilton is director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, which runs three Masters courses aimed at people interested in a career in the creative media. He makes sure there's a business edge to all three.

"Some people say content is king – we say context is king," says Bilton. "It's about understanding delivery systems and platforms, value chains, marketing – the whole industrial context in which the industry takes place.

"There are a lot of group presentations and project work – for example, we had people working on the future of 3D TV at the BBC. We teach people what it's like to be out of their comfort zone, or to lead a project when other people don't want to be led."

Most Warwick graduates tend to go into entry-level jobs, but some become entrepreneurs. "One former student set up a jewellery company. Another, Ed Chappel, got some seed funding in 2009 to set up the annual Musical Comedy Awards, which are still running," Bilton says.

International business schools, meanwhile, are turning their attention to the arts. Rouen Business School in France has set up a new MSc in arts management, taught in English and starting in October. "I launched this programme because the cultural industries and institutions – museums, galleries – are changing fast," says Joelle Lagier, the course director. "There are also the banks and insurance companies. Axa France are developing a department for art purchase. We can teach people how to manage these collections." Rouen also has a partnership with the Renmin University of China, and Lagier points east to China as an exploding market in the arts field. "There's galleries opening every three days over there," she says.

Case study: 'Much of this is about who you know'

Sarah Wilson took the MA in creative producing at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

"When you're looking to go into producing and you're not from London, it's very difficult to see a doorway. I found this course online. It offered a formal degree and placements and I thought maybe I could network my way in. So much of this industry is really who you know. I used to hate that idea but I've realised that names and personal recommendations really do count for a lot.

It cost me £14,500 as an overseas student – I'm from the Isle of Man – but the Manx Government paid it all. The course covered entrepreneurship, finance, budgeting and how to market yourself. On my placement I was offered a part-time position at Camden People's Theatre and I'm still doing that now. They've become an advocate for my work.

I'm doing a range of things. I work at Blind Summit Theatre, who were responsible for the puppets at the Olympics, and I'm the producer for a company called Rhum and Clay. I'm also working with a performance artist called Rachel Mars.

All these jobs feed into each other in terms of what I'm learning. In the future I'll be looking for a really good venue job, but this will be another independent year for me."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
scienceBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + ents
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Sport
sport
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried