Should students planning to work in design, music, film and television have a “back-up plan?”
Not according to John Hockenberry, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and host of the national public radio program, The Takeaway. Hockenberry served as moderator for a panel discussion on the creative economy at the College of Arts and Media’s (CAM) spring convocation. The panel featured alumni, students and industry leaders from a variety of creative fields and disciplines.
CAM Dean Laurence Kaptain opened convocation by welcoming students, faculty and parents and affirming CAM’s commitment to help students “be confident of purpose and ready to succeed.”
“Our college is made up of three distinct departments, yet we share the common threads of creative thoughts and expression,” Kaptain said. “Our mission is to effect change by preparing students to successfully pursue their passions.”
CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell attended the ceremony and expressed her enthusiasm for the college to position itself within Denver as a leader that can draw and produce creativity.
“Employers appreciate technical expertise, but they realize that the fuel that has kept us so strong in the world is our ability to create and innovate,” Horrell said. “This college is an engine of creative thought and innovation.”
Mixing the arts
Hockenberry led panelists through discussion topics such as the increasing emphasis on design at the forefront of projects, why creative professionals should not be expected to have a “fall-back plan” and ways to bring new ideas to fruition. However, one of the most engaging ideas for panelists was the idea of mixing creative disciplines—a practice common in CAM.
“This school is all about knocking down categories—giving permission to (be creative to) the widest number of people and allowing people to set aside their concerns about having a plan A, plan B and plan C and mix it up more,” Hockenberry said.
Tim Kimmel, an Emmy-award winning CAM alumnus, concurred that not limiting himself to the sound industry has been one factor behind his success in the television and film industries. His willingness to understand preproduction, writing, directing and post-production gives him insight into how he can better perform his role.
“I have found that to learn more about the whole process (of sound design), it’s always very good to learn about everything in filmmaking,” Kimmel said. “It makes me better at my job knowing how it got to be and how to help finish the project.”
Sharing the dream
Panelists also discussed their responsibility as creative professionals to ensure that careers in arts and entertainment are accessible to future generations. For the panelists, that effort begins with making sure people of all ages understand the importance of the arts.
“We have to give back to the community—give the next set of kids the dream that they can do it,” said Ruth Vitale, CEO of CreativeFuture. “Without creativity there is no humanity.”
Valuing her own skills as a singer was a struggle for Kameshia Hazard, a panelist who graduated from CU Denver in 2015 as a music business major. Growing up she saw increased emphasis placed on STEM disciplines, with little importance on arts.
“We put so much emphasis on one side of the brain and totally negate everything else,” Hazard said. “Without that other side we don’t have the entertainment industry. We need to value music and the other arts.”
Editor’s note: Watch the entire panel discussion.
Tim Kimmel ’98, supervising sound editor and 2015 Emmy award winner
Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX, Design to Improve Life
Ruth Vitale, CEO of CreativeFuture and independent film producer
Luke Austin, junior film and television major
Kameshia Hazard ’15, music business major
Michelle H. Lee, senior illustration major