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Piper Center introduces fine arts networking resource

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The Piper Center for Vocation and Career recently launched Ole Gigs, a new networking resource for fine arts students. Ole Gigs serves as a job board for connecting faculty members and employers to musicians, dancers, artists and theater students.

Branden Grimmett ’03, the fine arts coach and director of the Piper Center, oversaw Ole Gigs’ creation, which has recently listed postings seeking Danish Music Festival musicians, a wedding string quartet and Epic Enterprise musicians, among others. So far, postings are typically for temporary employment opportunities and remain up on the site for a couple of weeks.

While Ole Gigs originated from discussions with music faculty and most of the openings so far ask for instrumentalists, Grimmett emphasized that Ole Gigs is available for any postings dealing with fine arts. These include gigs for theater, dance and art students. He hopes that more students and faculty will take advantage of the job board in the future, for the benefit of all involved.

As of this week, only nine gigs have been posted. Grimmett hopes that this number will increase as more people take advantage of the site.

“We’re responding to what the public wants in terms of student expertise,” Grimmett said. “If the faculty can provide connections, it would be really helpful.”

The networking board first came about when Grimmett pitched the idea to the music faculty. Before Ole Gigs, professors in the music department filled gigs by sending out emails to all music students. Grimmett saw an opportunity for a networking resource to consolidate these opportunities in a job board similar to Ole Career Central.

Grimmett spoke with music department co-chair Kent McWilliams, who liked the idea of making an online space for networking between students, faculty and alumni.

“We had a great conversation about supporting music students and the fine arts in general,” Grimmett said.

According to Grimmett, the Piper Center has seen a sizeable influx of fine arts students taking advantage of its resources over the past year. He pointed in particular to the Making it in the Arts Conference this past September, which the Piper Center funded. Geared toward music, theater, art and dance, the event served as the fine arts version of Ole Biz and Ole Med. The Piper Center intends to fund a second conference next fall.

The Piper Center also hosts fine arts prepping sessions to help students who are otherwise busy with practice and rehearsals prepare a resume and think about finding internships. Grimmett noted that it is important for fine arts students to have access to the same professional help as students in other areas of study.

According to Grimmett, the Piper Center’s recently-established program for funding unpaid and underpaid internships also heavily benefits fine arts students. Over this past Interim and summer, 35 out of the 109 internship scholarships, or more than 30 percent, went to students in the fine arts.

“This percentage is larger than the actual student body representation of these majors,” Grimmett said.

For the past two years, the Piper Center has also supported the fine arts by taking a total of 50 students interested in performing and visual arts to New York City to network with alumni and learn about careers available in their respective fields.

Of the openings posted in Ole Gigs so far, only one has gone to a student, while the rest have gone to faculty, as no students were interested. Grimmett hopes that more students will take advantage of the website in the future.

fridley@stolaf.edu