Janice Pellar – Cause: The Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project at the LSU College of Music Dramatic Arts

Janice Pellar is instrumental in helping music students realize the link between their creative pursuits and professional opportunities.

For Janice Pellar, the worlds of music and business exist in perfect harmony. She has played the organ at her church since she was 14 and later earned a music education degree from LSU. She also went to work for—and ultimately led—the successful technology company founded by her father.

Now Pellar wants other music students to know that the realm of business isn’t out of reach for them, either. In fact, it might just be the perfect accompaniment to their degrees. Through the Janice H. Pellar Creative Arts Entrepreneurship Project at LSU’s School of Music and Dramatic Arts, Pellar hopes to raise students’ consciousness of transferrable skills they can use in the arts or in any future career opportunity.

The initiative evolved from conversations Pellar had with Dean Laurence Kaptain about the necessary evolution of arts education to include creative arts entrepreneurship, a relatively new concept being adopted by a handful of the nation’s leading music schools and universities.

“Working on a large musical performance is at its basic form nothing more than project management,” Pellar explains. “You take a large project (performance piece), break it into individual tasks (parts of the piece), perform the task until it is refined and ready for productions (rehearsal), communicate with fellow workers (musicians) and finally put the completed elements back together (the performance).”

Even Pellar didn’t always have this understanding of the link between arts and business, however; she says she spent years apologizing for her music degree in the corporate world. “But after several years, I began to understand that my music degree may have been the best preparation for business I could have,” she says. “Hopefully, participants in this program will be able to recognize and seize on opportunities as they come. It took me 10 years to recognize those skills, so I’m excited about sharing that with students, to fast-track them into the world after school.”

Launched in 2010, the Pellar Project brings nationally known entrepreneurs, educators and professional musicians to campus for student seminars a few times a year. Topics include everything from marketing and promotion to protecting intellectual property. Still in its early stages, the program’s value will be assessed and may ultimately become a permanent part of the university’s arts curriculum.

“We are opening up minds to think bigger and grasp opportunities,” Pellar says.

For more information, see cmda.lsu.edu.

What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
Knowing you are making a difference in a life is a huge high. Having a student come up to you and thank you for giving them an opportunity is a great gift.

What do you hope to achieve?
We want to give students in the arts more options and choices for their future. We also want to demonstrate that the kind of creative thinking fostered in the arts is a highly desired trait in the business world as well. They operate together, not apart.

How would you like to inspire others?
I’d like people to realize that giving back is important. Not only does it help the people involved, but it helps your own heart and soul as well.

What is something we don’t know about your cause?
The relationship between the arts and business skills is often hidden. As Dean Laurence Kaptain has said, “The cognitive leaps attained while participating in creative endeavors are increasingly recognized as contributing to scientific, economic, social, and cultural advances and reach beyond the moment apparent to the crowd.”