Get to Know Mark Rabideau
Five Questions for Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty AffairsMegan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Aug 12, 2021
Mark Rabideau is the Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the College of Arts & Media (CAM) and the President of The College Music Society. Before coming to Denver in 2020, Rabideau served as Director of the 21st Century Music Initiative at DePauw University and as publisher/editor of 21CM.org. Rabideau’s book,The 21CM Introduction to Music Entrepreneurship, received the 2018 Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Educators’ Innovative Arts Entrepreneurship Pedagogy award. Rabideau says he is most inspired when helping artists make a difference in the world and when helping people who want to make a difference in the world become more creative.
1. Your work has focused on the necessity of artists to function as entrepreneurs in our society and culture. How are artists inherently entrepreneurial?
Entrepreneurs see needs, gaps, and opportunities and invent solutions that change the world. Pursuing life as an artist helps us develop the mindsets that empower us to shape our own future. We develop curiosity about what can be, creativity in finding solutions, a collaborative spirit that brings ideas to life, and the tenacity to push forward—even in the face of adversity. These mindsets allow us to bring about change. And it is in the knowing that we are empowered to bring about change that hope is instilled within us; hope that our lives and the lives of those we most love can improve; hope that our art will enrich other lives; hope that our work to usher beauty into the world can combat the destruction we see continually unfolding on our 24-hour news cycles.
Artists are inventors of our best future.
2. You have indicated that artists need to be empathetic in order to create meaningful work. What role does higher education play in teaching and fostering empathy?
The artistic experience is found within the triangular relationship of the art, the self, and the audience. We, as artists, must care deeply enough about our art to log in the countless hours to thrive at our craft. And we must listen, hear, and care deeply enough about our audiences to foster ways of connecting art and audience. This is the very definition of empathy: to understand and share the feelings of someone else. It is this inseparable relationship between art, artist, and audience that instills hope and strengthens communities as it unpacks the complexities of the shared human experience.
I have the joyful privilege of serving as Associate Dean for Faculty & Student Affairs within CAM. The vision that drives our work reads:
We envision a world made smaller, and more fully human, by the artist’s interpretation of the human experience.
As an administrator, it is my job to facilitate a collaborative space where students can create, expand their imaginations, and learn from nurturing faculty.
3. Did 2020 alter or change your perspective on your role in CAM?
The public, televised murder of George Floyd highlighted the necessity for me to leverage my (often unearned) privilege to unlock the systems of oppression for which my role, too often, serves as a gatekeeper. If—as many will argue—art is a universal language, then we as artists must use our voices, use our art to combat systemic racism within arts training and throughout our communities.
On a systemic level, I am involved in dismantling systemic oppression through CAM’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force. As the president of the College Music Society (CMS), I am working toward diversifying music in higher education. With the art that I make and bring to Denver, I am trying to provide a platform for artists placing the conversation about racism in the forefront of the public’s consciousness.
Toward that end, in October, CAM will welcome world-renowned artist Awadagin Pratt, whose transdisciplinary work infuses music, visual art, and narrative to explore racism and social injustice in America. I am thrilled to have Pratt join us October 3-6th as an artist in residence and look forward to experiencing the collaborative work Pratt and the faculty and students in CAM create.
4. How do you personally get into a creative state of mind? Are there certain rituals or practices you employ to get to a mental place where you can create?
All entrepreneurial and artistic projects are local by nature. So, connecting with curious, creative people, understanding the unique resources a place like CAM and Denver have to offer, and then affording myself enough time to explore divergent connections across diverse ideas and opportunities is where I love to start building out project creation. Next, the incubation of ideas is critical: time to allow my subconscious to explore ideas away from deliberate thought or planning. But once I’ve locked in on the artistic pursuits I want to take on, I converge and act so that I can bring those ideas to life.
5. You were recently named a Jake Jabs Center Faculty Fellow, part of CU Denver’s Business School. What do you plan to do as a Fellow?
I plan to author the 2nd edition of a book I wrote in 2018 (The 21CM Introduction to Music Entrepreneurship) so that it reflects the breadth of the arts found within CAM and the world. Specifically, I want to make explicit within the book the essential role artists play in society.
As the world becomes increasingly uncertain, one thing is becoming clearer: The need for artists, with their power to connect us through their music, stories, and images, has never been greater.
The broader goals are to help artist-entrepreneurs:
envision a world in which art is repositioned at the center of our communities.
create artistic moments informed by the breadth of global traditions and inspired by the vitality of Denver’s local assets, inspiration, and potential.
lead collaborative teams as visionary leaders and skilled administrators, thereby fostering inclusive cultures, advocating for art’s role in society, funding ideas, and influencing public policy.