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Business school used to be about getting a job in corporate finance or marketing, but increasingly schools are developing programmes in the less lucrative sectors of arts management and non-profits.

The programmes are proving popular with students and organisations alike, so much so that Edhec Business School in France has signed up the Canadian entertainment group Cirque du Soleil as sponsors of its one-year degree in creative business.

Daniel Lamarre, president and chief executive of Cirque du Soleil, says the relationship is intended to generate ideas for the company. “When I see a university I see young people with a lot of creative talent,” he says. “If I meet and talk to 30 students, already three want to meet me and pitch to me.”

When asked if the relationship with Edhec will result in projects, internships and jobs for students, his answer is simple: “All of the above.”

The collaboration with Cirque du Soleil is proving popular among students too, in part because the company is showcased in class, with Edhec professors teaching a case study about the entertainment company. “They are one of the only companies that have the cultural and artistic side and the social [responsibility] side,” says Miren Garaicoechea, a student on the programme who wants to work in corporate philanthropy when she graduates.

Students on Edhec’s MSc in Creative Business are taught arts management in the first semester and social innovation in the second. It was this that Etienne Bouvier, a student on the degree, found particularly attractive. Moreover, he is now studying for part of his programme at HEC in Montreal, the home of Cirque du Soleil. Eleven of the 40 masters students are studying in Montreal, and along with Mr Bouvier will visit the headquarters of Cirque du Soleil while in Canada, to talk to executives and performers. On graduation he hopes to work as an executive producer in the movie business.

Isabelle Sequeira, programme director of the MSc in Creative Business says the degree is designed specifically to promote careers in arts and cultural management. “Like any business school, we have to train people in creative business.” She now hopes that the fledgling relationship with Cirque du Soleil will develop into a long-term alliance.

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