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MAC Students Share Intense L.A. Visit

HEC’s Master degree in Media, Art and Creation (MAC) reached its 2019 climax in March with a weeklong induction into the cultural riches of Los Angeles. 41 students took the Californian capital by storm in a study trip featuring 110 meetings with the cultural sector’s movers-and-shakers. On April 1, they shared their conclusions with MAC Alumni and academics.

HEC Paris - Médias, Art et Création - April 1, 2019 - Spectacle

In its 170-year history, the rotunda at the foot of the Champs-Elysées had probably never seen such a transformation of its theater into the US West Coast’s iconic city. Indeed, inspired by Sunset Boulevard and the annual Oscar ceremony, HEC MAC students repainted the Théâtre du Rond-Point into a self-styled “Culture Blvd”. For the space of a balmy April evening, they blended humor, information and entertainment in retracing their experience in what LA authorities call “the entertainment capital of the world, a cultural Mecca”.

The 2018-2019 MAC promotion chose the City of Angels for their end-of-year study trip because it is one of several metropolises labeled by UNESCO as “creative cities” (the Cairn review described it as “an emblematic case of the contemporary creative city”).  “These are strategically focused on cultural industries which we study (visual arts, cinema, literature, music, numeric arts, gastronomy…),” noted the students in a blog entry before they embarked on a flight to LAX.

HEC Paris - Thomas Paris
Thomas Paris

Successful Fishing Expedition

A month later, they were sharing their experiences with a packed auditorium of students and MAC Alumni. And the compliments for their endeavor and zeal rained down. “First let me say to you all ‘Bravo!’” exclaimed MAC Academic Director Thomas Paris, as he accepted an honorary ‘Oscar’ from the hands of the student MCs. “Organizing and executing this trip was a complex project which showed your commitment and communal spirit. Tonight, you created an atmosphere resembling a return from a successful fishing expedition: you survived the storms and proudly exhibited your catch.”

The evening-long event reflected the acumen of the HEC students in assembling 110 meetings with representatives ranging from historically established top brass (Warner Bros, Sony, Dreamworks); to numeric giants currently spawning 21st century empires (Netflix, Hulu, Playstation Now). But the students also had time to delve into the city’s vibrant underground scene (So (Lo)Cal, Vans Warped Tour, The Wallis). “This allowed us also to see the extremes in LA,” noted students Marion and Mathilde. “Downtown LA has been abandoned for the past 20 years and it’s become a magnet for the world’s largest homeless community, 2 million people. In some ways, the underground LA scene nourishes this symbolic schism between rich and poor.”

Diplomatic Wall Bars Student

Arguably, the only downside to the LA trip was the absence of one of the most popular and engaged MAC students, Rand Darjani. Inexplicably, the Lebanese architect was refused a visa. Despite repeated efforts by the HEC administration and academics to persuade US representatives in Paris of the importance of her participation, she was forced to follow the trip from afar. After the evening presentation, her fellow-students presented Rand with gifts and messages of solidarity. Like the other MAC participants, she now prepares to engage in the final part of the program, a six-month internship in a cultural field of her choice.

Alumni Network

This first such gathering was also destined to unite MAC students with their elders in a Master program which celebrates its 32nd birthday this year. At the Théâtre, Alumni outnumbered the current generation three-to-one and applauded the MAC initiative to densify the graduate networks. They also shared the findings of a survey conducted under the title “Entreprendre dans la culture” (“Investing in Culture”). For this work, 135 students and Alumni shared their opinions on numeric innovation, GAFA, HEC experience in the field, attitudes of government and local authorities, and the challenges for cultural initiatives. The conclusions revealed both the dynamism of a unique French cultural sector and the obstacles towards a rich and successful career. “More and more,” concluded Thomas Paris, “we see the need for a strong network between MAC graduates and the upcoming student batches. This year, the latter have shown their organizational skills and resilience. Now, they need your help to open the doors and boulevards to this wonderful but challenging sector.”