Kennesaw State receives gift from Joel Katz for music and entertainment program

By Maria Saporta

Thanks to a gift from leading entertainment attorney Joel Katz, Kennesaw State University announced today that it will launch an Entertainment and Music Management Certificate Program in the fall 2010.

Katz said he was willing to underwrite the program because he would like to see more people enter the entertainment business in metro Atlanta.

“I think this will help grow the business in Atlanta,” Katz said. “One of the problems is finding people to do the business side of our business. You start looking for people to do the business side of it, and you end up importing them from New York or Los Angeles.”

Katz, an attorney with Greenberg Traurig, said he hopes the certificate program will grow into a full degree program that will be competitive with those offered in New York, southern California and Orlando.

The certificate program is a joint effort between Kennesaw’s College of the Arts and its Coles College of Business. That will give students majoring in either arts or business an opportunity to focus on the entertainment and music management side of the business.

Katz also has pledged to invest much more than just money into the program.

“I’m going to lead a campaign to raise both money and support from prominent individuals in the entertainment business in Atlanta,” Katz said. “I want this to be successful, and I’m going to lend my energy, enough time and enough of my relationships to make this work.”

Katz began his career in entertainment law in 1971 when his first client, James Brown, need legal help. Although he didn’t have experience in the field, Katz immersed himself in legal issues involved in the music and entertainment industry.

His practice grew to include Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, Renée Fleming, Julio Iglesias, Michael Jackson (and his estate) and many others. He also is the general counsel for the Recording Academy and Farm Aid Inc.

Those contacts could be invaluable in the creation of this new certificate program, and Katz said he was committed to leveraging his relationships for the benefit of Kennesaw State College’s expansion into the entertainment and music industry.

Katz, however, would not disclose the size of his gift other than saying, “it’s a substantial amount of money.”

In a press release, Joseph Meeks, dean of the KSU College of the Arts, said: “We could not launch this program without the support of Joel Katz.”

The matchmaker between Katz and Kennesaw was Dr. Bobbie Bailey, a longtime Kennesaw State University trustee and benefactor. The new performance hall at Kennesaw is named in her honor.

“I got into the fabric of Kennesaw State through Bobbie Bailey,” Katz said. “She introduced me to Dan Papp, the president, and I liked him. Bobbie Bailey is a very dear friend of mine going back more than 35 years. She was one of the first people I met in Atlanta.”

Katz also said her love for the entertainment and music business were key in his decision to make the gift to Kennesaw. The certificate program will be named after Katz.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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