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Can you / should you study Arts Management ?

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Well there’s an interesting question for you to ponder. Ever since the illustrious professors of City University created the very first Arts Administration course in the 1970s (…its was the first wasn’t it ?), there have been a plethora of opportunities to study the gentle art, science and passion of arts management.

I have just been appointed to be Course Leader on the MA Arts Management course at Anglia Ruskin University. A one day a week role taking over from the highly experienced Pam Pfromer who has moved to audience development pastures new.  Tomorrow I meet students from across the UK, Brazil, China, Kenya, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Each has arrived to take the MA and to use it as a stepping stone on their career.

In the old days you just did it. You worked your way up to Theatre Manager. This probably involved all publicity, front of house, show booking, audience development, staff management, building maintenance, accounts and show settlements – well it certainly did when I started as Assnt to the Theatre Manager at Bristol.  Now there are requirements for each of these functions to be separated across different staff. There are courses for each and everyone. There are associations you can join. There are international associations and networks.  There is much to learn.  It’s a much tougher world now with Arts Council, local councils, DCMS, Lottery Funds and all manner of organisations seeking Key Performance Indicators and doorstop reports from the Arts Manager.

My fascination over the next 24 weeks of teaching the Marketing module, and acting as a Personal Tutor/course leader, is to see the balance between theory and practice. How many of my cohort are there to focus on research and academic study; How many are there to gain connections and network within the business; And how many are using the opportunity to study in Cambridge and take that MA back into their existing organisation and move on up the career tree.
I’m excited to meet this international gathering. I suspect I will learn a great deal. I hope I will give them some good insights gleaned from 30 years “doing it”.  I look forward to meeting my colleague lecturers who sound a fascinating mix of people.   And I look forward to finding this esteemed bunch some great places for work experience during the year.


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