Building a lasting legacy and the future of arts leadership in Canada: In conversation with Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre

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Peter Herrndorf is often called the “godfather of Canadian arts,” and given his remarkable career and groundbreaking accomplishments as President and CEO of the National Arts Centre (NAC) for nearly twenty years, it is easy to understand why. Peter is also a member of the MMIAM International Advisory Committee. He will be leaving the NAC at the end of May to pursue exciting new opportunities in Toronto. Laura Adlers had the pleasure of meeting with Peter recently to talk about Canada’s unique national cultural institution, what makes a good arts manager, and the future of arts leadership in Canada.

The National Arts Centre is a unique place in the arts world, both in Canada and internationally. What makes it so unique?

There is nothing like the National Arts Centre anywhere in the world. To start with, it is national, it is multidisciplinary (with a national orchestra, dance program and theatre programs) and it is bilingual. In the last two years, we added one other element, which is that we now run three theatre companies: English, French and Indigenous. Then we add the fact that we run educational programs right across the country, from British Columbia to Nunavut to Newfoundland. We are the only arts organization in the country that actively fundraises in every province in the country.  We are also a federal crown corporation that is highly entrepreneurial. The entrepreneurial side of the organization is critical, because it has allowed us to do a lot of our national and international projects.

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The Kipnes Lantern at the National Arts Centre. (Photo courtesy of the National Arts Centre.)

When we did our tour with the NAC Orchestra to China in 2013, we raised about $1.4 million privately, almost all of it from individuals. We were able to raise all of the funds privately for the UK tour commemorating the 100th anniversary of Canadians going to war in England in 1914. When we organized our Canada Scene festival for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, 1000 artists came here from all over the country and we raised that money from multiple sources. So, we are very entrepreneurial in a way that very few government organizations are, and all of these factors together make it a very unusual place.

With that of course comes a level of pluralism that is beyond any arts organization I have seen. This in turn poses fascinating and unique management challenges, which is part of the reason I love this job.

We also do a lot of touring. In 2017, as part of the Canada 150 celebrations, we had three tours going on at the same time. We were doing a national tour with the orchestra – first to Eastern Canada, then to Western Canada and then to the North. We did an English Theatre tour of Molière’s Tartuffe to Newfoundland, and we did a French Theatre tour of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show  through Ottawa, Montréal, and then headed West. For an organization to do three tours of three different disciplines all at once was pretty exciting. Next year, the orchestra will celebrate the NAC’s 50th anniversary with a European tour.

The NAC Orchestra’s tour of China was a great case study in cultural diplomacy and building important cross-cultural partnerships. Can you tell our readers a bit more about this tour?

For the China tour, we were able to get a small but meaningful amount of money from Foreign Affairs (now Global Affairs) under John Baird, who was the Minister at the time. We told him we thought we could leverage the government funding about 6:1, and we did that in terms of raising private funding. As a result, we went to China with the tour fully paid in advance, and that allowed us to add other elements. We made sure that an Ottawa trade mission came with us, and that the Canada-China Business Council had their annual meeting while we were there. We persuaded the Minister of Foreign Affairs to be there and we brought the Governor General with us. We had several hundred Canadians with us on this tour!

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The NAC Orchestra at Southam Hall in Ottawa under the musical direction of Alexander Shelley. (Photo courtesy of the National Arts Centre.)

You will be retiring from the NAC at the end of the month. During your tenure, you have led many strategic initiatives which have transformed the NAC in myriad ways. What are some of these initiatives?

I have been here a long time, so there are a lot, but let me just mention a few. The very first one has to be the creation of the NAC Indigenous Theatre and then, a year later, the announcement of the appointment of Kevin Loring as the theatre’s first Artistic Director. This was such an emotional experience. There were hundreds of people at this press conference, which of course included Indigenous ceremony. People had flown in from across the country to be there. We all understood this was an historic moment in our collective history. Since then, we have put together the core of the team for the theatre and will launch in September 2019. At the time, I said that I wished we had done this 50 years ago, but really the fact that we have English, French and Indigenous theatres at the NAC reflects the new way in which we see Canada, and not the way we saw the country 50 years ago.

The second thing is that we did consultations across the country 10 years ago and came to the conclusion that one of the great weaknesses in the arts in Canada was that not enough was being done in terms of new creation in music, theatre and dance. Part of it was lack of funding, part of it was lack of time, part of it was lack of appropriate facilities, so we launched a $25 million campaign across Canada to raise venture capital for artists and arts organizations. We were successful with that campaign, particularly in Western Canada. It is very unusual for an Ottawa-based organization to be that successful with fundraising in another part of the country, and for such an unusual cause as well. This money is not for a tour or a new production, but is going to be used to invest in the development of new projects. A little over a year ago, we announced the first-ever National Creation Fund and Heather Moore took over running that. On June 8, we are going to announce the first ten investment decisions under this program and in the fall, we will announce another ten.

The third would be the Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal Projects which together have not only changed the face of the National Arts Centre, but have also brought our performance facilities back to something close to state of the art. For years and years, we were an organization that had its back to the city and the capital. We faced the canal, with our back to the city, and that was somehow metaphorical. We were sending a subliminal message that the public is not really welcome here. It was dark and gloomy and a bit forbidding. So we have flipped the building, so it is now facing Elgin Street and the capital. It is more open and transparent. We want people to drop in for free events and activities, come in for coffee, meet with friends, use the place as a community hub, and of course, we would also be happy if they bought a ticket to see a show, but it is much more than that now. We hired 14 college and university students as welcome staff and their only job is to be there for people coming into the building to tell them about the place. So, not only has the NAC changed from an architectural point of view, but the biggest change is the psychology and sensibility of the place.

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“Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave,” a co-production of the NAC. (Photo courtesy of the National Arts Centre.)

In 2017, for Canada 150, we made a significant investment in partnering with the Canadian Opera Company to remount Harry Somers’ and Mavor Moore’s opera Louis Riel, arguably one of the most important Canadian operas ever produced.

The creation of the NAC Foundation was very important. It signalled to other crown corporations across the country that they can be both a crown and enterpreneurial. While it is important to receive government funding, it is even more important that you generate revenue from other sources. The NAC Foundation has raised about $140 million over the last 15 years, so it has made a huge difference for the organization.

Finally, I am very proud of the quality of the management team and the artistic leadership at the NAC. We have very strong teams. Gender parity is in the news a lot lately, and we quietly point out that of seven Artistic Directors at the NAC, five of them are women. The artistic team is arguably the best combined artistic leadership team in North America. There are places where you go to work because you need to, and there are places where you go because you really want to, and this is one of those places. People really like working here.

How many staff do you manage at the NAC and how would you describe your style of management?

There are about 900 people on average who work here full and part-time, including the executive and administrative staff, the artistic staff and the second-shift staff – the very important people who work at our shows in the evenings.

My management style is about setting a clear direction, finding the necessary resources to achieve our goals, hiring exceptional people, being a cheerleader for the team, and then managing with a light touch. The Artistic Director of English Theatre doesn’t need me to tell her what to do. She knows very well what needs to be done. The Artistic Directors and administrative staff work for me theoretically, but this is a pluralistic organization, and if the CEO has charted a clear path and hired the right people, they should be left to follow that path and the CEO should give them the space to do so.

I get quite involved in terms of helping with government relations, branding, shaping and managing the organization, rather than managing the day-to-day operations. I see myself much more as a leader than an administrator. I also make the distinction about the past, the present and the future. My job is almost entirely about the future. There are other people on my team who concentrate on the past and the current. That is a very important distinction.

What specific qualities do you look for when you are hiring an arts manager that are unique to the industry?

The first is sensibility, which includes a tolerance for ambiguity, something which is essential when working with artists and arts organizations, and especially an organization as complex as the NAC. If you believe everything is black and white, you are in the wrong place! The other thing in terms of sensibility is EQ – Emotional Quotient – which is key to working in this environment.

The second is experience. Because this organization is so big and complicated, I want to see that candidates have gained significant experience elsewhere, that they have already had successes and failures elsewhere, and that they have learned from those experiences.

The third is leadership skills.  As I said earlier, I believe leadership skills are more important than pure administrative skills.

The fourth would be a passion for the arts. We do 1,300 performances a year here, so if that is not of interest to you, you should probably work somewhere else!

The fifth is a “light touch” management style. The most effective managers at the NAC have this quality, which is very important. It doesn’t mean they are pushovers, but it means they achieve their goals without making a federal case of everything or micromanaging.

The sixth is having the ability to collaborate and work well with others.

I am looking for people who are risk-takers, people who have the ability to build partnerships, the ability to keep their egos in check and, finally, people with strong analytical skills.

If I can find all of these qualities in a candidate, they will probably do very well at the NAC!

Why do you think studies in international arts management are important for the profession and for the cultural sector?

The big change that is happening at the NAC is that we do so much that is international and someone who has international training has begun to understand the necessary international sensibility. I think about Cathy Levy, the Artistic Director of the NAC Dance program. Cathy is the ultimate international figure. She is brilliant at showcasing Canadian artists, but she is also so good at working with Israel, China and Argentina, for example, so her dance world really is international. People working with her have to have those kinds of international skills.

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“OCD LOVE” by Israeli dance company L-E-V. (Photo by Regina Brocke, courtesy of the National Arts Centre.)

The NAC French Theatre does a great deal of work with France. The NAC Orchestra is very much international in terms of its activities. We do a lot of work with international promoters, so a national organization like ours works on an international scale and people who only function on a local level are going to have problems. Everything is more interconnected now, thanks to social media and the way we do business, so those who are as comfortable working with colleagues in Oslo as they are with fellow Canadians are going to be more successful at an organization like the NAC. I think that other Canadian business schools are realizing that they have to emphasize the international much more in their curriculum.

There has been a lot of discussion in Canada about the fact that many of our cultural institutions are hiring arts leaders from outside Canada, rather than hiring Canadian talent.  What do you think is behind this trend and what should we be doing to ensure we are training and retaining arts leaders for middle management and executive positions?

First of all, I am deeply troubled that a lot of these jobs are not going to Canadians. Listen, I like the people who have been hired for these executive positions, but my concern is that Canadians didn’t get the jobs. I think there are a couple of reasons for it. First, we don’t have enough large organizations that can systematically train people for these CEO positions. We tend to have a few large ones and a lot of small to mid-sized organizations, which is not ideal for preparing people professionally for these kinds of jobs.

Secondly, I don’t think there is enough professional development for people who are potential high flyers. I’ll give you an example. When I went to Harvard Business School, the organization that sent the most people to the school was the US military. They had decided that the future of the US military was with an Officer Corps that was much better educated, must better prepared intellectually, so they went to business schools and PhD programs and decided to really develop their personnel in this way.

We have never said as a country that we have to develop Canadian talent in the cultural sector, both on the artistic side and the management side. We have to make a commitment that this is important to us. It is terrific that Karen Kain is the Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada, but we have to ensure that while she is there, we are preparing the next generation, so that when she retires, we have a couple of stellar Canadian candidates waiting in the wings who have a good shot at that position. The same thing goes for all of our major Canadian cultural organizations.

I have started conversations with the Banff Centre, for example, to see if they could begin professional development programs for those who are one job away from this level of leadership, so that there are intensive programs with ten or twelve other people in the same situation, both on the artistic and management side. I think the business schools themselves need to do this for professionals. Harvard does it brilliantly for their Advanced Management Program and their Professional Development for Managers Program. We need to create similar programs, because it is a real issue and it needs to be addressed. I have never seen it made a priority in this country. We frequently lose the really talented mid-career managers to the United States, and they are earning much better salaries in the US than they could ever make in Canada. The Canadian government has to recognize that it is a big deal that we train and help develop the careers of Canadians to run our cultural organizations.

You have had a fascinating career, starting out in journalism and reinventing yourself several times in executive leadership roles in broadcasting and publishing before coming to the National Arts Centre. What does it take to reinvent yourself? Do you have any advice for those who are considering moving into a new career in the cultural sector?

I was speaking with someone yesterday about the therapeutic value of being scared half to death! I have gone through several moments in my professional life when I had to start all over again, and each time I went from being somebody who was completely comfortable with the issues and the field I was in to going into a field where I knew effectively nothing. And it’s scary, it’s healthy, there’s a flood of new learning, it’s stimulating, it’s exciting and harrowing. And it’s really good for you, because it keeps you fresh and on your toes.

Ottawa, ON: NOVEMBER 21, 2008 – National Arts Centre CEO Peter Herndorff in Southam Hall Theatre. Photo by David Kawai

National Arts Centre CEO Peter Herndorff in Southam Hall Theatre. Ottawa, ON: November 21, 2008. (Photo: David Kawai.)

When I moved into publishing and I showed up for my first day of work, I thought they would all think I was a fraud, because I had never worked in publishing before. The first year was really tough, a steep learning curve. The second year was a bit easier, but the third year was exhilarating, because I had learned a whole new career.

The same happened when I went from broadcasting to the performing arts here at the NAC. The common denominator with all of my career moves was my passion and success at running creative organizations, but otherwise they were very different fields. I also had a reputation for coming into organizations that were in a bit of trouble, but my real transferable skill was that I knew how to work with creative people, people who did not work well with authority, who were very individualistic in their work.

When I left the CBC at 42, I was truly starting over again, but if I hadn’t made that move back then, my life would have been completely different. As it was, it was much more interesting doing a whole bunch of things, starting again, learning again, developing new muscles.

In this day and age, no one is staying in a career or any job for 30 or 40 years anymore.  Millennials and older generations will be changing careers several times over the course of their working lives, so it is important for them to develop the skills to be able to do that.

What are your plans for the next chapter of your life?

I am going to become a Senior Resident and Chair of Arts at Massey College, University of Toronto as of June. I was there for a year in 1998-1999. It is a very interesting environment, because there are Senior Fellows who are major scholars, there are post-graduate students, it is a real hothouse environment, so I am looking forward to that.

I have also agreed to become Chairman of the Board of the Luminato Festival in Toronto and start that in September. I am in the process of negotiating with another organization in Canada about taking a part-time job with them. I am still deciding about that, but if I have these three things to work on, that should either get me into trouble or keep me out of trouble!

Facilitating professional development for arts managers in Alberta: In conversation with Derek Stevenson, Arts Leadership Manager at The Rozsa Foundation

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Derek Stevenson graduated from the second cohort of the MMIAM program in 2015.  He entered the program with a B.A. in theatre and a B.Mgt. in finance from the University of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada). He was the Artistic Director and General Manager of TheatreXtra, the university’s student-run theatre company. After graduation, he worked for the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator and later as the Assistant to the Executive Director. We caught up with him recently to find out why he decided to apply to the MMIAM program and what he is doing now.

Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies in international arts management?

My decision was two-fold: one was my search for something more than what Lethbridge had to offer, the other was my interest in traveling and exploring. I knew what I wanted to do with my career, but I knew my opportunities were limited where I was. I began to seek out professional development courses and further training in arts management and it eventually led me to the MMIAM program. The program itself seemed like a perfect fit for both my professional and personal growth, so I took the leap and applied!

Where are you currently working and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am working for two different organizations now. I am the General Manager of New West Theatre in Lethbridge, where I have been working to revitalize and establish the organization as a premier theatre in Canada. I also recently began working for the Rozsa (pronounced “rosé,” like the wine) Foundation in Calgary as the Arts Leadership Manager. This particular role is very connected to the work I did in the MMIAM program as I facilitate professional development programs for arts managers in Alberta. I have incorporated some of the material from my MMIAM studies into my own courses and continue to develop and tweak our offerings to help build capacity in the cultural sector in the province.

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Derek teaching a seminar at the Rozsa Foundation in Calgary, Alberta. (Photo: Rozsa Foundation.)

Which MMIAM courses were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

When I look back on the program I find I use skills from many courses in my daily work life. The courses which were most relevant to my interests were probably the cultural policy and economics courses at Southern Methodist University taught by Kathleen Gallagher. I have always been interested in public policy in the arts, particularly when it comes to government funding. My thesis was directly connected to these courses as I focused on municpal tax policies that fund arts and culture initiatives. I referenced quite a bit of information in my thesis from those two courses, and I am to this day still updating my research as I recently presented it to Creative Calgary, an organization advocating for increased funding to the arts and culture sector in Calgary.

What did you gain personally and professionally from living and studying in four different countries with students from around the world?

Growing up, going to school and working in the same city gave me a pretty closed off perspective of the world of arts and culture. Travelling and studying abroad gave me an opportunity to become more independent, gain confidence in my knowledge, and broaden my perspectives on what arts and culture management means in other countries.

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Derek with MMIAM classmates at Monserrate mountain in Bogotá, Colombia, 2015. (Photo: MMIAM.)

What is one of the greatest challenges facing arts managers in your home country today? How do you think these challenges need to be addressed and by whom?

I find this question particularly challenging to answer on a national level, as I think the struggles of arts managers differ from region to region in Canada. However, one thing that is being talked about a lot lately in Canada is how we are developing and growing Canadian arts leaders. Many of the large arts institutions in Canada have been hiring people from the United Kingdom and the United States to take on leadership roles. I think that Canada has many bright, innovative and talented leaders who need an opportunity to prove themselves on a larger scale, but they are not given the chance. The MMIAM program and the Rozsa Foundation are at the forefront of training the next generation of arts leaders, and I think this is an important part of addressing this issue.

During your study year, you produced a very interesting project to help promote the MMIAM program. Can you tell us about it?

My friend and colleague John Wells and I worked on developing a video marketing project for the program. We had so many fantastic opportunities while travelling the world to see incredible performances, attend festivals, see new cities, and take in unique cultural experiences that we wanted a way to capture all of that. John was integral to this project as he worked tirelessly on editing, directing and producing the video. I was an assistant at best, but I was thrilled to be a part of it and happy to get to share our year of adventures with future cohorts.

MMIAM cohorts are an interesting part of the program, since they are small groups of international students.  Are you still in contact with people from your cohort?

I am still in contact with many of my cohort friends. I have been lucky to have had opportunities to travel to Europe since the program ended, as well as across Canada to visit with a few of my colleagues, which has been extremely rewarding for me. I truly feel like we became a little family in that year and I am always looking for opportunities to travel and visit my MMIAM colleagues.

Value Creation by and Evaluation of US Arts Incubators (Abridged)

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By Linda Essig

Until recently – either within the business discipline of entrepreneurship studies or across the disciplines of arts and cultural policy or community development – there has been little research on arts incubators, their strategic goals, their forms and funding models, or their evaluation methods. A review of extant research suggests that arts incubators play a role in early-stage development of arts-based enterprises and arts organizations as well as capacity-building for individual artists (Essig 2014; Gerl 2000). Arts incubators may also serve a community development function (Grodach 2011; Phillips 2010). This study asks three questions: How do arts incubators of various types create value for their stakeholder communities? How do arts incubators evaluate their success at creating the value? What is the relationship between the evaluation methods and strategic priorities of arts incubators?

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Participants practicing their elevator pitch at Center for Cultural Innovation’s ART>NET>WORK workshop. June, 2017. Los Angeles, CA. (Photo: John Endow)

Through a qualitative cross-case analysis of four arts incubators of different types, the research opens the black box of incubator operations to find that arts incubators create value for client artists and arts organizations through both direct service provision and indirect echo effects, but that the provision of value to communities or systems is attenuated and largely undocumented. Despite issues surfaced through the study, arts incubators remain a potentially impactful tool for supporting cultural entrepreneurship. This article addresses potential policy outcomes of arts incubators as articulated in the literature, the ways in which arts incubators deliver services to their stakeholders, and the value that is created from that service delivery. Then, drawing on the cross-case analysis, it considers smart practices or best practices for value generation and evaluation in arts incubators.

Case Studies
The four case study subjects were chosen purposively to represent four different types of incubator (artist-serving, creative entrepreneur-serving, arts organization-serving, community-serving); geographic range (Pacific Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, California); and sectoral diversity (public, non-profit, private). Site visits were made to each of the four incubators, during which incubator leadership, staff, clients and supporters were interviewed and site observations conducted. Interview transcripts, published materials, observation notes and internal documents provided by the programs constitute the data for analysis.

The value proposition of Arlington County Arts Incubator in Arlington, VA is “to provide free space and services to arts organizations so that they can focus on organizational development and programming excellence.” Intersection of the Arts in San Francisco, CA has a broader range of services, including providing space for the development and production of artistic/creative products; space for the exhibition, performance or sale of artistic products; cooperative marketing; centralized business services; business classes or business training; arts business informational resources; and, most significantly, fiscal sponsorship. The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) serves individual artists throughout the state of California from its offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  CCI’s mission is “to promote knowledge sharing, networking and financial independence for individual artists and creative entrepreneurs by providing business training, grants, and incubating innovative projects that create new program knowledge, tools and practices for artists in the field.”1 Mighty Tieton is a loose affiliation of business entities located in the small rural community of Tieton, Washington. Mighty Tieton LLC owns a renovated fruit warehouse that is home to several creative businesses and a gallery space, and is one of the few commercial (for-profit) incubator enterprises identified in the typology research (Essig 2014) and provides space and informal business-planning advice to creative businesses and other businesses in town.

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Tieton Mosaic. (Courtesy of Mighty Tieton.)

Cross-Case Analysis
Arts incubators provide services to artists, arts organizations and creative enterprises. Analysis of the four cases indicates that the value created by arts incubators lies not in the services delivered per se but, rather, in the positive effect of such services on the ability of stakeholders to achieve their objectives by lowering barriers, conferring legitimacy, cushioning risk and, in some cases, enhancing individual or organizational self-sufficiency. The incubators have some characteristics in common. In all cases, the incubator plays some part in lowering barriers to entrepreneurial action and helps its clients, directly or indirectly, to connect their means with their ends (see Essig 2015; Shane and Venkatataman 2000). Differences are observed in strategic priorities and organizational culture. These differences are evidenced in the ways in which the organizations evaluate their own success and that of their clients. There are also similarities – for example, for the most part evaluation takes place at the client level rather than at the program or organizational level.

Several themes and characteristics emerge from a look across all four cases: arts incubators are in a state of change; arts incubator affiliation provides a “seal of approval”; arts incubators provide a safety net against risk; arts incubators strive to support artist or client group self-sufficiency but are not always successful; success is defined and measured locally; evaluation is considered important but is implemented inconsistently.

Evaluating Arts Incubator Success
Business incubator evaluation tends to focus on the assessment of firms within incubators rather than on the incubators themselves (see Mian 2014). The same appears to be true of arts incubators. In general, evaluation processes occur at the client level, where the success of the incubator is measured by the success of its clients rather than at the level of the incubator programs or in relation to their strategic goals.

Recommendations and Conclusions
Arts incubators, like many small organizations, tend to look retrospectively at outputs rather than at the processes that convert inputs into tangible impacts, or means into ends. Despite these issues, arts incubators remain a potentially impactful tool of cultural policy if their processes and activities align with their strategic goals and if those processes and activities are assessed formatively and summatively. The primary recommendation is that arts incubators adopt a program of formative and summative assessment that can be used to foster organizational learning and lead to evidence-based decision-making.

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My primary recommendation is that arts incubators adopt a program of formative and summative assessment that can be used to foster organizational learning and lead to evidence-based decision-making. Table 3 shows the variables that can be evaluated at the process, output and value-added levels across the strategic priorities articulated by the incubator stakeholders.

Finally, the only way to really know if an incubator is creating lasting value is to track the value-added (or “impact”) variables over time. This requires commitment on the part of the organization to build evaluation processes into its operations, gather data on a regular basis, analyze those data, and synthesize the results.

Notes
cciarts.org/Angie_Kim.html (accessed 20 July 2015)

References
Essig, L. 2014. Arts incubators: A typology. Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society 44(3), 169-80.

Essig, L. 2015. Means and ends: A theory framework for understanding entrepreneurship in the US arts and culture sector. Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society 45(3), 227-46.

Gerl, E. 2000. Incubating the arts: Establishing a program to help artists and arts organizations become viable businesses. Anthens, OH: NBIA Publications.

Grodach, C. 2011. Art spaces in community and economic development: Connections to neighbourhoods, artists, and the cultural economy. Journal of Planning Education and Research 31(1), 74-85.

Mian, S. 2014. 15 business incubation and incubator mechanisms. Handbook of research on entrepreneurship: What we know and what we need to know, A. Foyelle, ed. (pp. 335-66). Cheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Phillips, R.J. 2010. Arts entrepreneurship and economic development: Can every city be “austintatious”? Towards a psychology of entrepreneurship: An action theory perspective. Foundations and Trends® in Entrepreneurship 6(4), 239-313.

Shane, S., and S. Venkataraman. 2000. The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review 25(1), 217-26.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 2, Winter 2018

Developing Museum Audiences: Interview with Morgan Marks, Associate Director of Outreach at the Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum

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Morgan Marks (2014) is a graduate of the MMIAM program’s first cohort. As an undergraduate student, she completed a combined Bachelor of Science in Business Economics and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Morgan saw graduate studies in international arts management as a unique way to combine her business background with her passion for the arts. Laura Adlers recently caught up with her in Cheyenne, Wyoming to see where her career path has led since graduating from the MMIAM program.

 

 

Where are you currently working and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am the Associate Director of Outreach / Marketing Director at the Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am responsible for all print and digital media for the museum, including web design, writing press releases, managing TV and radio interviews, creating advertising and promotional pieces for our events. As the Associate Director of Outreach, I oversee the development, arts education and volunteer programs and staff for the organization.

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The CFD Old West Museum Hall of Fame Gallery. (Courtesy: The CFD Old West Museum)

Which MMIAM courses were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

All of the marketing courses, the financial management courses, the fundraising course and Kathleen Gallagher’s courses in cultural economics and cultural policy all had a huge impact on my work at the museum. I tap into all of this knowledge on some level on a daily basis.

What did you gain personally and professionally from living and studying in four different countries with students from around the world?

Personally, the connections and friendships that I formed with people in my cohort were invaluable. It sounds cliché, but I am a sentimental person and the people I met and worked with during my study year really are like family to me now. We shared so many experiences, especially as international students with our own unique cultural backgrounds. Professionally, these experiences helped me to gain a new perspective in my career.  It is so easy to get stuck in the idea that “this is how it has always been done”, and so much of what I experienced with my cohort and in my studies has given me the tools to try new things and move in new directions.

Which of the four MMIAM campuses was the most memorable for you and why?

Definitely our trip to Bogotá. That was where everything fell into place for me mentally,

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Street memorial for Gabriel García Márquez. (Courtesy: Morgan Marks)

where I understood the importance of my studies and how the cultural sector impacts people’s lives on a daily basis. The national library system really had an impact on me. The fact that it is built to be accessible to everyone and that everyone was welcome and encouraged to be there. We were also there days after the death of Gabriel García Márquez and witnessed the national mourning for Colombia’s most famous writer. People placed yellow butterflies everywhere in his memory, there was a makeshift memorial created on the street in his honour and we observed a moment of silence before a theatre performance at the Ibero-American Theatre Festival. It was very powerful to see a cultural figure respected and revered in this way, and to understand that he was such a big part of Colombia’s national identity. We don’t see this often in the United States.

What is one of the greatest challenges facing arts managers in your community today?

One challenge that the state of Wyoming and by extension the Cheyenne community is facing is this sense by Wyoming residents and tourists that our state has nothing to offer from a cultural perspective. In fact, Wyoming has six accredited museums, which is a lot for a state of our population size. Wyoming has five affiliate museums of the Smithsonian Institution, including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum, and the Draper Natural History Museum. Wyoming is also home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which has internationally recognized artists.

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Bronze artist Chip Jones creating his “quick draw” sculpture during the 2018 Western Spirit Art Show and Sale. (Courtesy: The CFD Old West Museum)

So our challenge as arts managers is that we not only have to put great effort into attracting international tourists and those from out of state to Wyoming, but we also have a challenge in convincing our own constituents that we have culturally-rich offerings.  Interestingly, our number one foreign tourists are Germans, who love all things Western, especially the rodeo! At Cheyenne Frontier Days, we have diehard local fans who visit us on a regular basis, but we have many who think that since they were here when they were kids, they have seen everything we have to offer, not realizing that exhibits are always changing and we have interesting events happening here all the time.

Another challenge we face at the museum which is common for the whole state is finding a balance between accessibility and exclusivity and engaging the community at different levels. We have an exhibit right now, for instance, for which we charge $45 a ticket for the opening reception, which is geared more towards the general public, but at the beginning of the summer, just before the Frontier Days events, we have a big fundraising event at the museum which is $160 per person, targetted towards more exclusive constituents. All this is to say there is a great need for outreach and new approaches to audience development!

What are the current trends in the cultural sector in your community and what new opportunities are emerging for arts managers as a result?

We have a champion volunteer in Cheyenne, Bill Dubois, who is also Cheyenne’s official Historian Laureate, who is widely quoted as saying: “Volunteering is a Cheyenne thing to do!” and so we are in the enviable position of having a huge culture of volunteerism in our community and, at our museum anyway, far more volunteers than we can handle! This is also the case with our corporate sponsors, who encourage their employees to volunteer at events which they are sponsoring  It is a good problem to have as an arts manager, and it provides an opportunity for us as an organization to diversify the roles our volunteers may play and ensure we harness that enthusiasm and engage our volunteers in areas which play to their strengths and which are beneficial to our organization.

Adaptability, Understanding the International Arts Market Key to Success for International Arts Managers: In Conversation with MMIAM Professor Kathleen Gallagher

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Kathleen Gallagher is Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. Her interest in cultural policy, the arts and nonprofit management derive from an education which includes a B.A. in Art and Architectural Histories, an M.B.A. with emphases on marketing and arts management, an M.A. in Modern Art Connoisseurship and the History of the Art Market, and a Ph.D. in Public Affairs.  She is also a certified appraiser of fine arts.  Kathleen has been teaching in the MMIAM program since its inception. Laura Adlers was pleased to have an opportunity to speak with her recently to find out what she is teaching and working on now.

Which MMIAM courses do you teach at Southern Methodist University?

I teach two courses: Comparative International Cultural Policy and Cultural Economics and the International Art Market. In the Cultural Policy course we analyze cultural policy case studies from around the world and marry them with theory to help students understand how to interact with the public sector from a strategic advocacy standpoint. They develop the skills and tools necessary for civic engagement (writing positioning statements, policy briefs, talking points) and as a final project, they write an advocacy plan.

In the Cultural Economics course we analyze international case studies from all arts sectors, including the performing arts, museums, art galleries, publishing, film and television, and examine how key economic concepts affect and influence each sector.

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Professor Kathleen Gallagher talks with students of the International Comparative Cultural Policy class during a visit to the State Fair of Texas as part of a research project. (Photo courtesy: Kim Leeson)

 

You will be on a research sabbatical in the 2018 fall semester.  What will be the focus of your research?

My research centres around sub-national cultural policies that support sustainability of arts organizations, since this is an issue that the arts sector struggles with across the board.  I am looking at not only government funding policies, but also philanthropic and private sector funding. I am also looking at things like creative placemaking, capacity-building models and issues facing arts organizations with geographically dispersed populations.

What innovative ideas have you observed in the cultural sector in the United States which are leading the new wave in cultural management?

There are two that I can think of which are not really new, but we are looking at in new ways recently. The first is creative placemaking, which evolved from ideas about placemaking Jane Jacobs wrote about in the ‘60s. There has been a resurgence of this concept since around 2000, a renewed realization about the value that the cultural sector brings to authenticity of place, and that this can be scaled and taken on as a project for a community, a neighbourhood, a city, a region, even at a state level. Policymakers and communities are looking at how the arts fit in and help to sustain the population. We talk about cultural identity and how cultural economics can provide opportunities, for example, to smaller or dispersed communities and we are increasingly recognizing the heterogeneity of our landscape.

The second innovative idea is that of artist as entrepreneur. This is really not a new concept.  Artists have always been entrepreneurs. They have always had to build up their patrons and support outside of government support, but there are more programmes being created by local and state arts funding agencies to help facilitate training artists in basic business skills, helping them build up their networks through social marketing and other tools which help connect small businesses with other artists and businesses and encourage cross-promotion. There are also more and more cultural trails and cultural districts emerging which foster and provide business support to artists. This kind of support benefits the artist and helps their ability to continue creating art, which by extension trickles down to and further benefits the community in which they live and work.

Photo courtesy of Southern Methodist University, Hillsman S. Jackson

 

Why do you think the specific study of international arts management is important for the profession and for the cultural sector?

I think it all centers around being able to adapt easily and skillfully to diversity in today’s world. It is about working with colleagues, employers, donors, and business partners in diverse environments, going out into the world and having the ability to consider the context and adapt to any given situation. By going through this program, students observe and adapt to different faculty at different institutions in different countries, and work with a diverse student body and different cultural approaches to their studies and everyday life.

This all requires understanding cultural differences and working style, observing and processing this information, honing communication skills and finding ways of working together in the cohort. So not only does everyone in the cohort grapple with these concepts and ideas, but they also go through this in four different countries. I think this is such an amazing opportunity for the students and an important aspect of the program which should be highlighted to potential employers. In addition to the specialized course material, these life skills would be important and desireable to any employer who would have the wisdom to hire a MMIAM graduate.

Consumer Perceptions of Arts Organizations’ Strategies for Responding to Online Reviews (Abridged)

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by Jennifer Wiggins, Chanho Song, Dharti Trivedi, Stephen B. Preece

 

The shift towards Web-based communication has fundamentally changed the role of critical reviews in consumers’ decisions concerning attendance at arts events. In addition to professional critics, amateur critics and audience members are now influencing consumer decision-making (Bronner and de Hoog 2010). Consumers are reading and posting reviews before and after attending events (Kerrigan and Yalkin 2009), and the reach of online reviews extends far beyond that of reviews in newspapers or on broadcast media (Chen and Xie 2008; Libai et al. 2010). While critical reviews previously had a brief impact and then disappeared from public view, they are now archived online and are available at any time (Dellarocas et al. 2007). Arts organizations that previously could respond to reviews by quoting only positive aspects in their advertising (Basuroy et al. 2003) now must cope with the full text of mixed and negative reviews being available to potential audience members. Arts organizations must choose how to respond to these reviews in the new environment of critique.

While there has been extensive research on the impact of reviews on consumer behaviour, research on organizations’ strategic responses to reviews has been limited. Researchers have found that some response from the company consistently outperforms no response in minimizing negative emotions, creating positive attitudes towards the company, and increasing purchase intentions and future sales.

Yet this may not be the case for the arts. Negative information is a commonplace, expected outcome of the ongoing critique of artistic work by both professional critics and audience members. In this study the authors examine how consumers react to arts organizations’ strategic responses to mixed or negative online reviews.

They conducted two studies to examine four different strategic responses that reflect the strategies identified in previous studies by Johnson and colleagues (2016): offering no response to the review, quoting only the positive aspects of the review, posting a link to the full text of the review, and inviting consumers to respond to the review and thus attempting to engage them in a dialogue. The studies used two different website designs with the same information and rated each on four seven-point semantic differential items. Participants then read a critic review and responded to three seven-point semantic differential items.

Results of Study

Study 1 found that consumers react differently to strategic responses and that their preferences lean more towards full disclosure of critic reviews. Quoting positive aspects of the critic review led to higher scepticism and lower trust, ultimately leading to more negative attitudes towards the response and the theatre. In contrast, the strategies of posting a link to the full text of the review or inviting consumers to respond to the review led to lower scepticism, higher trust, and ultimately to more positive attitudes towards the response and the theatre. Surprisingly, this did not vary with the genre of the theatre, and it did not appear to have an effect on consumers’ likelihood of attending the play.

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Study 1: Traditional Web Site

Study 2 suggested that consumers viewed responses to critic and consumer reviews differently. For the critic reviews, linking to the full text and inviting consumers to respond were viewed equally positively, while offering no response was viewed only slightly more positively than quoting the positive aspects of the review. For consumer reviews, altering the review by quoting only the positive aspects led to the most negative response, with higher scepticism, lower trust, and more negative attitudes towards both the response and the theatre. Inviting consumers to respond to the review was still generally viewed positively, but also led to an increase in scepticism towards the response. Offering no response did not lead to less trust in the theatre or to a less positive attitude towards the theatre. This suggests that consumers perceive the best response to a consumer review to be to make it available unedited and not offer a response from the theatre or invite responses from other consumers.

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Study 2: Contemporary Web Site

Implications

These findings suggest that consumers do react differently to different strategies for responding to critique. The modern approach of altering or quoting from reviews generated distrust and scepticism and resulted in more negative attitudes towards the organization, while the postmodern strategy of providing access to the full text of reviews was viewed positively and led to more positive attitudes towards the organization.

While consumers do engage in communication among themselves and respond to each other’s comments on performances, it seems that participation of the organization in this dialogue is viewed as a violation of norms or expectations and not as an attempt to engage the audience.

Finally, in the postmodern environment of ubiquitous critique from multiple sources, consumers do not necessarily expect organizations to respond. Indeed, given the prevalence and availability of critique, particularly online, consumers may not perceive a need for organizations to engage directly with amateur critique or become part of the consumer dialogue.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that none of the response strategies had any impact on consumers’ likelihood of attending the play. Fear of a decrease in purchase intention, and subsequently ticket sales, is what drives the inclination to respond to negative reviews. Our results suggest that this concern may be exaggerated in the current review environment. Interestingly, consumers’ attendance decisions also did not appear to be highly influenced by the review itself, as rates for reported likelihood of attending were relatively high for the general population. Also, as the impact of a single negative review has decreased in the postmodern online environment of critique, there may no longer be a need to craft a strategic response to avoid a decrease in ticket sales.

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Image: stagemilk.com

These findings have clear implications for managers of arts organizations. Consumers are likely to reward arts organizations for providing open, unedited access to reviews and for engaging consumers in a dialogue surrounding a mixed or negative professional review. Organizations are likely best served by providing their most committed attendees with full access to reviews and enabling their audience to come to their defence if necessary.

The most important consideration, given the results of this study, are the long-term reputational advantages of open, transparent, genuine communication versus short-term transactional messages. Consistent and successful execution of this strategy over time will arguably encourage longer-term audience loyalty as well as an inclination towards other beneficial relationship support such as donations and sponsorships.

These results also suggest that audiences ultimately make up their own minds about what they want to attend instead of blindly reacting to reviews. The role of promotional efforts may need to evolve from one of convincing potential attendees that the presentation will be appealing to one of helping them know and understand what is being presented, enabling them to decide whether it will appeal to their tastes. This approach could engender a sense of trust and goodwill among potential attendees, reinforcing the message that audience well-being is the foremost concern over the long term.

The full study data and results can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 1 – Autumn 2017.

Basuroy, S., S. Chatterjee and S.A. Ravid. 2003. How critical are critical reviews? The box office effects of film critics, star power, and budgets. Journal of Marketing 67(4), 103‑17.

Bronner, F., and R. de Hoog. 2010. Consumer‑generated versus marketer‑generated websites in consumer decision making. International Journal of Market Research 52(2), 231‑48.

Chen, Y., and J. Xie. 2008. Online consumer review: Word‑of‑mouth as a new element of marketing communication mix. Management Science 54(3), 477‑91.

Dellarocas, C., X. Zhang and N.F. Awad. 2007. Exploring the value of online product reviews in forecasting sales: The case of motion pictures. Journal of Interactive Marketing 21(4), 23‑45.

Johnson, J.W., S.B. Preece and C. Song. 2016. How are arts organizations responding to critique in the digital age? Arts and the Market 6(1), 17-32.

Kerrigan, F., and C. Yalkin. 2009. Revisiting the role of critical reviews in film marketing. In Mashing‑up culture: The rise of user‑generated content, W.E. Hemmungs and M. Ryman, eds. (pp. 169‑86). Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Libai, B., R. Bolton, M.S. Bugel, K. de Ruyter, O. Götz, H. Risselada and A.T. Stephen. 2010. Customer‑to‑customer interactions: Broadening the scope of word of mouth research. Journal of Service Research 13(3), 267‑82.

Bringing the Business of the Arts Back to Bogotá: Interview with Daniela Alzate, Marketing Advisor to Teatro Colon

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Daniela Alzate (2014) is a graduate of the MMIAM program’s first cohort.  She completed undergraduate studies in piano performance in 2012 and was working as a piano teacher in a music academy in Bogotá, Colombia when she decided to apply to the MMIAM program. We asked her what influenced her decision to pursue graduate studies in international arts management and talked about where her studies have led her in her professional life.

What was your experience in arts management prior to applying to the program?

I didn’t have any experience at all. I finished my undergraduate studies in piano performance in 2012 and soon afterwards, I was flying to Dallas for the MMIAM program, so even my work experience was limited. I was working with children as a piano teacher for a music academy in Bogotá for one and a half years before moving to Dallas to begin the MMIAM, so my experience was more focused in music education rather than anything related to arts management.

Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies in international arts management?

When I was teaching piano, I knew that I was helping only one child at a time. I was not making a big impact on improving the cultural environment in my city. My decision to pursue graduate studies was mainly to learn about arts management and how I could help improve the cultural sector in Bogotá. In addition to working as a piano teacher, I also worked with an entrepreneurial friend at his business. Through him, I learned a lot about marketing and discovered a new field of knowledge that interested me.

I realized that I could use this knowledge to help artists in my country. In our music programs, musicians learn a lot about music history, performance, and so on, but not about how to face the real world of the arts once you finish university. There are no courses to teach them about this and they are left to learn on their own. I enjoyed teaching, but did not see myself doing that for my entire life and I saw an opportunity to help the cultural sector in Bogotá on the business side.

Where are you currently working and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am currently working as the Marketing Advisor to the Teatro Colon in Bogotá. I have many different responsibilities, including managing various aspects of box office operations, including determining ticket prices and promotional offers, the allocation of complimentary tickets and customer service; managing space rentals and coordinating all the ensuing requirements for rentals in the theatre; negotiating corporate event packages for different companies; creating and managing patron satisfaction and audience profile questionnaires; conducting market research for communications and programming purposes; and managing stewardship of all sponsors, including activating sponsorship benefits and writing follow-up reports.

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Teatro Colon in Bogotá, Colombia. (Image via teatrocolon.gov.co)

Which courses/what aspect(s) of the program were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

The marketing research course with Professor Alain D’Astous was very important for me. I am conducting a study right now to profile audience members and identify key demographics for different events. François Colbert’s marketing courses were very important for the work I am doing now as well. Perhaps the most applicable and useful course for me was the fundraising course in Dallas with JoLynne Jensen. Even though the reality of fundraising opportunities in the United States is very different from that of Bogotá, it helped me to understand how the fundraising process works in another country, how funds and sponsorship benefits are managed for an event, the element of publicity and media coverage, and so on.

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

From an academic perspective, definitely Montreal. It was a very interesting time in my studies, not just because I experienced living in wintertime, but also because, academically, it was a lot of work. Adapting to different environments was a good life skill to learn. The focus in Montreal was MBA-level marketing and was very demanding compared to the other countries.

Giving arts managers an edge in the international market: In conversation with François Colbert, Co-Director of the MMIAM

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colbertfrancois_2008-smallFrançois Colbert holds the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management at HEC Montréal and the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Management. He is also the Co-Director of the Master of Management in International Arts Management program.  Laura Adlers met with François recently via Skype and asked him how this program, now in its fifth year, is different from other arts management programs.

What is it about the MMIAM program that differentiates it from any other arts management graduate programs in the world?

First of all, this is the first program that is focussed specifically on international arts management, but more than that, it is the first program offered over one year in four international cities, with the experience of living in four different cities, adapting to new environments and truly living the international experience.  In addition, our cohorts are small (ideally 10-15 students), and are truly diverse in terms of their cultural backgrounds and experiences in arts management in their home countries.

Why were Dallas, Montreal and Milan chosen as the three main international campuses for the MMIAM program?

There are many graduate programs around the world which have arts management components as part of an MBA or which have business courses as part of an arts management graduate degree, but we are unique in that our course curriculum is taught by exceptional faculty at internationally-recognized business schools which also have great arts management programs.  The program idea was mine, but it really developed in partnership with Dr. Zannie Voss at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  Her reputation as a leading academic researcher and instructor in both the Cox School of Business MBA program and at the Meadows School of the Arts arts management program is well-known. This is why our two schools formed the foundation of the program.

Many people ask, “Why Dallas?” In fact, I was surprised when I visited Dallas for the first time at the incredible cultural district, which is a concentration of cultural facilities and arts organizations on 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks in downtown Dallas.  It is the largest arts district in the United States and is home to some of the city’s most important cultural facilities and organizations, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Perot Museum of Art and Nature, AT&T Performing Arts Centre, Winspear Opera House, Dallas Opera, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas Symphony, Dee and Charles Wyly Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and Klyde Warren Park, among other attractions. So, not only is this cultural district a very interesting case study in municipal cultural planning, but our visits to these facilities and organizations as part of the MMIAM program also add so much to the academic and cultural experience.

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The Dallas Arts District. (Image via dallasartsdistrict.org)

Our partnerships with SDA Bocconi and Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá were created, because they are regarded as two of the top business schools in Europe and South America respectively, but also because we already had established relationships with Alex Turrini at Bocconi and Jaime Gutiérrez at Los Andes. The culture and history in both of these cities are unique and fascinating and add so much to the MMIAM program. The faculty members at all four schools are passionate about the arts; many of them have been arts managers themselves, or have served on arts boards for many years.

What is the focus of study at HEC Montréal, where you are based?

We teach a Master’s in Arts Management at HEC in French, so when we were developing the curriculum for the MMIAM program, I wanted to ensure that our students got the full benefit of being taught by experts in the field of arts management. Our focus in Montréal is more on marketing, but there are also other topics which I thought were important, like the Leadership Management course, and a course in Information Technology.  Our strength at HEC is marketing and market research, however, so this is the primary focus for the MMIAM program.

The students also visit Bogotá, Colombia for a 10-day Campus Abroad program. What do they experience there?

We visit the beautiful Universidad de Los Andes campus and about twenty cultural and private sector organizations which are involved in innovative cultural programs. We also travel for two days outside of Bogotá to visit Villa de Leyva, where there are many artisans and cultural activities.

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The MMIAM’s second cohort in Colombia

The Bogotá campus is unique in that students learn about how a developing country can use cultural activity for social innovation to benefit the broader community. Besides the high art concert halls and theatres, there are foundations and businesses which work with the underserved communities of Bogotá to engage them in the arts and cultural projects and give them opportunities which will hopefully benefit them long-term. There is a real push towards the democratization of culture in Colombia, which has six class levels [according to Colombia’s system of legally defined socioeconomic levels], the bottom two being very poor and the top two being very wealthy.

For the students, it is eye-opening, as it was for me the first time I visited. We visit the national library, which has a system in place which allows everyone to access literature across the country.  The philosophy in Bogotá is that the poor and underprivileged deserve the best.  The national concert hall offers free tickets for 20% of the hall, and brings families in on buses from the poorer parts of the city to see world-class orchestral, dance, theatre performances for free. Colombia is the most stable country in South America right now and they have really done a lot in the last twenty years to improve the quality of life in the country. The cultural policy and private sector investment, including foreign investment, has had a lot to do with this.

The MMIAM program was launched in the 2013-14 academic year and is now in its fifth cohort.  How many students have completed the program to date and where are MMIAM graduates from?

To date, 54 students from 18 countries have graduated from the program.  They have mostly been from the United States and Canada, but we have also had candidates from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Peru, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Czech Republic, India, Iran, Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia.

Who is your ideal applicant for the program or are you looking for a broad range of backgrounds?

We are looking for broad diversity in terms of country of origin, arts sector, and level of experience, and of course we want people who are passionate about the arts. We are not going for quantity, we are really going for quality. The ideal candidate is around 25-30 years of age, and with at least five years of experience, but we have had more experienced arts managers in their late 30s and 40s in the program, as well as a few very bright candidates under 25. We really choose our candidates on a case-by-case basis.

Why do you think the specific study of international arts management is important for the profession and for the cultural sector?

More and more globalization is happening in the arts. I have been in this field for 45 years, and know that most individual artists and arts organizations want to tour – dance companies, orchestras, art or museum exhibits – and the international market is open to them as never before.  More than anything, we would like to give our alumni the edge to be able to work in the international market and to understand that working with different cultures means learning and understanding different ways of doing business.

What innovative ideas have you observed in the cultural sector in Canada which are leading the new wave in culture management?

With larger arts organizations, I am seeing that they want to really engage with their communities and go beyond their art form. The two brightest examples in Montréal are Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and its new dance therapy centre [The National Centre for Dance Therapy] and the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and its new art therapy centre. They both want to serve the community through presenting wonderful art, but also by using art to help their community. This kind of engagement also forces boards of directors to broaden the scope of their strategic planning and fundraising.

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The dance therapy program at Les Grands Ballets. (Image by Karine Kalfon via grandsballets.com)

 

Portrait of a Star: National Gallery of Victoria (Abridged)

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by Ruth Rentschler, Kerrie Bridson, and Jody Evans

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The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Photo: Trevor Mein

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia, is a “star” art museum whose mission is to illuminate life by collecting and presenting great art. “Star” museums are characterized as providing a total visitor experience as funded entities that make a difference by attracting tourists and local visitors to the city in which they are located. Unlike the great prominence of superstar museums [1] [2], which is achieved through tourism, the NGV’s prominence is among its local population: 70% of its visitors live in Victoria and 30% are from interstate or overseas (L. Sassella, personal communications, 25 March 2007), whereas for superstar museums such as the Louvre the visitor percentages are reversed.

The NGV offers a total experience to its visitors through commercial outlets such as cafés, restaurants and shops; offers exceptional architecture to its visitors; and relates its offerings to events in history, politics, film and contemporary life. The strategic orientation of the Gallery increasingly emphasizes visitor demands in organizational structure, collection hang and special exhibitions.

In 1999 the NGV welcomed a new director, Dr. Gerard Vaughan, straight from the British Museum, where he had earned a strong reputation as fundraiser extraordinaire. Under his leadership, the NGV has undergone a process of reconceptualization, culminating in its branding strategy.

Branding in a Competitive Landscape

The Gallery operates in a competitive landscape. It is required to fulfil a public mandate as well as being accountable to a range of stakeholders, such as governments, boards of trustees, curators (as “keepers” of the objects), benefactors and the public [3].

Due to these complexities, the NGV mixes a traditional functional role with a new purposive role [4]. The functional role relates to activities performed in the museum and is object-based: to collect, preserve and display objects [5]. The more recently assumed purposive role relates to the intent, vision or mission of the Gallery, where the focus is on leadership and visitor services: to serve society and its development by means of study, education and enjoyment [6].

This new role can be seen as a catalyst for organizational change, which incorporates the adoption of brand values and practices that focus on people [7].

Brand Orientation

The NGV has reached beyond the marketing concept and embraced a brand orientation.

Brand orientation places strategic importance on brand, beyond the immediate goal of satisfying customer needs and wants. It is a fusion of the historic brand concept and the business orientation literature: embedding branding within the organization to ensure its effectiveness [8].

Brands are integrated with the NGV’s other tangible and intangible resources [9], which form the base for the institution’s core processes.  Branding, therefore, becomes an integrative device within the institution that aligns its capabilities and resources in order to meet external factors and demands [10] [11] [12].

The development of a strong brand orientation requires a change in organizational culture, decision-making processes and resource allocation. Barriers may encompass both beliefs and actions that impede brand development. Such barriers include a lack of financial resources, time constraints, perceived lack of relevance and a short-term focus on sales activities.

The emergence of brand orientation as a business orientation in the Gallery may be driven in part by significant changes in the environment. The leisure sector faces strong competition from new venues, destinations and attractions. It is now accepted that museums have both traditional competitors in other cultural institutions and competitors within the larger leisure arena, including retail and experiential entertainment venues. Coupled with this is a sophisticated and demanding audience base [13] that has more information access than ever before.

Museums have a curatorial orientation, where the priority is excellence in scholarship through the collection, exhibition, preservation, research and study of objects [7] [14]. While for decades collections were a key dimension predicting museum performance, the emphasis is now shifting to visitor needs and satisfaction [15]. Museums’ second imperative is, therefore, a commercial orientation.

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Glass ceiling by Leonard French, NGV International. Photo: National Gallery of Victoria.

Findings

The Gallery’s decision-making is not dominated by branding, as the NGV is first and foremost an art institution with a clear mission and vision as an institution. [But] the NGV views brand orientation holistically and focuses on brand values and practices across the institution as a means of engaging with its external market and audience. The visitor is placed at the centre of the institution’s strategic thinking and operations, encompassing its values, behaviours and practices; the brand is used as a compass for many organizational decisions.

A dominant theme that emerged is that, over the last decade, branding activities and the brand in general have become higher on the institution’s list of priorities. Strategies were being crafted around building the institution’s name as a brand, sophisticated brand architectures were being established, resources were being allocated to both internal and external brand building, and tracking brand health was emerging as an important performance metric. This all suggests a new focus on the brand as part of a cultural revolution within the institution. It is important to note that using the brand as a compass for decision-making does not equate with the marketing function of dictating collection and exhibition decisions.

The study showed drivers (bridge, leadership, external pressure, part of the consumer’s psyche) and impediments (funding, strong curatorial orientation, deeply entrenched attitudes) to brand orientation.

Conclusions

The first conclusion that can be drawn relates to the need for museums to reconcile an internal curatorial focus with the commercial imperatives of operating in a broad leisure market. A number of authors refer to the debate on whether a museum should be focused on spiritual enrichment/education or on fun/entertainment [16]. Because of this debate, the relationship between museums and marketing can best be described as “complicated”, which may explain why museums are rarely referred to as brands.

The second conclusion extends the first. Museums operate as brands in a highly competitive leisure environment. In contrast to defining the NGV by its function, our view of the NGV builds upon purposive definitions regarding the Gallery’s intent, mission and vision [15].

The implications for museum managers are the ability to identify how brand orientation manifests itself within their institution. If museums seek to establish a strong brand orientation, they must devote resources to establishing the brand as a dominant organizational philosophy that guides all decision-making. In addition, brand-oriented museums must establish the brand as a distinctive asset that communicates relevance and accessibility and invests in value-adding initiatives that enable the institution to connect with visitors on a truly symbolic level.

The full article can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 13, Number 2 – Winter 2011.

[1] Frey, B. 1998. “Superstar Museums: An Economic Analysis.” Journal of Cultural Economics, Vol. 22, no 2/3, p. 113-125.

[2] Gombault, A. 2002. “Organizational Saga of a Superstar Museum: The Louvre.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 4, no 3, 72-84.

[3] Rentschler, R. 2002a. The Entrepreneurial Arts Leader: Cultural Policy, Change and Reinvention. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press.

[4] Weil, S.E. 1990. The Proper Business of the Museum: Ideas or Things? Rethinking the Museum and Other Meditations. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.

[5] Noble, J.V. 1970. “Museum Manifesto.” Museum News, April, p. 17–20.

[6] Besterman, T. 1998. “Saying What Museums Are For – and Why It Matters.” Museums Journal, Vol. 98, no 4, p. 37.

[7] Gilmore, A., and R. Rentschler. 2002. “Changes in Museum Management: A Custodial or Marketing Emphasis?” Journal of Management Development, Vol. 21, no 10, p. 745–760.

[8] Rubinstein, H. 1996. “ ‘Brand First’ Management.” Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 12, no 4, p. 269–280.

[9] Doyle, P. 2001. “Building Value-Based Branding Strategies.” Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 9, no 4, p. 255–268.

[10] de Chernatony, L. 1999. “Brand Management Through Narrowing the Gap Between Brand Identity and Brand Reputation.” Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 15, no 1–3, p. 157–179.

[11] Ind, N. 1998. “An Integrated Approach to Corporate Branding.” Journal of Brand Management, Vol. 5, no 5, p. 323–329.

[12] Mosmans, A., and R. Van der Vorst. 1998. “Brand Based Strategic Management.” Journal of Brand Management. Vol. 6, no 2, p. 99–110.

[13] Burton, C., and C. Scott. 2003. “Museums: Challenges for the 21st century.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol.  5, no 2, p. 56–68.

[14] Kotler, N., and P. Kotler. 2000. “Can Museums Be All Things to All People? Missions, Goals, and Marketing’s Role.” Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 18, no 3, p. 271–287.

[15] Rentschler, R., and A. Gilmore. 2002. “Museums: discovering Services Marketing.” International Journal of Arts Management, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 62–72.

[16] McLean, F. 1995. “Future directions for Marketing in Museums.” European Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 355–368.

Transitioning from centre stage to behind the scenes: An interview with Shayna Schlosberg, Managing Director of The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston, Texas

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Shayna ShlosbergShayna Schlosberg was a professional actor in the United States before deciding to pursue graduate studies in international arts management. She graduated from the MMIAM program in 2014 and is now the Managing Director of The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston, Texas. What made her decide to make this career change and how did her studies help her in her current position?

What made you decide to make the career change from artist to arts manager?

Admittedly I had very little experience in arts management before applying to the program. I had a BFA in Drama but decided not to pursue performing as a career. After taking a break from acting, I realized I wanted to work in the arts, but as an administrator rather than as an artist. I believe cross-cultural exchange is very powerful and I wanted to learn how to create more opportunities for artistic and creative exchange between different cultures.

Where are you currently working and what are your primary responsibilities?

I am the Managing Director for The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. We are a small staff, so I wear many hats, but my primary responsibilities include strategic planning, fundraising, board governance, and financial management.

Photo credit: Pin Lim.

Tamarie’s Merry Evening of Mistakes and Regrets by Tamarie Cooper and Friends. Photo: Pin Lim.

Which courses in the MMIAM program were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

Our courses in financial management, fundraising and leadership have been the most valuable to my career so far. We received very practical tools and skills in these classes which I put into practice as soon as I started working. I still use a lot of the materials shared in our fundraising course at Southern Methodist University. The courses in comparative international cultural policy and cultural economics with Kathleen Gallagher provided a strong theoretical foundation. In these courses, we learned about the history of funding for the arts in the United States and the particular economic challenges that the cultural sector faces.

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

This is difficult to decide, because each campus was memorable in its own way. I’d have to say the semester in Montreal was the most memorable, because we were there in the dead of winter. I’m from Texas, so I had never experienced that kind of winter before! Living through winter in Montreal is an educational experience unto itself. It was also my favorite city of the three.

How did your studies change your perspective of arts management practices in your home country?

I gained an appreciation for the singular approach to funding the arts in the United States. We often lament how little federal funding is given to the arts here compared to Europe, for example, which I agree is problematic. However, as a result, there is a vibrant and democratic culture of philanthopy in the U.S. that has produced a very healthy and diverse arts and cultural sector.

What are the current trends in the cultural sector in your home country and what new opportunities are emerging for arts managers as a result?

I’ve noticed that funders, particularly foundations, are now investing more in organizations that provide services to multiple not-for-profits rather than to individual not-for-profits. Funders are looking to support projects with the broadest impact. This trend offers both opportunities and threats to arts managers. For someone like me in a leadership position at a mid-sized organization,  this could allow my organization to continue growing administratively without having to assume the costs of hiring new full-time staff members. However, this trend reduces mid-level management opportunities in the sector and is also taking away from very crucial general operating support grants to individual organizations.

What is one of the greatest challenges facing arts managers in your home country today?

Oh boy! Where to begin! I would say a stagnant economy is our greatest challenge today. Wages are not keeping up with the cost of living in the U.S. and this greatly impacts both artists and patrons.

An international approach to training the next generation of arts managers – In conversation with Alex Turrini, SDA Bocconi

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Alex TurriniAlex Turrini is a member of the MMIAM Program Committee, in addition to being former Director of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) at SDA Bocconi in Milan. Alex has been instrumental in developing the academic program for the MMIAM program in Milan.  We asked him to talk a bit about the focus of study at SDA Bocconi, the final phase of the MMIAM year.

SDA Bocconi in Milan is the third and final phase of the MMIAM program, from the end of April until the end of July.  What is the focus of study in Milan?

When in Milan, MMIAM students explore the arts world in Europe from an artistic and managerial/policy perspective. They are engaged in field projects, off-campus visits and guest lectures with practitioners within the three workshops SDA Bocconi develops for MMIAM: the performing arts workshop, the heritage management workshop and the consulting management workshop. The latter brings students to work for an Italian institution which engages them as consultants. Last year, we worked in Chiusi (close to Siena, Tuscany), investigating the rebranding of this little city that is one of the most important Etruscan cities in Italy. This year we will partner with the City of Cremona, the birthplace of Stradivari.

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Teamwork project for the city of Chiusi. Photo credit: Alex Turrini.

Why do you think the specific study of international arts management is important for the profession and for the cultural sector?

The globalization of the cultural sector is happening at a very fast pace. Even careers in the arts are more and more international. Let’s take Italy as an example. Ten years ago, no one could have ever imagined that the director of the Uffizi Gallery would be German! In this context, an arts manager needs to understand quickly the different cultural mindset, institutional arrangements, backgrounds. Being an international arts manager is a necessity nowadays.

What innovative ideas have you observed in the cultural sector in Italy which are leading the new wave in cultural management?

I see cultural innovation and entrepreneurship emerging as a new wave in the Italian cultural arena. Thanks to new technologies and innovative ideas, startups are flourishing in the field. It’s normal. If the cultural sector or the arts do not welcome and foster innovation, what is their true value?

The MMIAM program is unique in that it is the only international arts management program which is taught on three campuses of internationallyrecognized universities.  Why do you think this model is so important for the students?

I think that field experiences in different settings accelerate the capacity of learning. Many top universities explore double and triple degrees for this reason. In the arts, MMIAM stands alone as the only program giving students this opportunity in outstanding universities in the field of arts management and entrepreneurship.

MMIAM students from the 4th cohort visiting Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan

MMIAM students from the 4th cohort visiting Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan. Photo credit: Alex Turrini.

At Bocconi, the MMIAM students are in classes together with students from the MAMA program.  How does this model benefit the students in both programs?

The Masters in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) is a resident Masters program at Bocconi designed to strengthen management competencies for students passionate about the arts. Thanks to this ‘injection’, the MMIAM students have the opportunity to grow their professional networks. We believe that nurturing an exclusive international network of arts professionals and managers will benefit the arts organizations who choose this talent for their management teams. They may be assured of the management focus and skills of MAMA-MMIAM graduates. It will also help the MAMA-MMIAM alumni to share information and professional advice from their peers. I believe that often managers find solutions to their workplace problems outside their organizations and the MAMA-MMIAM network might be the place to find those solutions.

A visit of the France pavillion at the Milan World Expo 2015

A visit of the France pavillion at the Milan World Expo 2015. Photo credit: Laura Adlers.