Cultural Democracy at the Heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In Conversation with Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society

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Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy.

9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW

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FREE USE IMAGE Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy. 9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW © Jane Barlow 2016 {all rights reserved} janebarlowphotography@gmail.com m: 07870 152324

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. 9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW © Jane Barlow 2016 {all rights reserved}

Shona McCarthy has been Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society, the umbrella organization of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, since 2016 and is a member of the International Advisory Committee for the MMIAM program. A passionate leader of the largest arts festival in the world, McCarthy recently discussed the challenges of running a festival of this size with such a unique business model and shared why the study of international arts management is so important in developing a highly adaptable work force.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world.  What makes this festival so unique?

The Fringe, how it began and what it represents, speaks to cultural democracy. It is open access, which means we don’t select or curate the work, and anyone with a voice or a story to tell can participate in the Fringe. This extraordinary innovation started 71 years ago with just 8 companies, 6 from Scotland and 2 from England. They had not been selected for the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival program, but decided to turn up and perform anyway, so the starting point of the Fringe was an act of defiance.

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“Counting Sheep” at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Photo: David Monteith-Hodge)

Over the last 71 years, the Fringe has maintained its founding principle of open access, establishing itself as the greatest platform for creative freedom of expression in the world. This was YouTube before social media existed.

This year there will be over 3,500 shows, with over 30,000 performers, in over 300 venues, representing 55 countries in the Fringe. But the Fringe isn’t about numbers or size, it’s about ideas, experiences, and creativity. Since it began in Edinburgh in 1947, it has gone from strength to strength, inspiring a global network of more than 200 Fringes around the world.

It is also a place where the audiences themselves become the curators, creating their own program from the thousands of shows on offer. So there is a cultural democracy that underpins what we do.

The Fringe is also unlike any other, in that it is largely self-financed by those who take the risk to make and show work here. It is made up of hundreds of parts, all of which are important. It is a wonderful balance of ticketed venues, street performances, free shows, pay what you want shows, new discoveries and world class artists. It is the sum of these parts that makes it distinctive, inclusive and extraordinary.

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The 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Highstreet. (Photo: James Ratchford)

The economic and artistic scope of this festival is remarkable.  What are some of the challenges you face in managing such a major festival?

The Fringe Society does not manage the Fringe, we are the glue that holds it all together and provides the centralised services of participant support, audience navigation, and overall marketing and promotion that enables the Fringe to be coherent and a quality experience for participants and audiences alike.

Challenges include managing the expectations of everyone involved and continually communicating the opportunities and risks of bringing work to the Fringe, so that participants approach the festival in an informed and prepared way; balancing the interests of local artists and stakeholders with the global platform that the Fringe has become; ensuring that the Fringe continues to provide opportunities for new connections to be made between creatives from across the world, so that work presented here can tour nationally and internationally; and working to keep the Fringe affordable for the artists that are essential to its existence.

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

I think it is important because there are increasing opportunities for excellence and professionalism in arts management around the world. Arts management is no longer a local endeavour, but an international landscape where knowledgeable, experienced, globally mobile professionals can readily adjust their skills and experience to different countries and contexts. It is essential that this is rooted in an understanding of different models, different cultural contexts, and ideally practical experience. It is enriching for the cultural sector to have a global workforce which can transcend geographies and bring new insights, models and experiences across the global arts network.

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

I look for passion and belief in the arts as a force for good in the world; enabling leadership that can nurture and develop teams; solutions-focused innovators who bring new thinking through listening, reflection and analysis; and strategic thinkers who can turn strategy into plans that are successfuly delivered.

Flexibility, enthusiasm, honesty and openness are important qualities, as are good communication and relationship-building skills, and professionalism coupled with warmth and humanity.

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

I am enjoying seeing more public realm work and work that meets the audience where they are, more engagement of audience members as creative participants rather than passive consumers, and a shift in the notion of one single curatorial voice towards a more devolved or democratised approach to curation to cater for wider tastes and interests.

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“Trainspotting” at the 2016 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Photo: David Monteith-Hodge)

What are some of your future plans for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Following our 70th anniversary celebrations in 2017, we felt it was important to take stock, gather feedback, challenge assumptions, and lay the groundwork for our 75th anniversary in 2022. The culmination of all this work is the Fringe Blueprint, an action plan which we believe represents an ambitious but achievable vision of what the Fringe could look like in the next five years.

The Blueprint identifies new approaches to ensure anyone can participate in the Fringe, regardless of their background. From driving down the cost of attendance to engaging young people in the arts, enhancing our street performance space on the Royal Mile to reaching out to under-represented groups in Edinburgh and further afield, we want the Fringe to be the greatest festival on earth at which to perform and produce, run a venue, develop a career, see shows and discover talent.

New Variations of Dual Leadership: Insights From Finnish Theatre (Abridged)

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by Mari Järvinen, Heli Ansio, and Pia Houni

The Study

In this article we describe dual leadership as it exists in Finnish professional theatre in the years since 2000. In 2012 there were 46 drama theatres and 10 dance companies subject to Finland’s Theatres and Orchestras Act, plus the National Opera and the National Theatre. State funding of regularly operating professional theatres and orchestras is based on the Act, which determines public subsidies for performing arts organizations. In addition, theatres receive municipal funding. State-subsidized professional theatre ranges from large and medium-sized municipal theatres to small but well-established independent theatre companies. In addition to the regularly operating professional theatres, there are numerous other independent theatrical groups that remain outside the legislation. Most directors of institutional theatres have contracts of from two to five years, while some contracts are permanent. Most of the artistic staff of professional theatres have permanent contracts, but the situation is rapidly changing and the proportion of freelance artistic staff is growing (Teatteritilastot/Finnish Theatre Statistics, 2012).

Institutional theatre in Finland, as in most countries, has been dominated by the idea of a single artistic leader. However, this notion has been under question ever since the first Finnish professional theatre was established in 1972, and especially since the independent theatre movement took hold in Finland in the 1970s. Independent theatrical groups questioned the conventional institutions and their management practices. Another new wave of independent theatres appeared in the 1990s, many of them favouring democratic decision-making, a low level of administration and, often, collaborative leadership models (Wilmer and Koski, 2006). In recent years a new type of dual leadership has emerged, especially in medium-sized and small theatres and independent theatrical groups. However, there has been neither systematic research nor popular writing on collaborative leadership in Finnish theatres.

The new variations of dual leadership appeared in Finnish theatre concurrent with increasing professionalization of theatrical management and increasing privatization of municipal theatres. The emergence of these new types of dual leadership may be related to trends and developments in artistic practice. Most of the leaders we interviewed were in their thirties or forties. Some of them can be viewed as members of the new independent theatre generation of the 1990s who received their artistic education in the first decade of the new millennium. These generations are accustomed to process-centred methods and the ideals associated with artistic collaboration. Traditionally, artistic directors and managing directors/CEOs have been recruited separately. In the case of newer leader duos, however, very often the duo is formed before they apply for the position, as a pair, or the duo has founded a theatre together.

Data Collection

Six leader duos were interviewed (which we refer to by number; see Table 1), representing theatres of various sizes and types. All of the duos had been formed by the choice of both individuals and most had gained their position as leader either by founding their own theatre or by applying to a theatre as a duo. Ten interviewees were employees of theatres with a dual leadership model in place. They represented different staff groups: actors, other artistic staff (e.g. costumiers), technical staff and administrative personnel. All had either permanent contracts or temporary contracts for more than one production; none had a production contract.

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Dual Leadership in This Study

Figure 1 illustrates the general structure of traditional models of theatre management in Finland and the emergent structures of dual leadership. Table 1 describes the composition, history and division of tasks of each leader duo as well as our assessment of which type of dual leadership each constellation most closely resembles in the categorization of de Voogt and Hommes (2007) and Döös et al. (2008). We provide a descriptive statement to shed further light on each setting. These are not direct quotes but descriptions by the authors.

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Next, three case narratives are presented to illustrate how new dual leadership is manifested in our data.

CEO and Artistic Director: Blurring of the Lines (Duo 3)

The formal setting at duo 3’s theatre reflects the traditional division between artistic and managerial responsibilities. In practice, however, the two leaders work differently. They strive to blur the division of tasks and share responsibilities as much as possible. They also share an office and say they want to run the organization together, so they share leadership in practice. The organization previously had one theatre director, so defining roles and responsibilities has taken some effort.

Two Artistic Directors leading in Shifts (Duo 6)

This leader duo, a playwright and an actor, were encouraged to apply together for the leadership position in this medium-sized city theatre. They take turns being the formal leader. The leader who is not in charge at the time can concentrate on artistic work. They speak of “24/7 peer support.” These leaders use their complementary skill sets and personalities in their work. Shifting formal responsibilities from one to the other is challenging, as it requires extensive communication and can cause confusion among stakeholders such as board members.

Two Artistic Directors Leading Together (Duo 1)

These two actors founded an independent theatrical company after working together on various projects. Their ways of cooperation and task division have grown organically. This company is now the largest independent theatre in the area and the duo’s position and work have changed. A very informal leadership has shifted towards the setting of stricter boundaries and a clearer division of duties in order to cope with the challenges of a growing organization. Both leaders are responsible for artistic decision-making, they are in charge of one stage each, and one is responsible for finance and the other for technology, public relations and marketing. Their leadership has become more strategic and less reactive.

Findings: “It is less windy at the top when you are together”

Previous research indicates that dual leaders see this leadership structure as a way of coping with the heavy workload of a leader (Wilhelmson et al., 2006). The leaders in our study cited the benefits of having a colleague with whom to reflect on ideas and discuss difficult situations. The leader duos had two skill sets and two networks available, allowing for greater opportunities and possibilities, as also described by Antrobus (2011). A possible drawback was the time needed to communicate effectively about issues, but this was balanced by the quality of the decisions made, the support received and the insights derived from different perspectives (Wilhelmson et al., 2006). Our interviewees described dual leadership as a way to create more time for concentrating on tasks and a way to “be in two places at one time,” again paralleling the view of Antrobus (2011). Several leaders emphasized the advantage of having a constant critic available, which improved their leadership and the quality of the art they produced. Mutual support and dialogue were cited as among the greatest advantages of the dual leadership structure. As suggested by the literature, the new dual leadership results in leadership that is more than the sum of its parts (Antrobus, 2011).

Denis, Langley and Sergi (2012) call for more attention to the issue of organizing dual leadership, within the duo itself as well as in relation to the organization. The issue of boundaries, meaning the inclusion or exclusion of others in the leadership group, is an interesting one in the theatrical context. According to our sample, boundaries can be both beneficial and problematic.

Discussion

Although dual leadership has been used as a means to overcome problem situations in arts organizations (de Voogt, 2005), it appears that some problems can be perpetuated by choosing a leadership model that is new and unfamiliar to the organization. At the very least, a new leadership structure will raise questions and require careful preparation.

As suggested in the literature (e.g., Gronn and Hamilton, 2004; Miles and Watkins, 2007), trust is an essential component of successful dual leadership. The duo is an intimate constellation where “extreme honesty” must prevail, as stated by one of the leaders (duo 6) in our study. Another significant aspect of trust is that between the duo and the organization.

In exploring the dual leadership structure of the theatres in our study, we saw that the why is clearly interrelated with the how in the stories about the formation of the leader duos, as each duo has created a form of dual leadership that fitted with their personalities, goals and views on leadership. In the future, it would be beneficial for the understanding of the dynamics of new forms of dual leadership to explore the phenomenon through a wider range of methods and, for example, the careers of young theatre professionals who aspire to lead a theatre. There is anecdotal evidence of potential leaders saying they would not run a theatre alone due to the large number of diverse tasks and responsibilities involved. As the well-being of managers and leaders is often discussed in terms of long hours, fatigue or even burn-out, we see dual leadership as a model that could bring relief to such settings.

In future research it would also be important to account for similar constructs outside the arts sector, such as religious parishes, the medical field and expert organizations where leadership roles are complex and multi-faceted, and explore these settings in a similar manner. For example, private medical practice has often been based on a dual model of medical and economic leadership but as more doctors are earning MBA degrees and becoming involved in the business aspects of the practice, the leadership constellations are changing. The opportunities for constant dialogue, feedback and reflection that a more collaborative dual leadership provides could be very valuable in many organizations.

References

Antrobus, C., 2011. Two Heads Are Better Than One: What Art Galleries and museums Can Learn From the Joint Leadership Model in Theatre. Research paper. London: Clore Leadership Programme. Accessed 26 March 2015 at http://www.claireantrobus.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/twoheads_7mar.pdf.

Denis, J.-L., A. Langley and V. Sergi. 2012. “Leadership in the Plural.” Academy of Management Annals, Vol. 6, no 1, p. 211-283.

de Voogt, A., 2005. “Dual Leadership as a Problem Solving Tool in Arts Organizations.” Management and Organizations, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 17-22.

de Voogt, A. And K. Hommes. 2007. “The Signature of Leadership: Artistic Freedom in Shared Leadership Practice.” John Ben Sheppard Journal of Practical Leadership, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 1-5.

Döös, M., M. Hanson, T. Backström and L. Wilhelmson. 2008. Leadership Co-operation: The Existence of Sharing Managers in Swedish Work Life. Paper presented at University Forum for Human Resource Development. Accessed 1 July 2014 at http://www.ufhrd.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/15-1_doos_hanson_backstrom_wilhelmson.PDF.

Gronn, P., and A. Hamilton. 2004. “ ‘A Bit More Life in the Leadership’: Co-principalship as Distributed Leadership Practice.” Leadership and Policy in Schools, Vol. 3, no 1, p. 3-35.

Miles, S.A., and M.D. Watkins. 2007. “The Leadership Team: Complementary Strengths or Conflicting Agendas?” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85, no 4, p. 90-97.

Teatteritilastot/Finnish Theatre Statistics, 2012. Helsinki: Teatterin tiedotuskeskus. http://www.tingo.fi/dokumentit/finnish_theatre_statistics_2012_1209131547.pdf.

Wilhelmson, L., M. Döös, T. Backström, K. Bellaagh and M. Hanson. 2006. En studie av parledarskap – sammanfattning. Om faser, arbetssätt och uppfattningar från 14 delade chefer, deras medarbetare och överordnade i Stockholms stad. Stockholm: Arbetslivsinstitutet.

Wilmer, S.E., and P. Koski. 2006. The Dynamic World of Finnish Theatre: An Introduction to Its History, Structures and Aesthetics. Helsinki: Like.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 17, Number 13 Spring 2015

Combining technology and the arts: In conversation with Robert O’Brien, General Manager of Hammerstep’s Indigo Grey project

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robert-obrien-head-shotRobert O’Brien graduated from the third cohort of the MMIAM program in 2016. He has been involved in arts management since high school and already had valuable professional experience before applying for the MMIAM program, serving on arts boards, performing as an actor and singer, and working as a general manager of several arts organizations. In a recent interview with the Connecticut native, we discussed his experience in the MMIAM program and where his career in arts management has taken him since.

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

My goal was to gain a more theoretical business background with a focus on challenges in the arts industry. Two aspects of the program which stuck out for me were the international scope (to learn how arts are produced in other jurisdictions) and the one-year duration. I wanted to get back to work and gain practical experience as quickly as possible without taking the summer off.

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

I am currently working as the General Manager with a start-up organization called Hammerstep, based in New York. We have a project called Indigo Grey, which combines technology, dance, and non-traditional staging to create an immersive and interactive experience for audiences. Because it is a start-up, we have a small team of dedicated staff who each do a large number and broader range of tasks.

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

One course that stands out for me as having been immediately useful was process and information management. We applied topics covered in that course in our consulting class at Bocconi University in Milan. More broadly, I find process management to be extremely important to the efficiency of any organization and one which arts managers need to know in order to reform ailing organizations.

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

It reinforced my ability to adapt to any situation and be flexible as new circumstances arise. It allowed me to see many places I have never been before and to enjoy the unique cultural assets different cities and countries have to offer. It is assumed, often incorrectly, that people outside your immediate cultural area consume culture the same way you do. I feel like I have an improved understanding of cultural consumption outside my area. It also gave me a very geographically dispersed network, which is very effective in testing ideas in different dynamics.

Which MMIAM campus was the most memorable for you and why?

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Robert O’Brien in Rome, Italy

This is a really difficult question because the four campuses are completely different and that is not an exaggeration. I attended McGill in Montreal for my undergrad. One of the best advantages of the school is its location in one of the most unique cities in North American, in a country that, while related, is different from my own [being from the United States]. But during my MMIAM studies, I would have to say Milan was my favorite campus. The lynchpin for this choice is not so much Bocconi University, but rather that, like McGill and Montreal, the campus for Bocconi in my eyes [represented] the entire country of Italy and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over the country and really take in what a diverse place that area of the world is, especially historically.

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

I would not say it changed my perspective, but rather highlighted the difference. The United States takes a devolved view of arts funding with government support being on the low end. Amongst many of my colleagues in arts management in the United States, lack of government support looks like a clear disadvantage, and it certainly has its disadvantages. However, a devolved approach actually has many less obvious advantages. I would say I appreciate more the possibilities that come with having to seek funding outside of the government, including both earned and contributed income as well as equity investments.

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 would say the biggest trend is the integration of technology into the product offerings of arts organizations. Words like “innovation” and “technology” are very sexy in organizations and arts councils today. However, I feel many misunderstand their implications. I personally have seen the integration of arts and technology be very effective and also very ineffective in arts organizations. There is still a lot of experimentation in the arts industry (especially in not-for-profit arts organizations whose funding is lower). When organizations discover what works, others will copy them, and the integration of arts and technology will become more the norm, but I feel we are not at that point yet.

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An Indigo Grey performance. (Courtesy of Hammerstep.)

On the other hand, many groups in the private sector have been integrating technology into arts and cultural ventures for a long time and very successfully. One major difference between the two is the availability of funding for these ventures. Technology can be expensive. An organization like Disney has vast sums of money to invest in technology. In many ways their product also succeeds and fails on its ability to innovate with technology. It can’t be ignored because of the companies with whom they are competing (for Universal, think of using magic wands in the Harry Potter world [The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida]). A clever arts manager today could bridge the gap between the private and not for profit sector, tech companies and arts organizations to redefine how organizations offer their products.

Breaking Down the Fourth Wall in Arts Management: The Implications of Engaging Users in Decision-Making (Abridged)

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by Leila Jancovich

 

UNESCO defines three types of participation in culture: reception, through attendance at performances and exhibitions; production, through amateur engagement in creative practice; and interaction, through some form of dialogue, often digital, between the arts organization and the participant (Morrone, 2006). Arts management strategies can address all these areas. But what much of the literature shares is an assumption that the deficit lies with the non-participant, in terms of either understanding or opportunities to engage. Strategies to increase participation therefore commonly focus on education programs or concessionary pricing.

However, some argue that the deficit may be in the management of the organization, or the cultural offer, as much as with the recipient (Belfiore et al., 2011). It is argued that the existence of “cultural elites” (Griffiths, Miles and Savage, 2008, p. 198), which have created a level of self-interest and an “interminable circuit of inter-legitimation” within the arts sector (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 53), may limit the range of voices being heard in decision-making. Attempts to engage those beyond the professional cultural elite are often met with accusations of crass populism (Tusa, 2000), which may be the greatest barrier to increasing participation.

Methodology

This article examines the levers and barriers with respect to introducing participatory decision-making in arts management through a critical analysis of the language used by a range of agents involved in both policy and management. It explores attitudes to the participation agenda in general and participatory decision-making in particular, alongside a managerial analysis of a case study of participatory decision-making in practice.

The data collected and analyzed for the research include the results of a review of grey literature produced by national arts policy-makers, a survey of a selection of local authorities and a case study. Eighty applications from arts organizations that applied for Arts Council England funding in 2010 were also examined, to assess the variety of interpretations of the participation agenda by different applicants.

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A survey questionnaire was sent to arts officers at a selection of 20 local authorities that had identified themselves as having an interest in participation by adopting the national cultural indicator (DCMS, 2008). Also, in-depth one-to-one interviews were conducted with a range of arts professionals. The sample comprised six policy-makers from central and local government.

All interviewees were asked to define what they understood by “participation” and comment on how important they thought it was in the arts, and why. Finally, they were asked for their personal views on the pros and cons of participatory decision-making.

Also, in-depth one-to-one interviews were conducted with a range of arts professionals. The sample comprised six policymakers from central and local government, including one former minster for culture; nine Arts Council England staff members; and nine arts managers or consultants.

The case of Contact, located in Manchester, UK was cited repeatedly in the in-depth interviews as the most successful example of participatory decision-making in the arts. It was therefore selected as a case study to examine the nature of the perceived “success” and to consider broader implications for arts managers.

Participatory Decision-Making in Practice: A Case Study of Contact in Manchester

Contact Theatre started life in the 1970s out of the University of Manchester. For many years it existed as a “repertory theatre in bright colours” (Arts Council England officer), attracting school parties to productions using set texts from the school curriculum. After a major refurbishment a new artistic director, John McGrath, took over in 1999. McGrath stayed with the organization for 10 years. His aim, influenced by his background in both experimental theatre and youth work in Brazil, New York, Liverpool and East London, was to make the venue more contemporary in style, more diverse in outlook and more inclusive in atmosphere.

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Contact Theatre in Manchester, UK. (Photo by Joel Chester Fildes.)

In all the interviews conducted, both within the organization and across the city, there was an overwhelming sense that under McGrath’s tenure the organization had gone through a transformation, to what is now described as a cross-art-form laboratory. According to its business plan (Contact, 2011), it has significantly higher engagement by ethnic minorities and a wider socio-economic mix than venues elsewhere in the city: 36% of its theatre audiences, 57% of its workshop participants and 29% of its board are from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. In addition, 65% of its audiences and 93% of its workshop participants are aged 13 to 30. This is in stark contrast to average theatre audiences in England, which have been found to be predominantly white and middle-aged, with the under-30s being the least likely to attend (Chan et al., 2008).

Contact was said to have “a real street presence” (local artist), outside the theatre as well as within. All the staff, including the artistic director, were said to be accessible and to reflect a deep knowledge and understanding of a wide range of cultural practices, not just theatre. The ethos within the building was described as creating “a place to get involved” (participant) or a “hub, where a lot of young people feel comfortable going into and just hanging out” (participant). As a result, there is an informal dialogue on a regular basis between staff and users.

It was said that, under McGrath, this led “organically” to involving people in decisionmaking, asking for volunteers from among those using the building to sit on decision-making panels or to attend and review theatrical shows that might be brought to the venue. There were no criteria for selection other than ensuring that the same faces did not sit on panels each time. Also, whenever possible the theatre paid the young people taking part, the aim being to ensure that a large number of people were engaged in such processes and that their voices informed artistic choices. As a result, many young people at Contact were said to have also developed their skills and some of those interviewed had gained their first employment through the theatre.

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Contact staff and young people in consultation around Contact’s £6.65million capital redevelopment project. (Photo courtesy of Contact Theatre.)

Findings

Many of the arts managers interviewed believed that the arts are not slow adopters of participatory decision-making and that this practice is common in the arts. One person believed that all arts organizations are involving the public in decision-making more now than ever. However, when asked to name examples one interviewee acknowledged that “we use the same five examples” (Arts Council England officer) whenever discussing participatory decision-making. Often, Contact was the only name people could think of where the practice is embedded in the management of the organization. Other examples tended to be galleries and theatres involving the public in short-term co-curation projects rather than in budgeting or management.

Some of the interviewees argued that there is no evidence the public want to be involved in how arts organizations are managed. However, public value research in the United Kingdom found that public consultation called for not only greater transparency in how decisions in the arts were made, but also greater involvement in decision-making processes (Opinion Leader, 2007).

Management Implications

The above findings suggest that both artistic practice and profile of participants may be transformed through participatory decision-making processes, which are essential if the arts are to be “more relevant to the culture of the country – the actual culture of the country, not what [arts managers] think is the culture of the country” (arts policy commentator). But this is not an easy process: the decision-making process is crucial to the outcomes.

There was a widely held view that participatory decision-making is most effective when “people genuinely want to change the power relationships in the organization [and] expect the outcomes to be different [from what they are]” (government adviser). When the process is short term, as when participants are invited to co-curate an exhibition or season of work, there is evidence that they are effective in building public value but not in influencing organizational change. Therefore, such processes may be most transformative when embedded across the organization and spread over the long term.

However, it was apparent that those with little or no experience with such practices are often resistant to or fearful of the impact of widening the range of voices through which decisions are made. In contrast, there was acceptance of such practices among those who had experience working with the public. This makes a powerful case for developing small, project-based experiments within arts organizations in order to build the capacity and confidence of arts managers in delivering such programs.

Over the longer term, however, the challenge is for arts managers to embrace the possibilities of participatory decision-making and, rather than replicating existing models, try to find their own way to implementing it within their organizations and break down the fourth wall, which often acts as a barrier between the organization and its public, whoever they might be.

References

Belfiore, E., C. Bunting, L. Gibson, A. Gilmore, F. James, A. Miles, J. Milling, S. Stannage and K. Schaefer. 2011. AHRC Communities, Culture and Creative Economies Development Project “Understanding Everyday Participation – Articulating Cultural Values” Literature Review. Manchester: Center for Economic and Sociocultural Change.

Bourdieu, P. 1984. Distinction. New York: Routledge.

Chan, T.W., J. Goldthorpe, E. Keaney and A. Oskala. 2008. Attendance and Participation in Theatre, Street Arts and Circus in England: Findings From the Taking Part Survey. London: Arts Council England.

Contact. 2011. Our Journey. Manchester: Author.

Department for Culture, Media and Sport. 2008. Technical_Note_NI11. [Online.] London: Author. Accessed 1 June 2011 at www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/Technical_Note_NI11_FINAL.pdf.

Griffiths, D., A. Miles and M. Savage. 2008. “The End of the Cultural Elite?” Sociological Review, Vol. 56, p. 187-209.

Morrone, A. 2006. Guidelines for Measuring Cultural Participation. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Opinion Leader. 2007. Arts Council England, Public Value Deliberative Research. London: Author.

Tusa, J. 2000. Art Matters. London: Methuen.

See the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 18, Number 1, Fall 2015

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-headshot

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.