About us

Laura Adlers, M.M., Editor

Laura Adlers completed her Master of Management in International Arts Management (M.M.) in 2015, through studies at HEC Montréal, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Universidad de los Andes in Bogotà, and SDA Bocconi in Milan. She is the Editor of the MMIAM blog, a new initiative designed to share stories about the MMIAM program and the field of international arts.

Laura has over 20 years of experience in the private, not-for-profit and public sectors in Canada, the United States and internationally, with specialization working in the cultural sector. Recognized for her leadership skills, she has worked primarily with performing artists and arts organizations, both in Canada and abroad, and is known in particular for her work with Canadian and international choirs. Her wide range of experience has focused on small to mid-sized not-for-profit arts organizations, and has included program development, marketing and public relations, project management, fundraising, and stakeholder and community engagement.

More recently, she has been focused on international projects and is actively researching and advocating for issues concerning the training and retention of culture managers both in Canada and abroad. In addition, she is developing seminars and learning tools for artists and arts organizations to teach them about all aspects of culture management and help them reach their full professional and organizational potential.

When she is not managing the business of the arts, Laura works as a writer, editor, Latvian – English translator and is a member of the Latvian Literature Association in Riga. For more information, visit www.lauraadlers.com

Program Committee

colbertfrancois-sm-e1338320398844François Colbert is Professor of Marketing and holder of the Carmelle and Rémi Marcoux Chair in Arts Management at HEC Montréal. In addition to his duties as supervisor of the master’s program in International Arts Management (MMIAM), he is founding Editor and Executive Director of the International Journal of Arts Management (IJAM), published by the Chair in Arts Management.
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james-hart-sq-150x150James Hart is an award-winning director of arts entrepreneurship and professor of practice at Meadows School of the Arts, where he serves as interim chair for the Division of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship. Hart currently administers two AMAE Masters programs (M.A./M.B.A. and M.M. in International Arts Management), two undergraduate minors (Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship), and the Meadows Artist Bridge.
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aturrini-hd-sq-150x150Alex Turrini is SDA Professor of Public and Nonprofit Management. Since January 2017, he is Public Management and Policy Faculty Deputy at SDA Bocconi School of Management. He is tenured Associate Professor in the same fields at Bocconi University.
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Welcome to The MMIAM Journey : Shining a Spotlight on the Business of the Arts


by Laura Adlers, M.M., Editor.

Laura Adlers Throughout my career as an arts manager I have been asked: “But, what exactly is an arts manager? What do you do for a living?” Arts managers are producers of cultural events and managers of cultural products of various disciplines. They manage small to mid-sized cultural not-for-profit organizations, and they are business leaders of larger creative industries.


They may specialize in one of the disciplines of not-for-profit management: marketing and publicity; fundraising and development; volunteer management; project and event management; program development; or community and stakeholder relations — or they may be generalists who are involved in all aspects of arts management. Some arts managers are artists themselves, and still others are deeply passionate about the arts, but more comfortable behind the scenes.

I fall into the latter category. Raised in a musical Latvian family, I was exposed to choral singing at a very young age. I attended a Latvian music camp in Mount Orford, Quebec at the age of 15, where I had the opportunity to meet professional musicians and hear their performances, and to participate in my first choral masterclasses.

As much as I enjoyed this incredible musical experience, I was most curious about what was happening behind the scenes, what the producer of this music camp was doing to make it all happen. Inspired by her administrative prowess, I produced my first amateur chamber music concert at a church in downtown Toronto three years later at the age of 18.

After gaining valuable business experience in the corporate sector, I began a full-time career in arts management, working primarily with choral organizations and festivals in Toronto. Many years later, I had the distinct privilege of partnering with a Latvian conductor to represent him and his choir internationally and organize special projects and tours across Europe and North America over a five-year period. Collaborating with arts organizations in other parts of the world opened my eyes to different business practices and approaches, and the world of international arts management. It was through this experience that I was inspired to broaden my career path to learn about and work with international organizations on global cultural projects.

The Master of Management in International Arts Management program was launched in 2013. At this point, I had been working as a professional arts manager for over twenty years, and the opportunity to leave my familiar surroundings, to experience a year of study, learning about different arts management practices on four very diverse international campuses, with students from around the world, was the kind of challenge I was looking for. My story is one of many which led to the MMIAM program. This blog is an extension of that journey.

Welcome to The MMIAM Journey, a blog about the Master of Management in International Arts Management program. Every month, we will share the academic and personal experiences of MMIAM alumni and interview members of our International Advisory Committee and faculty about their projects, research and perspectives. As an added bonus, we will publish a summary of a research article or company profile from HEC’s International Journal of Arts Management. We hope you enjoy learning more about our unique program and reading about the challenges and trends we are seeing in the field of arts management around the world today.

Street art tour in Bogota, Colombia, for Laura's cohort

Street art tour in Bogota, Colombia, for Laura’s cohort.

Audacious New Moves Open Les Grands Ballets’ Season

The Nutcracker.

Alain Dancyger (photo: Ari Tapiero)Alain Dancyger is the Executive Director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and a member of the MMIAM International Advisory Committee. In 2017, Alain, his team and his partners (Agora de la danse, Tangente and l’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal) realized the dream of creating “Espace danse”, an extraordinary international centre for dance in the heart of Montréal’s cultural district. What was the driving force behind Dancyger’s ambitious plans for Les Grands Ballets?

There is a trend in the cultural sector towards finding innovative ways to engage with the audience and break down the wall between artist and audience. Do you think this is important and what is Les Grands Ballets doing to address this?

There is a belief in the industry that if you are a cultural organization, you have to stick to cultural activities. Does this mean that everything we do has to be connected to ballet? At Les Grands Ballets, we do a lot of things which are not traditional. Several years ago, we decided to adopt a holistic approach to the dance industry and our organization. My belief is that if you are not connected to real life experiences, how can you connect with people? So a lot of our new programs are a result of this philosophy.

An activity at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' National Centre for Dance Therapy. Photo: Damian Siqueiros / Zetaproduction

An activity at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ National Centre for Dance Therapy. Photo: Damian Siqueiros / Zetaproduction

We have created over 25 new projects and over 50 international partnerships, which include the creation of the National Centre for Dance Therapy, our new “Adapted Dance” classes for people with specific health issues, such as autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome, and our new recreational dance program. We had over 600 people registered for September!

With the design of the new space, I want to ensure that the values, audacity, and innovation of the organization will be felt in most parts of the building. We are showcasing elements of dance throughout the building, and giving a sense of the history of the organization. We are creating a Hall of Fame and showcasing many of the ballet costumes, for instance, so that people will walk through and have an experience, be surprised. The space has to tell a story.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' The Nutcracker. Photo: Damian Siqueiros / Zetaproduction; Dancer: VeraLes Grands Ballets tours internationally on a regular basis, in addition to inviting international dance organizations to perform in Montréal. What specific skills are needed to manage these international projects which differ from managing organizations at a local community level?

First of all, when Les Grands Ballets tours internationally, we are ambassadors of Montréal, Québec and Canada to the rest of the world. We must be adaptable to the way that other countries do business and be well-informed about cultural sensivity and attitudes in different parts of the world. Although this can be challenging, this is also a great source of enrichment for the company. We learn a lot from other cultures and environments. This often triggers ideas for future projects and collaborations.

How would you define what an arts manager does?

An arts manager should be a visionary, almost like a conductor, who inspires and leads people, but who is also very detail-oriented. Arts managers have to operate at a grass-roots level, very involved with the people who make the organization tick, but also have to lead and have the big ideas which inspire their team and their audience. I often say that I don’t like business plans, but I do believe in having a strong mission and, once everyone is on board with a new idea, we work together to plan accordingly and realize the idea.

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

If I am looking for a marketing person, they obviously have to have experience in this field, and there may be many people who fit this criteria. Ultimately, the most important consideration is whether their values connect with our values. I am looking for a good fit for the organization. I may interview someone who is very experienced, but they clearly lack empathy for their coworkers and for the artists. This is not a good fit for our organization. What makes a big difference at Les Grands Ballets is shared human experiences. I like to build extremely diversified teams with very different experiences and backgrounds, but who share common values.

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

Everything is global now, we are an international community and we continue to build this community. This is a very natural environment for millennials, and not so natural for older generations. The MMIAM program is very important, because it opens up that world, allows students to get to know what brings us together, what the key differences are, the key factors of success for different organizations in different parts of the world. It provides graduates with the necessary tools to succeed and triggers new ideas which will eventually belong to the world. For instance, when I imagined our new Dance Therapy Centre, I never thought it would be happening only in Montréal, I always imagined we would have international partners, creating something that we would share with the world.
Dance-therapy program at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Photo: Damian Siqueiros / Zetaproduction

Subscribers’ Overall Evaluation of a Multi-experience Cultural Service, Tolerance for Disappointment, and Sustainable Loyalty (Abridged)


by Zakia Obaidalahe, Francis Salerno, François Colbert.

Both the core product and the peripheral services can trigger emotions in audience members[i]. Indeed, consumers who experience a positive emotion while attending a concert are likely to recommend the orchestra, while negative emotions tend to produce the opposite effect.

The consumer’s satisfaction can be seen in terms of a chain of events composed of the following elements: Event, Emotions, Trust, Value, Involvement, Satisfaction, Repurchase Intentions, Word-of-Mouth and Recommendation (Figure 1). A positive emotion or evaluation of the core product or the peripheral services and the social environment not only helps build the consumer’s trust, but also creates value in the eyes of the audience. Trust and a perception of value lead to involvement, which, in turn, influences satisfaction. While it is unlikely that a satisfied customer will come back to see the same work a second time, it is likely they will return to see another concert by the same orchestra (repurchase intention) and they may say good things about it (word-of-mouth) and recommend the concert or orchestra to others (recommendation). The opposite is also true: negative emotions in relation to the three dimensions of the cultural offering will diminish trust in the organization and reduce involvement, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction or disappointment.research-article-purchase-repurchase-model

The Importance of Tolerance for Disappointment

The consumption of cultural products carries an inherent risk due to the fact that each new artistic offering is different from the others. For example, a theatre is constantly in the position of offering a new product. However, a theatre subscriber can mitigate potential disappointment by offsetting an experience of a bad performance with other play during the season. Similarly, a negative emotion in relation to the core service (the show) can be offset by the positive emotions triggered by the peripheral services or social interactions experienced during the event.

For example, the works proposed to subscribers of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago are highly challenging, but subscribers say that they remain loyal to Steppenwolf because even if they don’t like a show, they know they can always count on exceptionally good acting[ii]. In fact, these subscribers identify with the theatre and are willing to tolerate a certain amount of disappointment.

Sustainable subscriber loyalty is thus reflected in two main dimensions: subscription renewal intention and recommendation intention.

Feelings of disappointment generated by bad concerts are tolerated because they are offset by the good concerts, as well as by the positive experiences with peripheral services and social interactions.

The sustainable loyalty that occurs when subscribers renew their subscription and make positive recommendations to others reflects a genuine form of loyalty. This loyalty behaviour can be explained by a combination of emotional, social, individual and situational factors that reflect the multidimensional nature of high art products mentioned earlier.

It is important for managers of organisations that offer season subscriptions to pay special attention to all peripheral services and to social interaction in order to build or maintain subscriber loyalty in spite of the inevitable disappointment subscribers may experience in relation to certain events. Services these managers should focus on include ensuring a hospitable welcome and environment, the comfort of the venue, personalized relations with customers, the creation of a friendly space for gatherings and discussion, food and beverage services, etc.

Managers should also strive to enhance the audience’s experience of the venue as a creator of social ties. Audience members are generally very appreciative of the opportunity to meet with the artists, discuss performances with other audience members and debate with the artistic team, and they derive special satisfaction when they receive a warm welcome from the theatre’s staff. The role of social identification should also be acknowledged by managers through a diversification of audiences in order to counter the traditional image of orchestra concerts as elitist.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra doing a concert of the soundtrack to the movie Psycho. Photo: Daniel Aulsebrook

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra doing a concert of the soundtrack to the movie Psycho. Photo: Daniel Aulsebrook

Path to fidelity

As shown in Figure 1, customer service is an important component of the aesthetic experience in the arts sector. It is part of a chain of elements that can lead to either a rejection of the work or venue, on the one hand, or loyalty and recommendations to others, on the other hand.

Emotions are generated by three components of the experience: the concert itself, the quality of the peripheral services, and social interaction and the formation of small worlds[iii]. These three components are themselves influenced by the audience’s ability to pass through the appropriation cycle and to integrate the new elements of the performance in their nest[iv]. Similarly, the pro-social values demonstrated by the concert venue tend to have a positive influence on the music lover’s appreciation of the company, particularly in the case of women[v].

All these elements trigger emotions in audience members that lead them to attach value to their experience and, in turn, this value influences their involvement in the venue and builds their trust in the organization.

If this chain is negative, consumers who have a tolerance for disappointment may nonetheless feel satisfied and go back a second time and/or recommend the company to others. On the other hand, if they have no tolerance for disappointment, there is a risk that they could reject the organization.

As we can see, the role of the manager of arts organisations, even if he or she has nothing to do with the work of art itself (this falls under the responsibility of the artistic director), can positively influence the experience of live performance by creating an environment that enhances the experience.

The complete article is published in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 20, Number 1, Fall 2017.

[i] Palmer, A., & Koenig-Lewis, N. (2010), “Primary and Secondary Effects of Emotions on Behavioural Intention of Theatre Clients”, Journal of Marketing Management, 26(13/14), 1201-1217.

[ii] Ravanas, P. (2006), “Born to Be Wise: The Steppenwolf Theatre Company Mixes Freedom with Management Savvy”, International Journal of Arts Management, 8 (3), 64-76.

[iii] Gainer, B. (1995), “Rituals and Relationships: Interpersonal Influences on Shared Consumption”, Journal of Business Research, 32, 253-260.

[iv] Caru, A., B. Cova, (2005), “The Impact of Service Elements on the Artistic Experience: The Case of Classical Music Concerts.” International Journal of Arts Management, 7(2) 39–55.

[v] Voss, Z.G., V. Cova (2006), “How sex differences in perceptions influence customer Satisfaction: A Study of Theatre Audiences”, Marketing Theory, 6(2), 201-221

From Buddies to Brampton: Managing Cultural Policy and Planning in One of Canada’s Fastest Growing Cities

Rose Theatre in Brampton. Photo: John Ryan.

Brendan HealyBrendan Healy was Artistic Director of the world-renowned Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto for seven seasons. He graduated from the MMIAM program in 2016 and is now the Artistic Director of Performing Arts for the City of Brampton.  What motivated him to pursue the MMIAM program and how has his career path changed as a result? Laura Adlers caught up with Brendan in Brampton to find out more.

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

I was ready for new challenges and I wanted to run a larger organization. Although I felt that I had good managerial instincts, I also knew that I was missing some fundamentals in management and business to get to the next level. My educational background to date had only been in art school. I forged my career as a theatre director before moving into artistic direction and management.

What are your primary responsibilities as Artistic Director of Performing Arts for the City of Brampton?

Brampton is a former sleepy suburb of Toronto that has in recent years grown into one of the largest cities in Canada. Its growth rate is one of the highest in North America, it has the youngest median age in the country, and over 65% of the population is non-white. As part of my portfolio, I am responsible for the management and programming of five venues spread across the city. I also participate in the development and articulation of cultural policy at the municipal level.

Rose Theatre in Brampton. Photo: John Ryan.

Rose Theatre in Brampton. Photo: John Ryan.

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

Each course had a lot to offer me, but I believe that my thesis research is the thing I will carry with me the longest in my profession. It gave me the opportunity to dig deeply into an area of professional curiosity – organizational innovation in non-profit theatres –  and I was able to research an international organization that I had long admired, South London’s Battersea Arts Centre. It truly felt like the culmination of so much of what I had learned and it allowed me to tackle a number of questions that had been circulating in my head for a while.

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

Adaptability is a big one. The ability to perceive and acknowledge differences while also finding commonalities is another one. But, most importantly, I expanded my toolbox of ideas, approaches, and solutions to managerial problems.

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

What made them all memorable was how they compared to and contrasted with one another. It’s really hard to look at them in isolation. However, on an emotional level, I was particularly moved by our time in Bogotá. There is an energy to that city that is so incredibly exciting and I find the ways in which culture and community intersect there to be very beautiful.

What is one of the greatest challenges facing arts managers in Canada today?
How do you think these challenges need to be addressed?

There are currently a number of social, economic, political and technological changes that are impacting arts management in Canada. The country is going through tremendous demographic changes, rooted in immigration and urbanization. The rapid evolution of the internet and mobile technologies have induced huge changes in customer behavior. Audiences have an unprecedented level of choice for arts, entertainment and culture, and this has resulted in the proliferation of multiple, smaller niche audiences. The amount of free entertainment and user-generated content on the internet has created a challenge for traditional arts and culture institutions that operate under a different paradigm. The relative uncertainty of the economy and the slow recovery from the 2007 financial crisis have had an impact on the long-term reliability of public funding.

All of these challenges mean that arts managers of the future will need to focus on innovative, outside-the-box thinking to stay alive and relevant. This means looking at new ways of developing and integrating audiences in cultural institutions that undo some of the rigid separations between artists and audiences. It means actively disrupting the Eurocentric narratives and colonial dynamics that get perpetuated through institutionalized art and culture. It means fully embracing technologies and the multiple ways in which they can enhance and/or form the backbone of a cultural experience. It means expanding the way in which arts and culture defines its value to society beyond the “art for art’s sake” argument. It means looking at new managerial structures inside our arts organizations that foster greater adaptability and responsiveness to the needs of the communities that we serve.