Celebrating Cultural Diversity and Sharing the Magic of Cirque du Soleil with the World: In Conversation with Daniel Lamarre

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Daniel Lamarre (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

Daniel Lamarre, O.C., is the President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, one of the most successful entertainment enterprises in the world. He is also a member of the MMIAM program’s International Advisory Committee. Students in the program have the privilege of visiting Cirque du Soleil’s creative headquarters in Montréal to tour the facilities and meet with Mr. Lamarre. Laura Adlers recently interviewed him about Cirque programs, what happens behind the scenes and what he looks for when hiring an arts manager.

Many people don’t realize how big the Cirque du Soleil corporation is. Could you give us an idea of the scope of the organization?

We are currently going through a period of growth, so the number is changing frequently, but at the moment we employ somewhere between 5,000-6,000 employees around the world. Many of them are based here in Montréal in our creative centre, about 2,000 are based in Las Vegas where we have seven shows, and the remaining are travelling the world with all of our different shows. There are 50 different nationalities represented in Cirque and we are touring 23 unique programs in 60 countries and 450 cities around the world. There is no other entertainment company touring with such a broad scope as Cirque.

I have about 25 vice presidents who are in charge of different mandates which support the organization, requiring a variety of different skills and expertise — from touring to marketing, ticket sales to costume design and production. There are also many logistical processes happening in the background, such as immigration and legal issues, translation, training and financial processes.

The bad news about touring as much as we do is that there is a lot of paperwork, a lot of legal issues which need to be taken care of. The good news is that we have many years of experience with this and have all of the right mechanisms in place to keep things running smoothly. It also means that the barrier for entry into this field by our competition is very, very high, because we are really unique in the industry in this regard. It takes a wide variety of expertise to run an organization like Cirque.

Cirque du Soleil's Bazzar opening act (photo credit: Marie-Andrée Lemire).

Cirque du Soleil’s BAZZAR opening act (photo credit: Marie-Andrée Lemire).

What role does cultural diplomacy play in the countries where you have ongoing productions?

First of all, there is a lot of talk in cultural industries about diversity. At Cirque, we don’t talk about diversity, we LIVE diversity. In any given show, we have at least 20 nationalities represented, which over our 35 years of existence have contributed towards developing artistic content that is relevant on an international level. In addition, travelling internationally, we see ourselves as Canadian ambassadors, meaning that wherever we go, we like to share our culture with local cultural organizations. Over the years, we have developed an amazing international network of artists, creators and cultural organizations and this is also part of our mission — to help artists around the world develop their passion and their talent. I am particularly proud that at Cirque, we employ over 2,500 artists from around the world and we are able to provide an opportunity for them to live their dreams – to travel the world and show their artistic passion through their performance.

Tell us about your community outreach programs.

We have two major causes that we support internationally and we have a lot of community involvement in our neighbourhood here in Montréal as well. Internationally, we have a program called “Cirque du Monde”, where we work with at-risk youth, teaching them about circus art. What we have discovered is that if you reach out to these kids and teach them about circus art, they regain their self-esteem and many decide to go back to school. This program has been around for 30 years now and has been implemented very successfully in cities where Cirque performs.

Cirque du Monde (courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

Cirque du Monde (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

In addition, about ten years ago, Cirque founder Guy Laliberté and I launched a project called “One Drop”, which is tied to our dream of resolving the water issues that exist around the world. Cirque is a founding member of this foundation, and we are working in a lot of countries where water is tough to find. We go into these communities and provide funding and other resources to bring in water sources which are healthy and sustainable.

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 very important, because a lot of entertainment organizations say they are international, but they are not. Most of the organizations I know are North America or US-centric, and I think there is much more to offer. Every time I visit a new country, I discover a new culture.  I discover the richness of artistic content of different countries. I am not just talking about large countries, or developed countries. I am also talking about emerging countries that have a lot to offer through their legacy, through their heritage. There is a lot of artistic content that is quite relevant and exciting to discover.

My hope is that a program like MMIAM will help promote the diversity of cultures around the world and will stimulate people to discover cultures outside their own countries. Similarly, I hope that artists will also reach beyond their own countries and look for opportunities to perform in other parts of the world.

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One Drop Foundation – Central-America Wash House (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

How would you describe your management philosophy and style?

Cirque is not a one man or one woman show. We are very much a collective. I tell people that I am not here to decide, I am here to convince. If I convince people of my plan, they will be supportive. So, my style is to consult my colleagues, to hear their thoughts and get their input, before I make a decision about a plan. I always want my colleagues to feel they have been part of the process.

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

First and foremost, the desire to travel around the world. If you want to have a very normal life, you are in the wrong place! Most of us are travelling all the time, and we don’t have a job here, we have a lifestyle. So it takes someone who has a passion for what we do here, combined with a desire to travel and discover different cultures. In a time where, unfortunately, many people are returning to a focus on their own backyard, we are doing the opposite. We care about the planet, we care about what’s happening in the world. That’s the kind of people we’re looking for – people who share our vision and are comfortable with our lifestyle.

What are some of the future projects in the works for Cirque du Soleil?

We have a five year plan, but in reality it is a cycle of two years, because it takes two years to produce a new show. The coming year will be particularly fruitful, because we have a new big top show opening in April in Montréal. We have a new show opening in the summer in Hangzhou, China and another show opening in the fall in Las Vegas. We have a new ice show, which is a new format we have developed. This show will open in the fall as well. So we have a very busy schedule in the coming months – we are adding ten new Cirque shows in various cities around the world!

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LUZIA (Photo credit: Matt Beard).

Combining Management Strengths with a Passion for the Arts: In Conversation with Cultural Entrepreneur Jozef Spiteri


Jozef Spiteri (Photo: Nell Pfeiffer).Jozef Spiteri graduated from the MMIAM program in 2015. Prior to his graduate studies, he was working for Montreal’s MURAL Festival. He is now working for POP Montreal, as Director of Partnerships, where he creates transformative art and music experiences using the power of creative collaboration. Laura Adlers caught up with him recently to learn about his experience with the MMIAM program and what he is doing now.


Your LinkedIn profile says you are a ‘creative troublemaker’. Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am a creative troublemaker who tries to approach the world in a fresh and original way that is not shaped by preconceptions. My commitment to and passion for managing creative projects and promoting them to new audiences has propelled me into the creative industry. Working on projects related to audience experience offers a perfect opportunity to combine my management strengths with my devotion for the arts.

I am playful, persistent and curious. I have held positions in festivals, concert halls and communications and marketing agencies; I also work internationally. I am most passionate about: brand/culture alignment, experiential & creative events, event production, sponsor activation, creative content, digital marketing, social media strategy, lifestyle marketing, and artist management.


Jozef Spiteri: working while playing (photo credit: Jonah Clifford).

What was your goal in pursuing graduate studies and the MMIAM program?

HEC’s MMIAM program is unlike any other. My intention was to gain an international understanding of the intersection of business and arts. I was enticed by the combination of world-class professors and first-hand experience in the field.

The valuable experience of studying in the various countries helped us gain an understanding of how the arts are financed and packaged before being enjoyed by both locals and tourists. Through the specialized knowledge of the professors and guest lecturers, we were exposed to a broad range of unique points of view and ways of approaching different cultural experiences.

The network of peers that I have surrounded myself with through this program is truly invaluable. On a daily basis, I make use of transferable skills by putting into practice concepts taught in various countries and am able to bounce ideas off of my former classmates.

Which courses helped you the most in realizing these goals?

The courses that helped me the most given my field of work were the fundraising course with Jolynne Jensen (SMU, Dallas), international marketing with François Colbert (HEC Montreal), the leadership course with Wendy Reid (HEC Montreal) and entrepreneurship with Mikkel Draebye (SDA Bocconi, Milan).

I found that my experience was much more than the content of the courses. I truly learned how to be adaptable. My classmates and I attended a diverse range of courses, pivoted through different school systems (in different time zones) and got to collaborate with students from around the world. This gave me a comprehensive understanding of soft power and how it works within different economic contexts and how we find intersections and common goals in order to collaborate.

Where are you working now?

I am currently the Director of Partnership for POP Montreal International Music Festival. POP is an annual not-for-profit curated cultural event that champions independence in the arts by presenting emerging and celebrated artistic talents from around the world. This festival runs year-round, culminating in a week of shows in Montreal.

I tap into the international connections established during my time in the MMIAM program to further the festival’s mission of championing emerging artists.


Last night of POP Montréal 2018 (photo credit: Ming Wu).

What are important life and professional skills necessary to be a successful cultural entrepreneur?

Cultural entrepreneurs are both agents of change and resourceful visionaries who organize cultural, financial, social and human capital, to generate revenue from a cultural activity.

In other words, as a cultural entrepreneur, I use both sides of my brain – my arts side and my business side. I use a human and experience-centered approach that is founded on the principles of good business and strategic partnerships.

What advice would you give to future students looking to embark on the MMIAM Journey?

My advice to future students is to participate fully in the program, attend class, and get to know your classmates. Not only will they become lifelong friends but also key members of your network.

If you are able to balance school and extracurriculars, take the time to attend conferences and discover underground art scenes in each city. Look into various types of art, you can learn just as much from street art as you can from Alexander Calder’s mobiles.

Ask lots of questions — ask your professors, your classmates and the locals in the various cities of the program. Learning is not confined to the walls of the classroom. There is so much to discover in our exciting field!

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MMIAM’s second cohort at Monserrate, Bogota, Colombia, 2015 (Laura Adlers’ archive).

Harnessing Technology to Optimize the Customer Relationship: The Case of Cirque du Soleil (Abridged)

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by André Courchesne, Philippe Ravanas and Cristian Pulido

Since becoming Vice-President of Cirque du Soleil’s E-Marketing and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Department in 2016, Martin Céré has managed to transform the organization’s database, not only by boosting the number of customer profiles from 5 to 15 million, but also by expanding its use, notably in relation to social media.

This case study describes how a unified approach was developed by integrating email campaigns, box office, electronic distribution, user profile modelling, data enrichment, sales forecasting and dynamic pricing with a view to strengthening the customer relationship, building customer loyalty and creating personalized offerings.


AMALUNA (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

While Cirque du Soleil continues to perform its shows around the world with great success, the arrival of Martin Céré brought about a profound transformation of the customer relationship by shifting the focus from traditional email campaigns centred on a product orientation to an integrated vision of the customer relationship based on a market orientation. According to Martin Céré, thanks to today’s technology, it is now possible to “manage the entire customer relationship and its evolution by gathering, structuring, enriching and managing every piece of information and interaction related to the customer experience.”

The information collected includes identifying data (name, address, phone number, email address), data related to interest in Cirque’s shows (demographic and psychographic data, data related to purchasing behaviour, satisfaction and transactions) and data based on customers’ electronic habits (website visits, history of electronic transactions). While the task of gathering such large amounts of data requires discipline and rigour, the outcome is coherent, quantifiable and usable results that facilitate future interactions with customers and save time and money while building loyalty toward Cirque du Soleil.

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Audience at AMALUNA (Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil).

In addition, Cirque enriches its database using information gathered from social media and data aggregators (for instance, based on data mined from loyalty cards). This allows the company to, for example, identify eight or nine potential consumer segments and to test each one using targeted offerings. According to several studies, data gathered from consumers’ Google or Facebook searches are much more accurate than the information provided by traditional surveys in that they eliminate the social conformity bias. For example, the use of psychographic attributes on Facebook (age, gender, personality traits, etc.) makes it possible to describe each segment with greater precision and to more accurately target prospective consumers. Finally, post-show electronic surveys facilitate the measurement of audience satisfaction for each show in each market, acting as a kind of daily barometer of satisfaction.

The article highlights the fact that the success of customer relationship management depends not only on technology, but also on the company’s organizational structure, management of human resources, performance evaluation and sensitive ethical issues. In concluding, Martin Céré mentions several projects he has developed with the aim of enhancing the customer relationship, improving satisfaction and building sustainable loyalty, including a website personalization project, an automated purchasing process and virtual product offerings.

Less is More at Bruce Wood Dance in Dallas: In Conversation with Executive Director Gayle Halperin

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Gayle Halperin (photo: Brian Guilliaux)

Gayle Halperin is a former professional dancer and the administrative force behind Bruce Wood Dance since 2010. She is also the newest member of the MMIAM program’s International Advisory Committee. Laura Adlers interviewed her recently to learn more about Bruce Wood Dance and her role there.

Who was Bruce Wood and how was Bruce Wood Dance formed?

Bruce Wood was the heart and soul of  Bruce Wood Dance. He was a Texan, raised in Fort Worth, so after going off and establishing his career as a professional dancer, he returned to Fort Worth in his 30s and formed the Bruce Wood Dance Company, presenting its seasons out of Bass Performance Hall. He was the Artistic Director and sole choreographer, so he was creating new works specifically for the company all the time. He was very successful, the company was touring nationally. However, as the company continued to grow, funding the company became more challenging and it ended up folding in 2007.

He had made great strides with the company. They were performing four shows a year, building a new dance audience, so when the company folded there was a big gap, there was nothing comparable happening in the region. I went to speak with him and asked if he would consider beginning a new version of the company in Dallas called Bruce Wood Dance Project. This was in 2010, around the time the Dallas Arts District, the Winspear Opera House, and the Wyly Theatre had just opened.  Bruce was intrigued and appreciative of the support coming from the Dallas Arts District and started to create new works for Dallas Black Dance Theatre and the dance program at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. We were bringing Bruce Wood Dance back to life one project at a time.

Bruce Wood, Photographer Brian Guilliaux

Bruce Wood, Photographer Brian Guilliaux

In 2014, Bruce died unexpectedly and, in spite of this terrible loss, the Board of Directors decided they wanted to continue, to keep Bruce’s dance company alive and growing, so here we are today! We changed the name in 2017 to Bruce Wood Dance, at the suggestion of an agent we hired to represent us for touring and promotion.

I understand you have volunteered your services to the organization from the very beginning. Who else works with you at the company?

I started out with Bruce as his business partner, and have volunteered my time and expertise in an administrative role to this day. For the longest time, it was just Bruce and I running the organization, but I just got the official title of Executive Director last year! In fact, I am in a position to also help fund the operations of the organization, and we now have two staff members – a Development Manager and an Operations Manager. Our creative director who creates our branding and marketing collateral has been with us from the beginning. On the artistic team, we have an Artistic Director, an Artistic Advisor, a Rehearsal Director, and ten dancers – five men and five women.

RED - choreographer Bruce Wood, Lighting Designer Tony Tucci, Photographer Sharen Bradford.

RED – choreographer Bruce Wood, Lighting Designer Tony Tucci, Photographer Sharen Bradford.

What distinguishes Bruce Wood Dance from other dance companies in America?

Our mission is to harness the power of dance, to entertain, enrich and heal through all of our programs, whether they are educational outreach classes, mainstage productions, or collaboration with other Dallas arts organizations. Bruce created productions about emotional experiences that are common to our humanity and one of his many gifts was his ability to tap into the nuances of a broad range of emotions – from something that is very funny to a very intimate experience to loneliness and profound grief. His motto was “less is more”; he did not like melodrama. For him, it was about simplicity and honing a creative idea down to the essence. He believed that every audience member should be able to watch a dance performance and know what the dance was about. So we continue to perform his work, but also commission new works with choreographers who share his esthetic.

Tell us about some of your outreach programs.

We launched our first outreach dance program with the Nexus Recovery Centre, which is a facility that provides rehabilitation and housing for women who are suffering from addiction and domestic abuse. We started teaching classes there in 2014 and now teach two classes a week for most of the year. The healing aspect of dance is so important there.

When we started working at Nexus, we also provided complimentary tickets to the women we were working with and we would often have about 30 of them at our shows. This was so successful that we decided to extend this offer to a wide range of groups, from social service organizations and their clients to the Girl Scouts to middle school students! In total, we now provide about 250 tickets to the weekend productions (in a 750 capacity theatre), with the goal of making dance accessible to everyone, especially to those who may not be able to attend on their own or who may never have experienced a dance performance before.

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

We are such a global community these days that it is so important to understand how the arts work in other parts of the world. We are developing very strong relationships with international dance groups and moving beyond local interaction. This provides more opportunities and growth for the organization, so it is so important to understand the dynamics and necessary skills for managing the arts on a global scale.

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

First and foremost, passion for and understanding about dance. You can certainly learn about it, but dance doesn’t receive the same level of funding as other disciplines, so it is really essential to have someone who is well connected and passionate about the dance industry and able to talk about and sell dance. You also need lots of energy and imagination and drive!

What are some of your future plans for Bruce Wood Dance?

I would really love for us to tour more in the future, across the United States and beyond. Last year, we toured quite a bit. We performed at Jacob’s Pillow last July, which was a big milestone, but to date,we have primarily toured throughout Texas. We have an agent now, so are hoping our touring activity will increase in the near future.

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Bolero — choreographer Bruce Wood, Lighting Designer Tony Tucci, Photographer Sharen Bradford.

Learning to Slow Down and Program “With” a Rural Cultural Community: In Conversation with Marie Bobin

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Marie Bobin (Photo: Yulia Gervits).Marie Bobin is a member of the first MMIAM cohort, completing the program in 2014. She entered the program with 10 years of broad arts management experience in the United Kingdom and the United States. Marie is now living in the high desert of San Bernardino County in Southern California and working as an independent arts management consultant with an interesting range of clients. Laura Adlers interviewed Marie to learn about the challenges and opportunities that come with working in a rural cultural community.


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

Prior to applying to the program, I had 10 years of experience working as an arts administrator. I started my career in the UK as the development producer for the Finborough Theatre, an Off West End venue premiering new works by emerging playwrights. When I returned to the US, I gained valuable museum experience working for the J.Paul Getty Museum’s education and registrar departments before being appointed Director of Operations and Events for the Jules Verne Film Festival’s US branch of operations.

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

Having been raised in a bi-cultural setting, I have always had a keen interest in intercultural communication. The arts’ ability to bridge cultural divides and to promote cross-cultural understanding is what first led me to pursue a B.A in Theatre Studies. With a decade of experience behind me, I realized I needed a stronger foundation in cultural policy and a broader international perspective in order to realize the kinds of projects I wanted to develop. The MMIAM program allowed me to gain policy perspective on a global scale and to learn not only from some of the best academics in the field but also from my cohort’s broad expertise.

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

After graduating from the MMIAM program, I was fortunate to work for the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles as the program specialist and later as the creative producer for the programs department. Our team was responsible for producing and programming film, theater, literary, and music festivals and events. I am grateful for this chapter in my career, working for an institution guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and fostering human connection through cultural programs that celebrate discovery and hope while helping to build a more just society.

Arts Connection Mixer. Photo: Bill Green.

Arts Connection Mixer. Photo: Bill Green.

After moving to the high desert of San Bernardino County in Southern California, bordered by Joshua Tree National Park, I started working as a freelance producer and cultural programmer. Working as a consultant has given me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of organizations and to collaborate with a dynamic group of cultural organizers.

What kinds of projects are you working on right now?

The first organization I started working with when I moved to the area, and continue to work with to this day, is Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology, a residency and performance program for international artists and environmental activists based in the late American composer Lou Harrison’s desert retreat in Joshua Tree. The residency program awards great minds with the time to create and share their best work in a historic and inspiring setting.

I am also working with the Palm Springs Dance Festival. Now in its third year, the festival producers approached me to help broaden their programming with a dance film series. Our aim for the inaugural Dance on Film program was two-fold: 1) to lower the perceived barrier to entry and introduce new audiences to dance via the medium of film, and 2) to showcase the cross-cultural and intergenerational power of dance. I am thrilled with the line-up, which meets these goals and I can’t wait to share it with our new and returning audiences.

Looking ahead, I recently completed a National Endowment for the Arts grant proposal to produce a month-long NEA Big Read program in the high desert in the Fall of 2019. Although the grant awards will not be determinded until April, the grant process itself was an enriching experience. Working with Arts Connection, the Arts Council of San Bernardino, we were able to bring together 25 partner organizations to participate in two dozen programs. It’s a huge community effort which will help promote literacy and the arts while creating opportunities for residents to gather, connect, and participate in free cultural programs throughout the region.

What is one of the greatest challenges you face as an arts manager in your cultural community? How are you addressing these challenges?

As a producer working in a rural or non-metropolitan community for the first time, I have had to make a conscious effort to slow down and spend time truly understanding the needs of my community and how my skills can support those needs. Whether one is working in a rural or urban setting, it is crucial to distinguish between programming “at” a community versus programming “with” a community. It’s for this reason that I decided the NEA Big Read would be a valuable first large-scale community-wide program that would help showcase some of the vibrant work local artists and organizations are already engaged in.

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

The program’s theoretical coursework in every arts management discipline, coupled with field work and lectures by international arts leaders, provided me with a strong foundation in cultural management. It also gifted me a family of colleagues from whom I continue to learn and with whom I am hoping to plan future collaborations.


The members of the first MMIAM cohort in Milan, Italy.

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

It was truly daunting to understand on a micro level how our European and Latin-American colleagues don’t face the same continous struggle in needing to defend and promote the value of the arts. There is a deeper intrinsic understanding of the “why” in other countries around the world, as well as a stronger integration of arts education in national curricula. It’s for this reason that I strongly believe in and continue to produce intergenerational events, giving the next generation a chance to experience the arts at a young age.

Customer Relationships in Arts Marketing: A Review of Key Dimensions in Delivery by Artistic and Cultural Organizations (Abridged)

by François Colbert and Danilo C. Dantas

What do we know about the customer relationship in arts management? What role does relational marketing play in cultural organizations? What are the avenues worth exploring in this field? These are the main questions addressed in this article.

There are few fields where the customer relationship is more crucially important than in the arts and cultural sector. But there are several dimensions to this relationship. The quality of the artistic product no longer suffices. In today’s hyper competitive marketplace, the sheer variety and quality of offerings vying for consumers’ attention have forced arts organizations to invest in other aspects of the customer experience. For example, the success of the Tessitura database illustrates how arts and cultural organizations can improve the customer experience and build a stronger relationship with consumers. The development of new audiences also relies on a deeper understanding of their expectations and behaviours.

The evolution of marketing and technology has inspired researchers to explore these new trends from different angles, adding to a growing body of literature. These studies on the relationship between arts organizations and their customers have sometimes produced conflicting results. This article seeks to encourage further debate on these issues by tracing the origins of this line of research and presenting an overview of the main findings thus far.

Drawing on different texts from the literature, the article first turns its attention to the use of the product orientation and market orientation in the arts and the variations in their effectiveness depending on the type of customer. The article then presents the main factors (aesthetic, social, service-related) affecting the quality of the customer experience and discusses the importance of the notion of co-creation in the cultural sector. The authors then move on to explore the role of emotions, involvement, pleasure and the quality of the customer relationship in the development of satisfaction, repurchase or recommendation intentions, and loyalty toward a cultural organization or product.

By way of conclusion, the article calls for a reflection on two crucial avenues of investigation that have received little attention to date. The first concerns the huge impact that the shifting demographics, cultural changes and technological developments of recent years have had on the different types of cultural consumers and their defining characteristics. An investigation of these new types of consumers that goes beyond the usual subscriber/non-subscriber dichotomy is required in order to gain a clearer understanding of the type of relationship they want to establish with the cultural organization. Second, in a context where most research in the field of arts marketing has relied on traditional methods such as surveys, qualitative interviews and observation, this article invites researchers to adopt innovative approaches in their research into the relationship between consumers and arts organizations. Longitudinal studies, for example, could help us better understand the evolution of the relationship between a group of customers and a specific organization. Moreover, neurophysiological methods such as eye tracking and analysis of facial micro-expressions could afford better insight into the reactions of consumers to specific changes in the artistic experience. These new avenues of research offer researchers a valuable opportunity to design innovative and impactful studies that will improve our comprehension of the customer relationship in the field of arts and cultural marketing.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 21, Number 2, Winter 2019.

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts – A “Humanistic” Museum with a Holistic Vision: In Conversation with Nathalie Bondil

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Nathalie Bondil (photo: André Tremblay)

Nathalie Bondil is the Director General and Chief Curator of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts and has recently joined the MMIAM program’s International Advisory Committee. Under Nathalie’s direction, the Museum has garnered international recognition for its innovative partnerships and programming. Among the many honours she has received, Nathalie Bondil has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada and recently received the Peter Herrndorf Arts Leadership Award from Business for the Arts. Laura Adlers had the privilege of interviewing Nathalie about the MMFA projects which are making headlines around the world.

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is internationally recognized for its diverse and innovative programming, involving at least 450 partnerships with associations, clinics, hospitals, research centres and universities. One initiative in particular – the “museum prescription program” – received a lot of media attention recently. Can you tell us a bit about it?

This idea took shape several years ago when I envisioned the MMFA as a “humanistic” museum with a holistic vision, collaborating with the scientific community to build bridges between sciences and humanities. It was, in fact, a dream to enlist the support of doctors and neuroscientists who have conducted research on the benefits of culture and cultural institutions like museums on a person’s well-being. Doctors cannot actually prescribe a visit to a museum, of course, but they support the idea that a museum is a great asset in our community and that exposure to culture – to art, museums, music – makes us feel better. We now know that not only does visiting a museum or hearing a concert make us feel better on an individual level, but it also facilitates social interaction between people, between our friends and family.

For years, I discussed this holistic vision with my brother, a surgeon, and finally presented it to members of the Association des Médecins francophones du Canada. They who found it very interesting. We have just launched the pilot program on the first of November. In one year’s time we will meet again and review the results. It is true that there has been a real buzz about this program which has received a lot of press around the world! The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto asked us about the program, best practices, etc., and have launched their own “prescription” program as well.

Of course, this idea of “prescribing” a visit to the museum is by no means meant to replace medication or a medical treatment but could be added to it, just like exercise, for example.

MMFA-MFdC Museum prescription. Photo MBAM, Jean-François Brière.

MMFA-MFdC Museum prescription. Photo MBAM, Jean-François Brière.

This is just one pilot project among a dozen we are developing at our museum. For instance, we are partnering with Dr. Howard Steiger at the Douglas Institute on a project integrating art and museum visits to a treatment program aimed at people with eating disorders. In total, we have 450 partnerships thanks to our program “Sharing the Museum”. They are being boosted by our new Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Art Therapy and Education recognized for its innovative actions.

The MMFA also has a unique relationship with the music community in Montréal. Can you tell us about the music programming at the museum?

This is another element of our interdisciplinary approach to programming. It was launched in 2011, when we opened Bourgie Hall, a new professional concert hall built inside a church the Museum acquired. It presents about 150 classical, jazz and world music concerts every year, plus 50 educational programs. For a museum to host a music organisation in residence is highly unusual… and a great success.

Bourgie Hall, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Paul Boisvert.

Bourgie Hall, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Paul Boisvert.

Bourgie Hall has its own production and administrative teams, all employees of a foundation, Arte Musica. They collaborate with our curatorial and educative teams to develop the season’s programming linking live concerts with current exhibitions as was the case, for example, during the Chagall: Colour and Music exhibit (2017). This season, a concert featuring the music of Ann Southam will be set in the pavilion dedicated to Canadian and Quebec art so the audience is surrounded by the works of the composer’s contemporaries.

Another dream has also come true: opening a new cinema hall, thus making good use of our underused auditorium. Programming for the “Cinema du Musée” has been entrusted to the expert team of “Cinémas Beaubien and Du Parc” as an exchange service with the MMFA. Although independent, its programming is developed to complement the museum’s exhibition calendar. We hope to open a second cinema hall next year. I was able to enlist a generous sponsor for the first hall but we must fundraise for the second hall.

These initiatives follow the same approach as that for the “prescription” project: we bring in the experts (in medicine, music, cinema, etc.) to collaborate with us on developing a powerful program. That makes our plans that much stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s a win-win situation.

MMIAM students have the immense privilege of meeting with you during their studies in Montreal. You share with them the business philosophy that informs all of your decisions for programming and partnerships at the MMFA. Can you share this business philosophy with our readers?

The role of a museum is to explain our lives, the world around us. In my view, we receive a wonderful gift, the rich heritage of our ancestors, and so it is our mission to preserve and enrich the collections and to keep this institution alive for artists and relevant for the younger generation. Art also reveals that each era faces social issues and challenges. The museum is like a tree – its roots digging deep into the ground are the past while its branches reaching for the sky are our present and future. The museum and the keys it holds to the past are very important tools in understanding current issues and imagining our futures. Please refer to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s guide Culture and Local Development: Maximising the Impact, for an overview of our social and health innovations.

It is important to make people think and to allay, for example, fears about immigration through exhibitions. It is a kind of citizens’ diplomacy which we practice: being open-minded and creating dialogue through art in a very subtle way through our exhibits. We can be very useful and efficient in creating a peaceful future for all of us through concrete actions… like our awarded Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavillion for Peace.

The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, level 1 – The Salons of the Belle Époque: Romanticism. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo © Marc Cramer.

The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, level 1 – The Salons of the Belle Époque: Romanticism. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo © Marc Cramer.

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

Everything “inter” is good! – interdisciplinary, international, intersectoral, intergenerational – because it is important, especially now, to understand other points of views, other cultures. We live in a country of citizens from so many different backgrounds. It is important for everyone to learn from one another and imagine a future together and to make it work. We must develop a global citizenship as we must face global ecological issues. In this perspective, we will inaugurate, in 2019, The Stephan Crétier ans Stéphany Maillery Wing for World Cultures and Togetherness.

What specific qualities do you look for when you are hiring an arts manager that are unique to working at an art museum?

I look for positive, empathetic, open-minded and motivated people. Education is important to a certain extent, and having a background in fine arts is obviously a must, but openness and commitment is as essential as character. The profile of the entrepreneur is what I like the most!

What are some of your future plans for the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts?

Having a curious and entrepreneurial personality, we keep bringing new ideas with concrete actions. I have just signed an important partnership with AVATAQ, the Inuit cultural organization of Nunavik (North of Quebec) which the Museum will host in residency in 2021.

Many of the things I do are possible only because I am in Canada. It is easier to be innovative and entrepreneurial here and so I also want to pay tribute to this great country. The world needs more open-minded places like Quebec and Canada!

School activity. The Museum of Fine Arts of Montreal. Photo: Caroline Hayeur / Collectif Stock Photo.

School activity. The Museum of Fine Arts of Montréal. Photo: Caroline Hayeur / Collectif Stock Photo.

Dancing on the Edge of Innovation: MMIAM Graduate Leaves Italy to Join Dance Therapy Team at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens

Anna-Aglietta-ILL-Abilities - Credit_ Kien Quan-xsm

Anna AgliettaAnna Aglietta graduated from the MMIAM program in 2017. Originally from Turin, Italy, she is one of the first two graduates of the program to have received a double Master degree in international arts management from both Bocconi University and HEC Montréal. Anna became interested in arts management, because she wanted to be more in contact with people and work in a field using the arts to directly help society. She decided the MMIAM degree would offer her the academic and cultural experience to help realize her goal. Laura Adlers recently caught up with her at her new job in Montréal, Canada.


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

I am an Assistant to the National Centre for Dance Therapy at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. The centre’s mission is to support dance intervention and dance for the well-being of people, and they also conduct research and support other research projects about the health benefits of dance. For example, we offer services in dance therapy through hospitals, schools and prisons, and we are starting a new program in a youth prison here in Quebec. We also offer classes in our studios for anyone who wants to take dance classes adapted to their needs. For example, we offer ballet classes for children with Down Syndrome, or hip-hop for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Adapted Danse at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Photo: Patrick Pleau.

Adapted Danse at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Photo: Patrick Pleau.

As the Assistant, I coordinate the day-to-day activities, but in particular I provide marketing support and help to organize events. I also help with fundraising and grantwriting. We are a small staff of three in this department, so we are all doing a bit of everything!

What aspect(s) of the program were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

I certainly use a lot of tools I learned in marketing and fundraising, but I think the most important aspect was the international nature of our class. We came from eight different countries. We all learned a lot from one another and our shared experiences from our home countries. It forced me to challenge myself and others and to look at things from different perspectives.

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

Being flexible, adapting to working with others in new environments and learning to compromise in a team environment, especially with students from different parts of the world. Our cohort had students from Italy, China, India, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Iran and Japan.

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

Definitely Montréal, so much so that I stayed! I arrived and I fell in love with the city, the vibe of the people, their openness. I was reluctant about the Montréal part of the program before I applied, I was worried about the snow and cold, coming from Italy, but I really love it!

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

It has shown me that Italy still has some work to do in terms of exploring new ideas. Young people need to find their own place and find a way to combine the status quo, which is based on a more traditional system, with more contemporary approaches, to best highlight what our beautiful country has to offer.

ILL Abilities at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Photo: Kien Quan.

ILL Abilities at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Photo: Kien Quan.

The arts world is changing, but it is slow and it requires changing the way people think there, which will take time. I didn’t realize this until I did the MMIAM program, met other arts managers and learned about arts organizations in other countries. The program allowed me to see the differences between Italy and other parts of the world. Montréal in particular is really lively, very open to debate and challenging common opinions, to innovation and new ideas by the public, not just at the high level in the institutions. Les Grands Ballets, for instance, really tries to connect with the general public through its programming, that tries to offer something for everyone. Moreover, the multicultural aspect of Montréal, and the fact that so many different cultures live peacefully together, is so interesting and inspirational to me.

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

The current government in Italy (with a populist leader) seems to be focusing its investments in support of an older part of the population, to the detriment of youth programs, culture, and education. Artists and arts organizations are doing a really good job at encouraging public opinion and trying to open up debate. I think arts managers are trying to find their role in supporting Italian values, as well as human values. An example is the immigration debate, which at the moment dominates Italian politics. Many artists and arts organization have come up with initiatives and performances supporting cultural diversity and inclusion. For instance, the Egyptian museum in Turin offers free entrance to Arabic natives (in acknowledgement of the origin of the museum’s collection). To me, the fact that this was debated goes to show the importance that arts can have in promoting social change.

What is one of the challenges you face in your role at Les Grands Ballets?

What Les Grands Ballets is trying to do is change the way people think about dance and the way that dance can affect people’s lives.  We want people to know that this is not just high art. We also provide a safe and accessible space for people to come and heal through our dance therapy program. It is also a challenge to convince those who don’t understand the benefits of the arts and dance therapy that it can really help to improve people’s health. For example, some of the populations we serve suffer from chronic pain or mental health issues,  and research has shown that dance therapy is very successful at alleviating their symptoms, so we are always working on communicating the benefits to the public and promoting the program.

The members of the MMIAM's 4th cohort visit Jacanamijoy in Bogota.

The members of the MMIAM’s 4th cohort visit Jacanamijoy in Bogota.

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts: Balancing International Reach and Strong Local Roots (Abridged)

1993 Portrait-of-Hugo-Simons-sm

by Serge Poisson-de Haro, François Normandin and Emmanuel Coblence

While the most renowned art mega-museums located in global cities are characterized by their attendance figures and the wealth of their collections, museums that are of medium size and located in culturally influential cities have also succeeded in making a name for themselves. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) has implemented a model that enables it to realize its ambitions by mounting temporary exhibitions that strengthen its local roots and enhance its international reach while maintaining the highest standards. Under the leadership of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator since 2007, this museum has become a widely recognized cultural institution. Following conversations with members of MMFA senior management, the authors identify the main factors behind the simultaneous strengthening of local roots and global impact.

Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Bernard Fougères et Jean-François Lejeune.

Jean-Noël Desmarais pavilion, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo: Bernard Fougères and Jean-François Lejeune.

As with many museums, the evolution of the MMFA during the past two decades saw a radical shift from “museum as temple” centred on an original mission of conservation to the expanded concept of “museum as forum”, taking into account educational, cultural and economic issues. This evolution was fuelled by a growth in museum attendance in Quebec and by the vibrant cultural scene in Montréal. In 2010-11, the museum had revenues of $28M, of which 59% was provided by public support, 25% by earned revenues and 16% by donations and sponsorships. The museum attracted 563 000 visitors, 87% of them from the Greater Montréal area, and this factor influenced significantly the MMFA strategic objectives:

  1. Enhance the institution’s reputation locally, ensuring that it is firmly rooted in the Montréal community, including reaching out to neglected groups (disadvantaged youth, cultural communities, etc.).
  2. Promote and strengthen Montrealers’ loyalty to the museum, through a significant increase in membership, in order to foster donations of art works to enrich the permanent collection.
  3. Ensure the Museum’s financial viability, by increasing self-generated resources and donations and, to a lesser extent, revenues from publications, boutiques and restaurants.
Otto Dix - Portrait of Hugo Simons

Otto Dix (1891-1969), Portrait of the Lawyer Hugo Simons, 1925, tempera and oil on plywood. The portrait – that has an incredible story – was acquired by the MMFA thanks to a collective effort rarely exerted for a single work of art. MMFA, purchase, grant from the Government of Canada under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, gifts of the Succession J.A. DeSève, Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Andrea Bronfman, Mr. Nahum Gelber and Dr. Sheila Gelber, Mrs. Phyllis Lambert, the Volunteer Association and the Junior Associates of the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Mrs. Louise L. Lamarre, Mr. Pierre Théberge, the Museum’s acquisition fund, and the Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest. Photo MMFA, Brian Merrett.

Based on an analysis of the production of three exhibitions, the authors identified a three-step decision process: (1) validate the relevance of the artistic and academic approach of an exhibition in light of the organization’s strategic vision, ensuring both export potential and local relevance; (2) mobilize key stakeholders to secure the content needed to constitute a significant body of work; and (3) ensure viability by mobilizing partners for joint funding. In this perspective, internationalization is as much a condition as a consequence of an institution’s ability to finance culturally ambitious exhibitions.

The article demonstrates that it is possible for medium-sized arts organizations, which operate in a community rich in cultural resources and committed to supporting the arts, to carve out a place for themselves. Although their tangible artistic resources may be more limited than those located in global cities, organizations like the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts can use their creative skills to develop innovative projects that reflect a sense of belonging to the community. Success depends on the extent to which an organization can rally stakeholders and mobilize the competencies and tangible/ intangible resources needed to secure both cultural content and financial resources. Through a series of innovative projects, these organizations can make a name for themselves and gain both local and international support and recognition.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 16, Number 1, Fall 2013.

MMIAM Graduate and Gallery Owner Showcases Quebec Artists to the World: In Conversation with Anne D’Amours McDonald

Anne D'Amours McDonald (Photo: Étienne L. Côté).

Anne D'Amours McDonald (Photo: Étienne L. Côté).Anne D’Amours McDonald graduated from the MMIAM programme’s third cohort in 2016. Prior to her studies, she completed Bachelor and Master degrees in Fine Art and worked as an arts manager for several art galleries in her hometown of Québec City. Following her MMIAM studies, Anne returned home and founded Galerie.a to develop an international network of artists and collectors for contemporary art from Quebec. Laura Adlers interviewed Anne recently to discuss her new business and becoming a cultural entrepreneur.


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

More and more museums are programming international projects, featuring international artists, or shared exhibitions between countries. In 2006, I was so impressed with the exhibition «Le Louvre à Québec» at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. I was shocked to realize that a giant work of art in marble could travel across the ocean for this amazing show and wanted to gain the knowledge and tools needed to work on these kinds of projects. I liked that the MMIAM programme covered a broad range of skills and subjects needed to be a better arts manager.

At the time, I was also very aware that in Quebec, we are very regionalized and we have very few exchanges with cultural organizations outside of our region and I really wanted to gain new knowledge in the programme and return to Québec City to develop new projects.

Tell us about your business and your primary responsibilities?

I run a gallery, but for me, it’s more than an exhibition space, it’s a platform to promote artists through a broad range of projects. I work with local Quebec artists, many are people with whom I have studied. My goal is to tell the story of their art in order to sell it, because when potential buyers learn about an individual’s work of art, they see the value and enjoy it more. I want to help these artists make a living by promoting their artwork and allowing them to continue making their art. At the moment, I am working with four artists, but in a year, I plan to be engaged with twelve.

Through my MMIAM studies, I developed new strategies for showcasing Quebec artists to international markets. Another MMIAM graduate, Yan Gu, has partnered with me and is showing my artists’ work to potential clients in Shanghai. I am now trying to duplicate this model with someone in Montréal who works with galleries and potential buyers in Mexico City and South America.

At the moment, I am doing a lot of market research, visiting the art fairs in Montréal, Toronto, Seattle, New York City, learning about what sells and what doesn’t, how other galleries market their artists and what their success rates are. The art fairs are good events to be a part of, as you can reach a targetted critical mass over these weekends and you can receive market development grants from the government to attend and exhibit. Exhibiting at these fairs is a major part of my business strategy at the moment.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

One of the reasons people become entrepreneurs is out of need, because when you graduate from such a unique programme as the MMIAM, you have very specialized knowledge and experience and, in my case, I was looking for a very specific role in a unique creative environment. I really needed to find my place here in Québec City, because I had no intention of moving elsewhere. I found that the easiest way for me to find my place and build the kind of project I had envisioned was to become an entrepreneur.

When and how did you start your business?

I actually wrote my first business plan for this gallery in 2012, which combined my two personalities and passions: my creative side of artist and curator, and my business side, the organizer, manager, salesperson. I had decided at that time that I wanted to run my own art gallery, but at the time the plan seemed too complicated and not feasible, so I paused it to gain experience and build confidence. I decided to complete my MFA and then completed the MMIAM programme.

In the spring of this year, I decided to revisit and rewrite my business plan, armed with new knowledge from my studies. The Montréal magazine Les Affaires organizes a pitch contest every year called “Launch a Start-up in Seven Days with $700”, and I entered and was a finalist. This exercise really motivated me to just go for it and launch my business.

Conference with Paolo Barata, President of the Venice Biennale (Photo: Alex Turrini)

Conference with Paolo Barata, President of the Venice Biennale (Photo: Alex Turrini).

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

I would have to say Milan, for the reason that it was the last campus. Milan was so different from Dallas. During my fine art studies and business planning, I always thought about what I could create, what new ideas I should be working on. I never stopped to think about heritage, preserving and restoring what we have. That was a big wake-up call for me in Milan, despite the fact that Québec City is also a UNESCO designated heritage city. I really enjoyed the site visits in Milan, many of which were related to heritage preservation. These were very unexpected and fascinating visits. I felt like I was discovering a new universe all over again after learning so much in Dallas, Montréal and, Bogotá.

In addition, I wrote my thesis about the Venice Biennale, and the SDA Bocconi faculty arranged for me to have a private meeting with the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Biennale as part of my research. We also had a site visit to the Biennale and met with the President. These connections would likely not have happened if I had not been in the MMIAM programme. The faculty helped me reach my thesis research goal in a very concrete way.

View of the Venice Biennale's Palazzo (photo: Anne D'Amours McDonald).

View of the Venice Biennale’s Palazzo (photo: Anne D’Amours McDonald).


Empowering Arts Leaders with High-Quality Data and Evidence-Based Resources: In Conversation with SMU DataArts Director Zannie Giraud Voss

Professor Zannie Voss presenting (Photo: Kim Leeson).

Professor Zannie Voss (Photo: Kim Leeson)Zannie Giraud Voss Ph.D. is Director of SMU DataArts as well as Chair and Professor of Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. She is also one of the co-creators of the MMIAM programme. Laura Adlers interviewed Professor Voss recently to discuss the evolution of the MMIAM programme and her new role as Director of SMU DataArts.

You are one of the co-chairs and co-creators of the MMIAM programme, now in its sixth year. How has the programme evolved since it was first launched?

The biggest evolution since launching is now having a fabulous alumni base – a very welcome addition to the programme!

We have learned over time how to ease the transition to new countries and how to help students be mindful that the ability to adapt to new cultures is an essential part of what they learn in the programme.  The course content has also evolved.  We communicate with students and our international advisory board about whether students are getting out of the programme what they need in order to be successful in their chosen careers, and we have made adjustments to meet those needs.

What is the focus of study for the MMIAM programme at Southern Methodist University?

The students begin the programme at SMU.  Our intial thought in designing curriculum was for each of the universities to provide students course offerings that reflect the strengths of their faculty and strengths of the unique aspects of each country’s way of producing/presenting/ exhibiting arts and culture.  Towards these ends, the focus of study at SMU is on comparative international cultural policy, international law and the arts, arts budgeting and nonprofit financial management, cultural economics and the international art market, and fundraising in the arts.

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

First, the arts market is international, so it makes sense to prepare those going into the profession for that reality.  The arts are borderless.  There are international tours in the performing arts.  Dance, music, plays, and opera are interpreted and performed outside their country of origin.  There are global distribution systems for films, books, and recorded music.  Works of art are exchanged by museums around the globe, and exhibitions travel internationally.  Those who want to work in this arena need to understand that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cultural lens on how work gets done.

Second, regardless of how well someone understands the ecosystem of arts and culture in their own country, there is always something to be learned by studying how the arts are produced, presented, valued, and consumed in other countries.  Diversity of perspectives helps us to assess the benefits of alternative models.  Good ideas can come from anywhere.

Professor Zannie Voss presenting (Photo: Kim Leeson).

Professor Zannie Voss presenting (Photo: Kim Leeson).


In August 2018, SMU announced a merger between the National Center for Arts Research and DataArts and the news that you are leading this exciting new organization. Can you tell us more about SMU DataArts and the work you and your team are doing?

SMU DataArts exists to empower arts and cultural leaders with high-quality data and evidence-based resources and insights that help them to overcome challenges and increase impact.  We collect data from arts and cultural organizations and link it to data on their communities.  Out of this, we generate insights and knowledge, and then personalize this knowledge to individual organizations through the creation of online tools. In essence, we are providing arts leaders more knowledge about their organizations out of their own data. We undertake this work to help the national field of arts and cultural organizations be increasingly essential, robust and sustainable contributors to their communities and to have more resources to direct to mission-related work.  Our intention is that by making the simple things simple, we can help a growing number of organizations make the hard things possible.

What are some of the notable trends you are seeing through your research of the U.S. cultural sector in recent years?

Arts and cultural organizations in the U.S. are facing headwinds. There is environmental uncertainty related to changes that affect tax-deductibility of contributions, regular threats to the elimination of federal arts funding, and changing consumer preferences that favor digital, on-demand consumption. Moreover, the organizations are largely cash-strapped and unprepared to weather another economic downturn, with working capital shrinking by 55% for the average organization between 2013 and 2016, and average attendance on the decline for more than half of the arts and cultural sectors. Arming those who lead these organizations with more facts, knowledge, and tools related to organizational health is essential for long-term sustainability.



Creating Brand Identity in Art Museums: A Case Study (Abridged)

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki

by Sofia Pusa and Liisa Uusitalo

Based on the experience of three modern and contemporary art museums in Helsinki, the authors discuss how to create brand identity in art museums. The combination of marketing and art has long been considered ill matched, according to the assumption that marketing will automatically degrade the inner value and distinctiveness of art and favour only the most popular and superficial. However, as shown by several studies on arts organizations, skillful marketing can contribute to cultural education and attract the interest of new audiences – in other words, upgrade the audience’s competence instead of downgrading art. Brand identity carries the museum’s purpose and can be evaluated on the following dimensions: product, person, symbolic and organization-related.

When the museum is perceived as a product, attention should be paid to both the core product (collections and exhibitions) and the augmented product (museum services, such as the museum shop or educational programs). When the museum wants to differentiate itself, it may create a brand personality through references to specific persons or user groups (artists, art enthusiasts, designers) with whom consumers may identify.  When the meanings associated with a brand become widely accepted, the brand can be said to represent something beyond itself: it becomes a symbol, something that embodies the visual imagery, a logo, a slogan, a metaphor or a meaningful heritage story. Finally, a museum brand may represent a whole organization, with its unique set of values, culture, behaviours, assets and skills, that delivers the museum experience to the customers.

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

According to the museum and marketing directors interviewed, the marketing role in museums consists often of promotion through traditional exhibition-based advertising. Museums use their websites and social media to expand their visibility due to their cost-effective and powerful nature. As well, the museums’ ability to advertise depends on their partnership arrangements, for example with television stations. Management of networks is perceived as an important part of a museum’s brand management by maintaining relationships with other cultural organizations, sponsors and financial partners.

By using new creative approaches, museums can strengthen their brand identity and gain visibility. Creative marketing can comprise cross-over events such as lectures, concerts, films, DJ evenings, and even skateboard design competitions. Creative marketing seems to be most efficient when it is built on the unique features of an ongoing exhibition and, at the same time, supports the museum’s brand identity.

In conclusion, the brand identity of a museum is based mainly on the scope and type of its collections and exhibitions. This suggests that museums act fairly autonomously in planning their core product. Exhibitions are meant to “surprise” visitors by providing art experiences thus far unknown to them. This proactive strategy is particularly true for museums of contemporary and modern art. The implications of this research are that museums could broaden their perspectives and, in their marketing activities, progress from exhibition-based promotion towards a more comprehensive brand-identity marketing.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 17, Number 1, Fall 2014.

Bringing International Experience Back to Bogotá’s Teatro Villa Mayor: In Conversation with General Manager Álvaro Martínez

Alvaro Martinez

Alvaro MartinezÁlvaro Martínez is a graduate of the MMIAM programme’s first cohort in 2014. Prior to his studies, he had worked for many years in arts management in Bogotá, primarily with the Ministry of Culture, developing arts education programmes and other related projects. He has always been an active volunteer in the Bogotá arts community. Laura Adlers interviewed Álvaro to learn about his new leadership position in his native country.


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

I met François Colbert through Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez at Universidad de los Andes, where I first learned of the MMIAM programme. I was intrigued by living and studying in different cities, the possibility of learning about different arts management models in different countries. I was very driven by the mix of academia and practical knowledge and bringing this all back to Colombia.

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

I am the General Manager of Teatro Villa Mayor, a small theatre in southern Bogotá built 20 years ago. It has always been an artists’ hub, mostly for emerging artists. It is a public house, but has never had an operational model for functioning professionally and in a sustainable, long-term way. It was built by the local city hall of one of the 20 localities of Bogotá and I work with them to run the theatre.  For the past year and a half, I have been developing a new operational model for the theatre, upgrading the technical and structural framework and developing programming for the local community. I am in effect taking an artists’ centre and working to establish theatre and dance companies in residence here.

Teatro Villa Mayor (photo Johanna Abril)

Teatro Villa Mayor (photo Johanna Abril).

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

The most important thing was the site visits, the experience of meeting with the managers of so many arts organizations in the different cities.  I learned so much from those experiences and got a lot of insight to bring back to Bogotá.  The programme itself teaches a wide range of courses needed in arts management, including strategic planning, marketing, finance and accounting, research.  I took something from all of the courses and apply most of it on a regular basis.

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

I don’t know if you can separate the personal from the professional. You have to adapt to different cultures and management models, different mindsets and different ways of working styles and lifestyles. This adaptability is an invaluable skill both personally and professionally.

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

Let me be diplomatic and say each place had special qualities. I liked them all and I took something special away from each. Actually, being from Bogotá, I found it very interesting to return with the cohort to my city, having lived and studied in Dallas and Montreal at that point. It was interesting to see how my colleagues reacted and what they noticed about Bogotá. They were visiting my home and viewing it as a case study, which was very interesting to experience. For me, it was like I was looking at my city with different eyes, through the international lens, with this new international experience and knowledge, and this was invaluable.

Street Art Tour in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

Street Art Tour in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers).

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

I returned home with lots of new ideas and perspectives and I now reflect on arts management practices with new eyes. I will try something new, see how it goes, change something if it needs changing, reflect again to see if things are working better, and so on.  Of  course, I have a lot of insight from my studies and have a lot of material to refer to and apply to what I am doing now.

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

In Colombia, the relationship between culture and social development has always been very important. This is something we need to acknowledge and keep supporting in many ways. But these are days in which we also have to pay attention to all the dimensions of the relationship between culture and economic development. We still have a lot of work to do to create powerful business models and ways of doing things that will help the cultural economy become stronger, more sustainable and meaningful. This can only be addressed by arts managers working with communities, artists and governments to help create and improve these business models, which is something I am starting to do at the theatre.

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

It is a very interesting time in Bogotá and Colombia right now. I see a lot of emerging performing artists creating companies with new and innovative programming, in all performing arts, but especially in music. We should really be paying attention to what is happening with the music scene in Colombia.  The same pertains to theatre and dance. Emerging and experienced artists are more willing to take risks and try new things, including getting involved with other sectors which are not traditionally associated with the arts. I see such opportunities with the development of new cultural venues for presenting the thriving performing arts scene. There are also beautiful opportunities to help social projects working with culture and arts education. Savvy arts managers are needed in some underserved regions to help implement these kinds of programmes.

MMIAM 2013-2014 (archival photo)

MMIAM 2013-2014 (archival photo).

Arts Management and the Creation of Social Values: Exploring Bogotá with Professor Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez

Street Art in Bogota (photo Laura Adlers)

Jaime Ruiz-GutiérrezProfessor Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez is Associate Professor of the Faculty of Administration at the Universidad de los Andes, where he teaches Culture Management. He has a PhD in Mathematics applied to Social Sciences and has conducted extensive research of arts and culture organizations using a rigorous approach based on numbers, indexes and indicators. Professor Ruiz-Gutiérrez is the coordinator of the campus abroad programme in Bogotá, Colombia. Laura Adlers interviewed him to learn more about the cultural sector in Bogotá and what MMIAM students experience during their visit.

The MMIAM students visit Bogotá at the end of their term in Montréal before starting the final phase of study in Milan. You are the architect of the Bogotá programme, which has evolved over the last five years.  What do the students experience during their visit?

First of all, I try to show the students experiences which demonstrate the high impact that arts management has on our society in terms of the creation of social and cultural values, as opposed to focussing on economic impact. Most of the cultural activities in our communities demonstrate a change of priorities: first, how arts management generates social value and then, how it generates economic value. In the case of Colombia, our communities and our arts managers have learned a lot from concrete experiences which have taken place in our country over many years, and these experiences determine management priorities.

Street Art in Bogota (photo Laura Adlers)

Street Art in Bogota (photo Laura Adlers).

Another element that I share with the students is the importance of the social environment and its impact on management processes. In Colombia, the majority of initiatives and management processes developed by arts and culture organizations have mostly been led by the private sector or individual efforts. The Colombian state, despite having developed a cultural policy with the objective of promoting the cultural sector, has scarce resources and therefore culture is not considered a priority compared with other social sectors such as health, education, or security.

These individuals and the communities leading cultural initiatives develop strategies that are sometimes quite creative, to maintain and strengthen their artistic and cultural activities.  In Colombia, for example, there are many popular festivals in many different communities, some of which have existed since as far back as the 19th century. These festivals have grown – in size, budget and quality of programming – with minimal support from the state. These artistic and cultural experiences are very interesting as research subjects. It’s valuable to know the types of strategies that helped develop these communities and the sustainibility of these popular festivals to the point that they have become well known in their regions, with some of them developing into real enterprises.

Another experiential element that speaks to Colombian character is the importance of social relationships in daily life. This element makes it very easy for the students to have spontaneous conversations with the many people the students meet during their visit.

Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Mónica Muñoz and François Colbert in Bogota (photo Laura Adlers).

Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Mónica Muñoz and François Colbert in Bogota (photo Laura Adlers).

There have been several students from Colombia in the MMIAM program. Why do you think the specific study of international arts management is important for the profession and for the cultural sector in your country?

In Colombia and in Latin America in general, the management of arts and cultural projects and organizations has traditionally been managed in an intuitive way, by artists or people close to the sector. However, cultural activity has been gaining considerable importance in many qualitative and quantitative dimensions, requiring a professionalization of the sector and its management processes.

Additionally, the Colombian Constitution was changed in 1991; the previous one was written in 1886. In this new constitution, Colombia is defined as a multicultural and multiethnic society. This important change made the concept of culture a central element of the definition of the Colombian nationality. This led to the implementation of the Culture Law in 1997 and gave birth to the Ministry of Culture, the National System of Culture and the proposition of a good number of cultural policies. Under this new constitution, culture is conceived not only as a right, but as a resource requiring rigorous management processes.

National Library in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

National Library in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers).

I believe that the international perspective of MMIAM is fundamental. The programme provides the knowledge of other arts management practices in different countries. These different perspectives  contribute to the restructuring and strengthening of the cultural sector in Colombia. This international vision also allows students to compare the development of our arts organizations to a globalized world. At the same time, our own cultural expression contributes to enrich the cultural sector on an international level.

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

Arts management has been led and developed by countries with advanced economies. Their educational and research institutions have established the principles of what we know as arts management. However, arts management activities have always been happening in Colombia, just intuitively, and they have only recently become academic topics, at the university level.

I believe the experience of arts management in Latin America can make contributions to the field in the following ways: the first one is, as I mentioned earlier, the exploration of arts management as a source of value creation from various non-economical perspectives. These are valuable perspectives of dual societies, as with most of the Latin American countries. The second one is related to the concept of “cultural responsibility”, corresponding with the establishment of cultural or artistic projects organized in and for vulnerable communities.

An example of this would be the development of a project for a vulnerable community in Bogotá which would create economic value and help provide for the community’s basic needs. In some cases, these projects generate conflict with the cultural structure of the community. For example, a change of traditional roles in the families, or some form of non-traditional work. In general, if projects do not take into account the cultural elements of the community, they will often not succeed.

François Colbert, Philip Grant and I have published an article “Arts Management in Developing Countries: A Latin American Perspective,” International Journal of Arts Management, Special Edition Latin America, Printemps 2016, p. 6-17, in which we address these issues.

Many alumni of the MMIAM program say that their time in Bogotá left the most profound impression about the relationship between culture and politics and the power of culture to heal a nation.  Can you comment on this?

The historical evolution of Colombia and the present-day situation have reaffirmed the enormous importance that art and culture have in the country, as a strategy for the cohesion and integration of society, after a good number of years of conflict and violence. There are many projects and experiences, some more successful than others, which have been developed from this perspective. Experiences in terms of music, visual, scenic, and plastic arts, etc. have been managed in a creative way with the communities most affected by the conflict, and with the population in general. In this sense, academia has a very important mission in terms of collecting, analyzing and understanding these experiences in order to achieve a greater impact on our society.

Los Andes University (photo Laura Adlers)

Los Andes University (photo Laura Adlers).

Arts Management in Developing Countries: A Latin American Perspective (Abridged)

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

by Jaime Ruiz-Gutiérrez, Philip Stanley Grant, François Colbert

Mainstream academia has focused on Arts Management in developed countries. Therefore, shaped by the different artistic, cultural and social contexts in developing economies, this research proposes a new model to help understand Arts Management in Latin America.

In Latin America, a lot of arts and culture organizations can rely only on their own cultural identity as a source of value creation. This is the case for music and other manifestations of social identity, such as work, social relations, popular representations, and heritage — all of which are culturally rooted and fulfill an indispensable economic function for the community.

In most artistic experiences, the “social contributions” (Sommer, 2006) which have been produced through intuitive and spontaneous management processes are of great importance and impact for their respective communities. These processes, in which social value is created, require, in many cases, a precondition for the creation of economic value. At a community level, three different types of impact can be identified: 1) the construction of social capital; 2) the creation of identity; and 3) the improvement of image and status.

This article presents three cases that, without being exhaustive, show the distinctive elements of the proposed arts management model for Latin American countries.

First, the three cases share the fact that they are bottom-up processes and, to a large extent, it is the communities that are being managed that guide and determine the management processes’ evolution and development. These processes are participative and conflictive, involving a trial and error strategy that is another distinctive element. This practice, in turn, gives way to a process of organisational learning, an administrative skill developed in order to institutionalise and integrate these processes in their social dynamic.

A high percentage of the success of these processes is determined by the social value “prompted” in the respective communities, in complex circumstances of unmet basic needs. The communities’ environment, based on “forced autonomy”, pressured them to find their own solutions. The above implies the development of competitive advantages, based on their characteristics as social groups, which mould their lifestyles.

Finally, the processes achieve the management goal which is the institutionalisation of the given promoted activity whereby art and culture are the instruments used to promote the legitimacy required to achieve such institutionalisation. In the three cases, the activities described became institutional reference points in their specific contexts.

A Latin American Perspective - Proposed Model

A Latin American Perspective – Proposed Model

Based on the identification of the arts as a factor of value creation, it is necessary to systematise the different management processes which made possible the design, production and distribution of the goods and services. The perspective described in this paper is experiential and community-based, with important impacts on the respective society. These intuitive management processes are aimed primarily at the satisfaction of urgent socioeconomic needs and the communities’ skills are the basic elements of these cultural manifestations.

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers)

National Centre for Historical Memory in Bogotá (photo Laura Adlers), an example that could illustrate one of the article’s three cases: “Civic Culture: Bogotá and its transformation”.

Read the full article in the International Journal of Arts Management, Special Edition – Latin America – Spring 2016.

Leading an Exciting New Initiative for the MMIAM Program in India and China: In Conversation with MMIAM Professor Andrea Rurale

Professor Andrea Rurale with the program coordinator in SMU Melissa Keene, Professors Alex Turrini, François Colbert and James Hart, and the students of the MMIAM's 6th cohort.

Professor Andrea Rurale (Photo: personal archives)Andrea Rurale is Director of the Master in Arts Management and Administration (MAMA) program and Professor of Marketing and Heritage Management at SDA Bocconi in Milan. He is also the Regional President of FAI Lombardia (The National Trust for Italy) and is President of the Monteverdi Conservatory in Cremona. Laura Adlers interviewed Professor Rurale recently to find out more about projects he is passionate about and recent developments in the MMIAM program.


SDA Bocconi in Milan is the third phase of the MMIAM program, from the end of April until the beginning of July. In addition to the study program in Milan, you are leading an exciting new initiative with the next cohort. Can you tell us more about the plans for phase three in 2019?

Yes, it is very exciting! There will now be the possibility of exploring two more countries, starting with the 2018-2019 cohort. Instead of coming directly to Milan for the third phase of the MMIAM program, the students will join the International Program in Arts Management (IPAM) which SDA Bocconi created at its campus in Mumbai. We have developed a new international program in arts management which consists of approximately  ten days in Mumbai, ten days in Delhi, ten days in Beijing and ten days in Milan, with additional tours to other Italian cities. The course in consulting management will be taught in Mumbai, the performing arts management course will be taught in Delhi, and heritage management will be taught in Milan. The students will visit many cultural organizations while they are in India, China and Italy, as they do in Colombia.

Group picture of the MMIAM's 6th cohort and some professors

Professor Andrea Rurale with the program coordinator in SMU Melissa Keene, Professors Alex Turrini, François Colbert and James Hart, and the students of the MMIAM’s 6th cohort (Photo: personal archives).

The mutual cooperation with SMU in Dallas, HEC Montréal and SDA Bocconi is very strong, which is why we are also able to bring the MMIAM program to Mumbai. The idea is to explore the fields of performing arts (festivals, theatres) and heritage (museums, archeological sites, monuments, temples) in the Indian system, but with a deep outlook to the European and Italian system. When we will be in Delhi, for example, we will conduct our courses at the Italian Institute of Culture in the compound of the Italian Embassy. Students will learn about theoretical and practical approaches to arts management by visiting museums, art galleries, festivals and other institutions in Mumbai and Delhi which are important for the promotion of the arts in India.

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

An international perspective is very important when we study arts management, mainly because each country has its peculiarities which no one would understand without a deeper experience. It is very important for arts managers to be open to the international market as a whole, beyond the cultural sector, to understand how cultural institutions function in different countries, in their economies, in their societies. It is also important, from a curatorial perspective, to understand the current trends in different parts of the world, what is working and what is not working, how art is treated in China, Russia, the US and New Zealand, for example.

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

For sure there are windows opening to the international community. There are new directors of museums that are trying to manage cultural institutions with all of the Italian constraints. On the one hand, the Italian public system is so stuck in bureaucracy that even directors coming from the US or Germany with international perspectives are not able to survive the bureaucracy of the Italian cultural and public institution. On the other hand, everyone is talking about this now, how we should be approaching cultural products, how we should convey the cultural message to the people, the importance of culture in the Italian system, the fact that it is a primary need for Italians to enjoy art and culture and therefore the necessity for a strong, well-run cultural sector is very important and urgent.  In response to this, in Italy we now have the new “super-directors” who run these institutions, which is a new concept and which is proving very successful in bringing the importance of Italian culture to the people. (Ed. note: In 2015, the Italian minister of culture announced 20 museum directors who were to become “super-directors” of some of Italy’s most important institutions and heritage sites, and were granted full financial autonomy.)

You are also the Regional President of FAI Lombardia (The National Trust for Italy). Can you explain what the foundation does and the kinds of projects you are currently working on?

FAI represents an important pillar in Italian heritage preservation since it was founded in 1975, with the goal of attracting the private sector to support the restoration of heritage sites and opening them to the public for private events. These sites would otherwise be abandoned and fall into disrepair.  FAI restores heritage properties which have been bequeathed to them or which have been supported by private donations. These are most often private homes. We study the history of the properties and convey their stories and the spirit of the properties to the public. These stories are important, not only from the artistic point of view, but because they tell the story of the Italian bourgeoisie that lived in Milan in the 1920s and 1930s. FAI operates on a budget of 28 million Euro, and owns 53 properties, 30 of those are open to the public, many are currently being restored.

Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan (Photo: F. Clerici).

Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan (Photo: F. Clerici – © FAI – Fondo Ambiente Italiano).

Tell us more about the Monteverdi Conservatory in Cremona.

Cremona is famous for its importance as a city where violins have been made for centuries. Violin-making has been recognized as an art which must be protected under UNESCO’s intangible heritage designation. As the President of the Board, I meet with many people who want to study music in Cremona, because of this rich history. It is very interesting, because I experience in a very tangible way the social and cultural impact of music on the Italian community. Nowadays, Cremona is investing a lot in the promotion of music and, thanks to this, there is an increase in visitors coming to spend time in the city, investing in knowledge about music and culture.

MMIAM Graduate Amanda Vojvodin-Dargenio Launches Career in the Fashion Industry in Milan

Amanda Vojvodin (Photo: Lively Creative Co.)

Amanda Vojvodin (Photo: Lively Creative Co.)Amanda Vojvodin-Dargenio graduated from the second cohort of the MMIAM program in 2015. She had recently completed undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa in theatre and arts management, and wanted to broaden her knowledge of arts management on an international scale in pursuit of a career in the fashion industry. She is now working in Milan as the Events and Marketing Manager at Louisiane HCP Group, a branch of Hermès International. In a recent interview with the Canadian native, we discussed her MMIAM experience and her new career in Milan.


What are your primary responsibilities as Events and Marketing Manager at Louisiane?

At Louisiane we sell leather to the fashion industry, so I attend four international fairs per year, twice in Milan and twice in Paris. I also manage client events in various cities in Italy, in addition to overseeing social media and marketing campaigns. I speak Italian and French all day long!

Amanda at a work event she was managing.

Amanda at a work event she was managing (Photo: personal archives).

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

Definitely all of the marketing courses from HEC Montréal, which I use every day. The fact that I studied at SDA Bocconi is a big plus for me here in Italy. I also tap into what I learned in JoLynne Jensen’s fundraising course in Dallas regularly, since this is a big part of event planning.

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

I certainly gained a broader perspective of what working in the arts means in each of the four countries..  Canada is very bureaucratic. In Italy, it is more art for art’s sake and just making things happen because we serve the art.

The international cohort made it very interesting and at times more challenging, as we sometimes had different work ethics, different ideas of time management, etc and we had to make it work somehow, so this was a good lesson for the real world and we learned a lot from each other. In the real work world, great teams need different dynamics with different skills and approaches in order to get great results.

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

Dallas!  I really loved it there. Dallas was such an unexpected experience and it was the first campus in our study year.  I would go back for a work contract in a heartbeat.  It was such an interesting place, so different from Canada.

MMIAM 2nd Cohort in front of Dallas AT&T Performing Arts Centre

MMIAM 2nd Cohort in front of Dallas AT&T Performing Arts Centre (Photo: personal archives).

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

Culturally, I think Italy is becoming more international.  More and more I see Italian cultural organizations adopting American business structures and methods of administration.

What kinds of innovative developments are happening in the fashion industry right now that are worth checking out?

Google has a new virtual fashion museum – “We Wear Culture” which was developed in collaboration with many of the great museums and fashion houses. It brings the world of fashion to people everywhere.  It is an invaluable resource for people working in or interested in the fashion industry.

You entered the MMIAM program with the goal of working in the fashion industry, which was an unconventional approach compared to many other people who apply to the program.  What would you like to share with other potential candidates who are wondering if this is the right program for them?

I think it is important for potential candidates to know that the program isn’t just for those who are interested in working in arts management in the not for profit sector. Much of the course content is geared towards this sector, with some courses focussing more on for profit cultural industries.  I came into the program always knowing I wanted to work in the fashion industry, which is increasingly recognized as a cultural industry. I was still able to focus many of my course projects and assignments on the fashion industry and my career goals.  I use the knowledge I gained in the MMIAM program every day, particularly in marketing and fundraising, and the analytical skills and international experience are invaluable to the work I am doing now.


Board Composition and Organizational Performance in the Cultural Sector: The Case of Italian Opera Houses (Abridged)

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

by Paola Dubini and Alberto Monti

The most significant event of opera houses in Italy is the reform of 1996, transforming opera houses from government bodies into foundations with boards of directors, budget autonomy, and responsibility for hiring and firing. As a consequence of the reform, the general manager is appointed by the board rather than by the ministry and the local mayor serves as president of the board. Additionally, private contributions to the theatre’s endowment are set at a minimum of 12%. In Italian opera houses, the size, representation and role of the board are defined by law; therefore, the degree of freedom left to different stakeholders in the composition of the board relies very much on the personal characteristics of each board member.

In this article, we address the issue of sustainability of Italian opera houses, by focusing on the relationship between board composition and performance, on the assumption that a functioning board is instrumental to engaging stakeholders and donors in a mutual reputation-building exercise as it addresses issues emerging from outside the organization and affecting its reputation. In order to do this, we identify the following roles within the board of directors: artists, controllers, cultural managers, influential people and other specialists. Our research is based on the analysis of 14 Italian Lyric and Symphonic Foundations, between 2001 and 2012.

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

Teatro alla Scala (Photo: Frances Craven).

Our findings suggest that boards do matter and that their composition affects the ability of opera houses to reach out to different categories of revenue provider. For instance, controllers and influential people both affect theatres’ global performance and earned income. We found no effect of the proportion of influential people on both public and private income, although we did find a relationship between influential people and public income.

Similarly, we hypothesized that cultural managers and other specialists influence earned income, since they might have the competencies necessary to help theatres maximize this type of revenue. This hypothesis was not confirmed.

An interesting result concerns the proportion of artistic profiles on boards of directors in explaining both public and private funding. In line with expectations, the presence of those with artistic profiles on the board was negatively correlated to private funding.

Yet our results also indicate a non-significant effect of a high proportion of board members with an artistic background on public financing, although artistic quality is a specific driver of public funding in Italian opera houses.

One of our findings concerns the relationship between competence diversity among board members and within the board overall. Although all board functions are performed at the group level, specialization at the individual level could matter. Different board members with different profiles will contribute to board activities in different ways. Board members might be individually diverse – each one having several non-mutually exclusive profiles – while at the aggregate level the board might have a degree of homogeneity in terms of profiles represented. Our results indicate that skill diversity in individual board members and at the board level impacts performance in different ways.

Finally, in the case of earned income, the gross domestic product at a regional level positively and significantly affects private funds, although the magnitude is small (€247). Additionally, the presence of new members on the board seems to strongly and positively affect theatres’ ability to raise private funds. New members increase theatres’ ability to attract private funds by approximately €182,000.

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


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


Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy.

9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW

© Jane Barlow 2016 {all rights reserved}
m: 07870 152324
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.


“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.


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.


“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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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?


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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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



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.


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!


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.


“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.


“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



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.


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.


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)


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?


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.


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.


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.

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

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



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.


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,


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.


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



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.


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)


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.


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.


Study 2: Contemporary Web Site


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.


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



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.


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

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

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

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


The MMIAM’s second cohort in Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


by Ruth Rentschler, Kerrie Bridson, and Jody Evans


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

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

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

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

Branding in a Competitive Landscape

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

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

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

Brand Orientation

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Pin Lim.

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

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

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

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Innovation and International Best Practices Key to Success of Australian Orchestras

Sophie Galaise (photo: Daniel Aulsebrook)

Sophie Galaise, who is also a member of the MMIAM International Advisory Committee, joined the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as its first female Managing Director in April 2016. She is renowned for her extensive experience working with orchestras, not only at the executive level, but also as a professional musician and musicologist.  Laura Adlers met with Sophie via Skype to discuss the business of managing professional orchestras in different parts of the world.

Does being a professional musician make you a better arts leader or do you think one can be a good arts leader without the artistic background?

Well, I am in the category of artist who became an arts manager, and I believe it helps, it gives you an advantage, because you really know the product, you can have more in-depth conversations and I believe, yes, you can be a fantastic manager without being a musician, but you will always have to work harder to gain a full understanding of the product.

For instance, your Music Director comes to you and says he wants to do the Mahler 8th Symphony next year. You would need to know that the Mahler 8th nickname is the ‘Symphony of a thousand’ (1000 musicians and singers), so you could expect a very large budget for the production.  If you don’t know that, you may have a conversation where you say, no problem, it is just one more symphony and you end up having a big surprise. I have seen interesting situations in the past where managers had a big surprise, because they didn’t have that knowledge. I suppose I am on the side that believes it is better to be knowledgeable as a professional musician working as an arts manager.  Finally, I still believe you can be a great manager without being a professional musician, but being a professional musician gives you an extra advantage.

Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Peter Tarasiuk.

Sir Andrew Davis conducting the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Peter Tarasiuk.

You are a professional musician who transitioned to a career as an internationally-recognized arts leader and have held leadership positions in Europe, Canada and Australia.  Are there notable differences in the practice of arts management between countries?

Many aspects of managing orchestras around the world are pretty similar. There is one big difference, however. In North America, there is a stronger focus on fundraising, because, for example, in the United States, public funding is so low that it is absolutely necessary to fundraise. Around the world, most orchestras can count on revenue sources from public funding. Everyone relies on earned revenue (subscription, ticket sales, hires) and private revenue (donations, corporate partnerships). The vast majority of orchestras from around the world rely on public funding, private and earned revenues. Everyone is trying to achieve balanced ratios (1/3, 1/3, 1/3).   I have yet to see an orchestra in a country that can do without public funding. Orchestras are helping with cultural diplomacy, showcasing new works, engaging with communities, etc. I believe they are playing an important role in the ecology of the arts.

Fixed costs are the biggest expense in any orchestra’s budget, most notably salaries for all of the musicians and staff.  On average, musicians outnumber staff. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is an exception, with 150 staff and 100 musicians. It is important to note that 1/3 of the administrative staff are in fundraising and development. They are a huge fundraising machine! This is a new tendency in the United States, but I am not sure this will be the model moving forward.  At this point it is the US reality.

In Australia, professional orchestras rely on the three types of revenue. Federal and state funding makes for most of the public funding. They are starting to fundraise and are looking to increase donations more than in the past, but this is relatively new. Historically, the six professional state orchestras were part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. They demerged about twenty years ago and became independent not-for-profit organizations. They are quite new to fundraising, but they are also very keen and very capable.

The big difference between Australia and Canada in terms of orchestras is that in Australia, the government decided to really focus on having one professional orchestra per state and fund them appropriately. This is why there are only six professional orchestras in Australia.  In Canada, a much larger group is funded, including major orchestras, regional orchestras, chamber orchestras, and so forth.

Only 28 major performing arts organizations are actually recognized and funded as “major” in Australia. This includes dance, theatre, opera, orchestras and one circus company. They are funded by a Commonwealth Fund administered by the Australian Council for the Arts.  It is a very finite number responding to very specific criteria that are approved for funding. Once your performing arts organization has been recognized as such, you must comply and meet these criteria or risk losing your funding.  In Canada, it is a different and broader approach.

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

Australians are aware that they are very far from the rest of the world, here down under. It is a relatively young country. Australians are keen on best practices. They follow what is happening in other countries, particularly in the United Kingdom. They feel a close historical association to England and European countries.  Every year, the association of Australian Orchestras invite arts leaders from international orchestras to come to Australia. We regularly get major orchestras to tour Australia. When they do, we meet with management to learn about their business models and best practices.  In my opinion, there is a burning desire to accomplish great things, perhaps because Australia is a relatively young country.  They are not afraid to innovate, and ideas seem to evolve faster than in Canada, for example.  They are very attuned to what is happening in other parts of the world, and this perhaps gives them the confidence and drives them to take calculated risks.  Australians are very positive people and the country has not seen a recession in over 25 years, so there is a distinct trend towards innovation and bold new ideas.

Personal and professional transformation lead MMIAM graduate to new career path in Hawaii

In addition to his work at the theatre, John stays active creatively as an independent filmmaker. Check out his latest work at facebook.com/islethemovie

jw-headshot-john-wells-smJohn Wells was an arts educator at a high school in Los Angeles, and a freelance script supervisor at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, California before joining the second cohort of the MMIAM program.  He graduated in 2015 and is now the Operations Coordinator at the Kennedy Theatre at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in addition to working as an independent filmmaker.  As someone coming from a teaching background, why was he drawn to this graduate program? Laura Adlers interviewed him via Skype at his new home in Hawaii to learn more about his experience with the program and his new career path.

As someone coming from a teaching background, why were you drawn to this graduate program?

I had always been passionate about the arts, but wanted to develop a solid foundation in arts management which would allow me to help others in achieving their artistic goals.  This, combined with an incessant desire to travel and explore different cultures, seemed like a great fit for me to expand my horizons and gain valuable experience.

What aspect(s) of the program were the most valuable to you for your career and why?

There was a turning point for me – professionally and personally – in Montreal. Our final project for Wendy Reid’s class Leadership in the Context of Cultural Organizations involved going out into the field and conducting interviews with organizations that we were most interested in. The initiative that this project required was crucial because it got us talking to the people we envisioned ourselves working with one day. When you’re in a classroom for most of the year, you don’t really get experiential learning opportunities like this. So the whole process was a breath of fresh air, and it catalyzed a networking growth spurt for me, for lack of better words.

We ended up taking a group trip to Toronto where I interviewed more organizations, and it really got me feeling comfortable walking into rooms and talking about the work that’s being done in the arts. I also landed an internship during this time (outside the program), and I credit that largely to the confidence that came from putting myself out there, failing, and doing it again and again.

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

In many ways, I learned more from my classmates than I did from the classroom materials. And that’s not a knock on the instructors, it’s just that when you live and work so intimately with the same group of people for a year, you forge relationships that help you discover things about yourself and other cultures.

It’s not a walk in the park, though. Sometimes we like to think that we live in a utopian, globalized world where we’re all connected and harmonious. The truth is that engaging with other cultures and developing relationships takes sensitivity, tact, and hard work to make things happen. We’re all human, and what bonded us in this program was our common mission to enliven the arts, innovate in business, and inspire for the good.

In addition to his work at the theatre, John stays active creatively as an independent filmmaker. Check out his latest work at facebook.com/islethemovie

In addition to his work at the theatre, John stays active creatively as an independent filmmaker. Check out his latest work at facebook.com/islethemovie

Which campus was the most memorable for you and why?

The stay in Italy was such an invaluable experience for me on every level. I interned at the Milano Film Festival, and the experience of being immersed in a completely different culture was at first pretty alienating. But as I began to show through my work how much I cared about the mission of the organization, I began to forge relationships and share in the beauty of the festival.

I don’t mean to get metaphysical or anything, but there’s a certain feeling you get when you’re halfway across the world, as an American interning at a film festival in Milan (they jokingly called me their “illegal alien”), bonding with a Russian co-worker while eating Italian food at a Chinese restaurant. When you find those moments, where you can experience genuine connections with people over something as banal as a bowl of spaghetti, you realize there’s a universality there you may have never seen before. I’m most grateful for this.

The Kennedy Theatre at the University of Hawaii at Manoa

The Impact of Service Elements on the Artistic Experience: The Case of Classical Music Concerts (Abridged)


By Antonella Carù, Bernard Cova

A trend in the field of marketing is to analyze consumers’ growing preference for being immersed in a thematic setting instead of being offered a finished product.[1] [2] [3] [4]

Ivars Taurins as Herr Handel in Tafelmusik's Sing-Along Messiah. Photo: Gary Beechey

Ivars Taurins as Herr Handel in Tafelmusik’s Sing-Along Messiah. Photo: Gary Beechey

Above and beyond this particular concept, today’s marketing is being driven by a host of new theoretical constructs ranging from experiential marketing[5] [6] to the idea that immersion can be used as a way of designing consumers’ extraordinary experiences.[7] If there is one type of consumer experience where the immersion construct is (and has long been) frequently used, it is the artistic one.[8] In the ideal, this type of experience is akin to diving into the deep end of a pool – it is a total immersion that will transform the individual. In other words, the artistic experience belongs to the category of so-called aesthetic experiences[9] [10] and is a fundamentally embodied one.[11] But as demonstrated so impressively by researchers focusing on the artistic experience[12] [13] and on the appropriation work that must be undertaken[14] [15], immersion can be difficult to achieve – particularly in the case of avant-garde or classical works that from the outset establish a certain distance from the general public, especially if presented within the confines of a designated environment such as a concert hall.

The purpose of the study is to identify those service elements that influence an individual consumer’s immersion in an arts experience.

The “appropriation of space – be it public or private – is tantamount to acting on something that exists outside of yourself, the goal being to make it your own and to recognize your own position within this space”.[16]

Such an approach suggests that consumers summon up certain competencies largely because they wish to become the main builders and co-creators of a given artistic experience[17] and do so by developing a multidimensional (i.e., not only physical but also mental, emotional and spiritual) “home.” Thus, immersion exists when the consumer is able to enact the artistic experience by means of so-called appropriation methods or operations that will allow him/her to minimize or avoid distancing.research-fig1

This metaphorical approach allows us to re-situate the main space-appropriation operations within a theoretical framework capable of accounting for the particular type of appropriation that is at stake in a given artistic experience. The framework shown in Figure 1 can be explained in this way:

Nesting. The individual feels at home because s/he isolates a part of the particular artistic experience, a part that is familiar to him/her because of his/her accumulated experience and foothold in it. The individual will often find comfort in sticking to a single track, instrument or piece of art that s/he tries to control by pushing aside anything else that crops up in the experiential framework.

Investigating. Starting from the nest that has been built in this fashion, the individual explores new elements in order to develop her/his points of anchorage and control (signposts) – for example, by looking through a CD for songs s/he already knows, listening to them again and then listening to the tracks just before or just after them; this enhances knowledge of the context of the particular artistic experience whilst progressively extending one’s territory.

Stamping. The individual attributes a specific meaning to an artistic experience or to a portion of it. This will not be the meaning commonly ascribed to the experience but a personal one, built on the foundations of the individual’s own referents, history and so on. For example, someone invited to a concert by a friend might feel that “for me this is not an 18th-century classical music concert but Toni’s concert, since it was she who invited me to it.” Here, the individual uses creativity to play around with the experience’s context subjectively, whilst imbuing it with his/her own personal meaning.

The consumer is now in a position to access the artistic experience, in whole or in part, thereby becoming immersed.

It should be noted that the processes used to access an experience and/or to apprehend the role of antecedents may diverge due to the varying intensity of the different artistic experiences. Visiting a museum, listening to a concert and watching a film are different processes, so the concepts being analyzed can be applied in various ways. In fact, in each of these experiences the individual’s level of participation will vary; it can be active or passive, and thus have a different effect. One’s involvement/participation will vary as well; it can be physical, intellectual or both.[18] Control over the experience will also vary – for example, in terms of the timing of the event – or else there exists the possibility that only some of the stimuli to which one is being submitted will be selected.

Analysis revealed that the three operations making up the appropriation cycle of an artistic experience can be broken into sub-operations that enrich the overall model. In particular, nesting appears to present a wide range of sensations linked to the search for anchors, both before and during a performance. For the investigating operation, all reports reveal a path lying somewhere between the description of events and the discovery of something. Finally, two activities typified stamping: the ascribing of significance to elements in the experience, and the forming of impressions about the experience itself.


Twelve years later, this theory is more relevant today than ever before, and can be applied to many cultural settings. The full article can be downloaded from the International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 7, Number 2 – Winter 2005


[1] Firat, A.F., and N. Dholakia. 1998. Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theaters of Consumption. London: Routledge.

[2] Firat, A.F., N. Dholakia and A. Venkatesh. 1995. “Marketing in a Postmodern World.” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 29, no 1, p. 40-56.

[3] Firat, A.F., and C.J. Shultz. 1997. “From Segmentation to Fragmentation: Markets and Marketing Strategy in a Postmodern Era.” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31, no 3/4, p. 187-207.

[4] Goulding, C., A. Shankar and R. Elliott. 2002. “Working Weeks, Rave Weekends: Identity Fragmentation and the Emergence of New Communities.” Consumption, Markets and Culture, Vol. 5, no 4, p. 261-284.

[5] Pine, B.J., and J.H. Gilmore. 1999. The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.

[6] Schmitt, B.H. 1999. Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to SENSE, FEEL, THINK, ACT and RELATE to Your Company and Brands. New York: Free Press.

[7] Arnould, E., L. Price and G. Zinkhan. 2002. Consumers. New York: McGraw-Hill.

[8] Duhaime, C., A. Joy and C. Ross. 1995. “Learning to ‘See’: A Folk Phenomenology of the Consumption of Contemporary Canadian Art.” In Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior: An Anthropological Sourcebook, J.F. Sherry, ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, p. 351-398.

[9] Csikszentmihalyi, M., and R.E. Robinson. 1990. The Art of Seeing. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.

[10] Denzin, N.K. 1992. Symbolic Interactionism and Cultural Studies: The Politics of Interpretation. Cambridge: Blackwell.

[11] Joy, A., and J.R. Sherry. 2003. “Speaking of Art as Embodied Imagination: A Multi-sensory Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 30, September, p. 259-282.

[12] Spranzi, A. 2001. “L’innovazione nel marketing dell’arte: Un caso paradigmatico di economia dell’inovazione.” Sinergie, Rapporto di ricerca, no 11.

[13] Weltzl-Fairchild, A., and L.M. Dubé. 1998. “Le multi-média peut-il aider à réduire la dissonance cognitive?” Publics et Musées, no 13, p. 17-28.

[14] Caune, J. 1999. Pour une éthique de la médiation: le sens des pratiques culturelles. Grenoble: Presses de l’Université de Grenoble.

[15] Ficht, B.T. 2000. À l’ombre de la littérature. Montréal: XYZ.

[16] Serfaty-Garzon, P. 2003a. Chez soi. Les territoires de l’intimité. Paris: Armand Collin, p. 89.

[17] Joy, A., and J.R. Sherry. 2003. “Speaking of Art as Embodied Imagination: A Multi-sensory Approach to Understanding Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 30, September, p. 259-282.

[18] Pine, B.J., and J.H. Gilmore. 1999. The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.

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.