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!

JS-Monserrate Group Shot - Bogota-sm

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

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

Marie Bobin Headshot-Photo-Yulia-Gervits-250px

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.

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).

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.


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} 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.