Throughout my career as an arts manager I have been asked: “But, what exactly is an arts manager? What do you do for a living?” Arts managers are producers of cultural events and managers of cultural products of various disciplines. They manage small to mid-sized cultural not-for-profit organizations, and they are business leaders of larger creative industries.
They may specialize in one of the disciplines of not-for-profit management: marketing and publicity; fundraising and development; volunteer management; project and event management; program development; or community and stakeholder relations — or they may be generalists who are involved in all aspects of arts management. Some arts managers are artists themselves, and still others are deeply passionate about the arts, but more comfortable behind the scenes.
I fall into the latter category. Raised in a musical Latvian family, I was exposed to choral singing at a very young age. I attended a Latvian music camp in Mount Orford, Quebec at the age of 15, where I had the opportunity to meet professional musicians and hear their performances, and to participate in my first choral masterclasses.
As much as I enjoyed this incredible musical experience, I was most curious about what was happening behind the scenes, what the producer of this music camp was doing to make it all happen. Inspired by her administrative prowess, I produced my first amateur chamber music concert at a church in downtown Toronto three years later at the age of 18.
After gaining valuable business experience in the corporate sector, I began a full-time career in arts management, working primarily with choral organizations and festivals in Toronto. Many years later, I had the distinct privilege of partnering with a Latvian conductor to represent him and his choir internationally and organize special projects and tours across Europe and North America over a five-year period. Collaborating with arts organizations in other parts of the world opened my eyes to different business practices and approaches, and the world of international arts management. It was through this experience that I was inspired to broaden my career path to learn about and work with international organizations on global cultural projects.
The Master of Management in International Arts Management (MMIAM) program was launched in 2013. At this point, I had been working as a professional arts manager for over twenty years, and the opportunity to leave my familiar surroundings, to experience a year of study, learning about different arts management practices on four very diverse international campuses, with students from around the world, was the kind of challenge I was looking for. My story is one of many which led to the MMIAM program. This blog is an extension of that journey.
Welcome to The MMIAM Journey, a blog about the Master of Management in International Arts Management program. Every month, we will share the academic and personal experiences of MMIAM alumni and interview members of our International Advisory Committee and faculty about their projects, research and perspectives. As an added bonus, we will publish a summary of a research article or company profile from HEC’s International Journal of Arts Management. We hope you enjoy learning more about our unique program and reading about the challenges and trends we are seeing in the field of arts management around the world today.