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Arts Management

Arts management involves coordinating the behind-the-scene aspects of the arts, ranging from theater to music, museums, dance and film. Many universities throughout the world offer undergraduate or graduate degrees in arts management or similar disciplines.

For any art program to be successful, the management also needs to be successful. An arts manager must be able to not only manage other employees by hiring, developing, compensating and promoting, but also requires skills in the areas of fund raising, board development and marketing. The management of human resources within arts organizations is sometimes a major challenge to arts managers.

During the 19th century, arts managers came from many different backgrounds and exhibited different styles of leadership. The most successful managers were those who used a combination of authority, charisma and entrepreneurship. These managers generally came from an upper-class background, had an adventurous early life not necessarily connected to an art discipline, were able to relate to people on a personal level and paid close attention to detail when it came to their management responsibilities. Arts managers of the early 20th century tended to be less flamboyant than their predecessors, while at the same time have more direct art experience.

The trend towards a new type of art manager, known as an arts administrator, emerged after 1960. This administrator is formally educated to run an organization, and does not rely solely on charm or personal ties to be successful. Before educational programs became available for aspiring arts managers, prospective managers needed to initiate contracts with an organization they were interested in working for via relationships with trustees, donors, actors or singers.

In 1966, Yale University and Florida State University became the first educational institutions to offer postgraduate programs in arts administration, initially in theater and later in other art disciplines. Ten years later, there were 12 such training programs and in 1981, 23 universities offered postgraduate programs in arts administration and another 13 had programs in museum administration. The program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison encompasses disciplines such as arts administration, microeconomics, budget control, marketing and statistics. Although management skills are basically the same for all art disciplines, a degree of specialization in that particular field is also required.

Art museums are complex organizations, in which managers have to deal with trustees and boards as well as curators, dealers, collectors, artists, public groups and national museum organizations. Museums usually are staffed with a museum director, an assistant director, department heads and administrative personnel. Depending on the size and budget of the museum, these jobs may be filled either by volunteers or by paid employees. The museum may be a for-profit or nonprofit organization.

Administrative staff working in fundraising, public relations or sales may need a degree or experience. Executive management positions in museums can include president, director and assistant director. Business positions in museums can include administrative director, accountant, data services manager, personnel manager and purchasing manager. Depending on its size and location, a museum may hire a store manager, food services manager, special events manager, visitor services manager, security guards and building maintenance workers.

The president of a museum could be a trustee who is a volunteer or could be paid. Sometimes the president is also known as the director or CEO of the museum. The president of the museum would need to have experience in the field and should know about administrative management and fundraising.

The director of a museum, who can also be the CEO, is in charge of the general operation of the museum. Museum directors will usually have a degree in business administration, museum studies or a different field and will have experience in management and fundraising. The director is responsible for funding, planning, staffing, supervising and coordinating activities.

An assistant director's job varies according to the type and size of the museum, and can include the same responsibilities as the director. Alternatively, the assistant director may be responsible for a specific department or activity of the museum.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Museum Careers and Training: A Professional Guide
Victor J. Danilov.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Museum Exhibition: Theory and Practice
David Dean.
Routledge, 1996
Marketing the Museum
Fiona McLean.
Routledge, 1997
Nonprofit Enterprise in the Arts: Studies in Mission and Constraint
Paul J. DiMaggio.
Oxford University Press, 1986
An Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War
Peter H. Hoffenberg.
University of California Press, 2001
Garden without a Destiny: Untangling Landscape Narratives at the National Museum of Australia
Walliss, Jillian.
Journal of Australian Studies, No. 83, September 2004
Landscape with Figures: A History of Art Dealing in the United States
Malcolm Goldstein.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Managing Innovation in the Arts: Making Art Work
Marian Fitzgibbon.
Quorum Books, 2001
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