Arts Administration

By John Pick; Malcolm Anderton | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book is not a conventional text book, nor is it a conventional manual of management instruction. Yet the activity it is describing is of considerable, some would say supreme, importance. It is an activity undertaken in every country, all governments take a close interest in it, and its doings are frequently the subject of heated public debate. Its practitioners are also, as we shall see, bound by a common understanding of the nature of their work, and by a common ethical code. Yet arts administration is still not a profession, in any of the generally accepted senses of the term, and administering the arts well, though recognized as a highly specialized and skilled activity, still does not readily fit into any one academic category.

The nature of arts administration cannot be adequately described simply by offering the conventional description-'arts administrators are people who administer the arts'-for, in spite of the recurrent use of the word 'administration' in this book, those who administer the arts are quite different from those who administer more conventional activities. The skills of arts administration are practised in a curious realm midway between artists, the arts and people, and are fuelled by an extraordinary and variable span of skills involving art, arts criticism, politics, psychology, information science, economics, sociology and education.

So, although there are skills which can effectively be learned from a text book, and some forms of administration and management that can effectively be learned from a manual, arts administration is not one of them. Effective arts administration depends above all on a deep knowledge of, and commitment to, art. Neither that, nor the highly variable balance of skills needed by practising arts administrators, can possibly be taught in one book. It would be fraudulent to pretend otherwise. Arts Administration, it is hoped, will be helpful to readers who already have some knowledge of, and commitment to, the administering of the arts, but it cannot stand instead of that knowledge, that commitment, or that practical experience.

Nor will a general book such as this completely satisfy professional economists or management experts, who may seek for detailed application of their

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