Managing Innovation in the Arts: Making Art Work

Managing Innovation in the Arts: Making Art Work

Managing Innovation in the Arts: Making Art Work

Managing Innovation in the Arts: Making Art Work

Synopsis

A main justification for public funding of the arts is to protect the arts from the marketplace and to encourage experimentation and innovation. But little is known about the actual innovation process. Is funding the only issue? Protecting the arts from the marketplace has up to now been the main item in any discussion of artistic creativity. This publication provides a privileged insight which both fills out and refocuses the picture. She examines the operation of three performing arts companies from Ireland, a country whose reputation for creativity far outweighs its small size and population, and finds that innovation in the arts requires uncommon dedication, persistence and sacrifice. Fitzgibbon's book is essential reading for arts policy makers, managers, administrators, donors and potential donors, and for serious students of arts and culture management in the academic community.

Excerpt

Take almost any arts policy statement—an Arts Council report, a government arts plan, a mission statement for a national theater company, a metropolitan cultural center, or a local arts organization—anywhere in the Western world, and you can be sure to find an allusion to innovation. Why is this? First, trivial though it may seem, there is the trendiness of innovation in whatever field. In the organizational world as in all others, fashions come and go. A quick survey of the jobs section of a newspaper is ample illustration of the desirablity of this elusive and illdefined quality: “Innovation is our password,” or, “We are looking for an executive with an innovative approach.” Even when an organization might need to consolidate, they look for innovative flair. This trend is reflected too in the volumes of business and management books on the subject. In short, innovation is to the organizational world today what reliability was in the 1950s. The arts world is no exception. Indeed, here the subject has added intensity derived from the notion that innovation is the very raison d'être of the arts sector, itself regarded as the crucible of creativity. Organizations that in other ways are very successful—high production values, good audiences, solvent accounts—are decried as boring if they fail on the innovative front. Conversely, those that are perpetually in the red, have eccentric management arrangements, and five lonely souls sitting in the echoing auditorium, may well be hailed as path-breaking and innovative and enjoy the patronage, at least in terms of verbal support, of the cognoscenti. Though a bit of a caricature, the readiness with which one can call up examples gives a degree of validity to this characterization. True artistic success is identified with innovation and arts organizations ignore this at their peril.

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