Arts Enterprises: Management & Structures


Units: 12


Arts Enterprises: Structures and Management examines the fundamental structures, governance, and management systems involved in running a successful 21st century arts enterprise.  The course goes beyond a ‘principles of arts management’ position to introduce students to the local, national, and international forces that make running an arts-based business unique.  Students discover how arts enterprises are governed internally (formal leadership) and externally (public policy, market forces, and financial realities). Furthermore, students learn how enterprises engage multiple stakeholders, from artists or politicians to staff or audiences. Almost daily, arts managers are faced with choices that affect internal operation dynamics and external stakeholder relations.  During the course, students will discern the day-to-day systems and operations of well-run arts organizations and investigate moments of failure in order to find the lessons learned. The course provides a lens into the nexus of institution-artist-audience within a framework of mission-impact and ROI.


This course provides students with both the fundamentals and the emerging practices within arts enterprises creating a foundation for subsequent, advanced coursework. Students will encounter the theoretical frameworks necessary to understand the enterprise, and then ground the theory in real-life experience, case studies, and course-exercises.  The course is organized in 4 modules: Public Policy and the Arts, Law and Structuring a Business, Running the Enterprise, and Issues in the Field.


For the purpose of this course, arts enterprises will be defined as those that create relationships between artists and audiences. Arts enterprises include, but are not limited to: orchestras, opera companies, music ensembles, museums, arts centers, theatre companies, presenting organizations, multi-media centers, artist agencies, galleries, media and dance companies.

Learning Outcomes:

Articulate the assumptions embedded in arts-relevant public policy including the economic or social concerns driving those policies.

Recognize and engage with the various associations that encourage and support the professionalization of arts enterprises.

Construct a strong mission, vision, values statement for an arts enterprise

Dissect an organization’s business model and management structure.

Understand the differences and similarities between for-profit and not-for-profit structures and operations.

Understand governance and the role of a Board in corporate structures.

Determine the financial health of an organization.

Understand the fundamentals of budgets and budgeting.

Recognize the myriad external relations an organization addresses and identify their strategies for success or failure.

Recognize the impact of place, geography, economics, politics and various social forces on an organization’s structure and day-to-day operations.

Understand the industry’s human resources structures including guilds, unions, and agents.

Differentiate between management and leadership and recognize various approaches in each.

Understand the difference between a business plan and a strategic plan, including how to use the latter as a management tool.

Experience, in the safety of theory, the potential for failure and success in the creation of an arts enterprise.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses as manager and leader.