International Perspectives on Managing Arts and Heritage


Units: 6


Arts management faces enormous differences in contexts across the world, in backgrounds and social aspects affecting both consumption and production of arts, in addition to differences in administrative traditions. The course will provide a basic understanding of the variety of contexts within an international comparative view, providing some basic analytical tools and developing skills to deal with these aspects. The focus will be on countries other than the US (assuming that CMU students already get a deep knowledge of the domestic reality): based on extensive field research in the last two decades, case studies provided are outside the realm of influence of the common law and commonwealth tradition.

A first set of differences refers to ways in which management itself is conceptualized and taught. At a general level differences can be found in the emphasis given to the notion of leadership as opposed to more participatory notions of management as social practices. Also, a different attention can be found towards assumptions about decision making and unanticipated consequences of human action in managing – not as “errors & mistakes”, but as normal conditions in complex organizations, according to a bounded rationality perspective. Consequently, a different importance emerges about the role of goals versus processes.

Another set of differences relates more specifically to the world of arts & culture, with serious variations related to the different role played by philanthropy, the market or the State. While understanding basic principles of fundraising is crucial for any art manager, most of students will face a different context in their countries, where arts management is embedded inside the public sector. Elements of public administration are needed to interact with these different contexts, and the huge processes of change characterizing them worldwide. Different meanings assumed by cultural polices also need to be understood.

A further set of differences is related to the prevalence of different forms of arts. While performing arts and contemporary visual arts are relevant all over the world, the role of history can be perceived as crucial in other countries, impacting the ways in which arts are conceived, promoted and consumed. This requires for an art manager the capability of dialoguing with a variety of disciplines and agenda in a more holistic way.

Finally, cultural heritage in particular represents an important chapter in arts management in countries which have a greater attention to history and cultural traditions. Dealing with cultural heritage requires additional knowledge and skills, interacting with specialists from humanities (archaeologists, historians, museologists), with delicate issues of balance between preservation and uses, long term sustainability, and soft implications in terms of identity that need to be understood and faced in some ways. These aspects are challenging, but also represent huge opportunities. A relevant portion of the labor market in countries where cultural heritage plays a crucial role (Europe, China and Asia, but also Latin America and possibly Africa) is calling for the contribution of arts managers. This also represents a challenge and potential opportunity for US students, to be part of a process of awareness building of heritage even in the US.

Learning Outcomes:

The course aims at impacting students’ learning at three levels:

  • In terms of attitudes helping students perceiving and accepting the variety of issues and approaches in arts management within an international open minded view.
  • In terms of knowledge proving frameworks and analytical tools to deal with issues that are relevant in this regards (management rhetoric across time and space; organizational processes involved in the strategic change of arts organizations; arts organizations in relation to reforms inside the public sector; the role plaid by international agencies in the heritage field; the impact on identity and sustainability of arts/heritage organizations).
  • In terms of skills, developing capabilities of understanding and dialoguing with a variety of contexts, and of coping with such a variety to improve the effectiveness of managing arts and heritage projects and organizations.