Arts Managers as Interfaces Between Arts and Finances
Fakultät 12 Institut für Soziologie Technische Universität Dortmund Dortmund, Germany
The public perception of arts managers is focused on their financial and administrative tasks. The sociological research on the profession also accentuates mainly the administrative and financial aspects of arts management (DiMaggio 1987 for example).
This has lead to an underestimation, even an unawareness of the partaking and the actual impact that arts mangers have on the core aspects of the artistic work they deal with: on the contents and on the ways of producing, performing, and presenting art to the audiences.
The former somewhat one-sided view on arts management should be corrected by surveying meticulously what arts managers actually do. And therefore the analysis should especially pay attention to their assumed partaking in two (or even more) social spheres and the supposed division of their tasks in such financial and such artistical, and how they deal with that at the same time.
An already well developed catalogue of similar matters is provided by the theoretical concept of functional differentiation as it is used by Niklas Luhmann (1997) and also (but with remarkable differences) by Pierre Bourdieu (1992) in his field concept. For speaking of differentiation inevitably raises the questions of the integration and cooperation of the differentiated spheres.
The qualitative study on arts managers presented here is based on 17 open interviews with arts managers of major classical orchestras, music festivals and concert halls. They were inquired in detail about the managing process accompanying their recent season. In the process of analysing the interviews has been made use of the concepts of functional differentiation and cooperation. The application of the theoretically induced list of questions produces distinctly different and interesting results concerning the role of arts managers as human interfaces between social spheres or fields as art and economy. In dealing with the increasingly precarious matter of financing the arts they actually have (and aim for) a high impact on matters that are hitherto seen as mere artistical. On the other hand, by taking the full responsibility for the finances and hereby influencing the artistic decisions they manage to keep the performing artists relatively free of financial considerations.