Arts Management and the Practice of Practice
not applicable Independent Scholar Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
The theoretical problems of arts management are not apparent to the unaided eye of the practicing arts manager. To be sure, most arts managers are not aware of the theoretical underpinnings of their field, much less the notion that any problem of a theoretical nature might exist. Yet, in a field so focused on practice, lack of awareness - itself - presents a problem. The attempt to incorporate the concrete practices of management into the ethereal and ineffable dimensions of art (even if limited to the arena of practice) necessarily presents challenges of theoretical import. Typically, effectiveness and success in arts management are seen as outcomes relating to the conduct of specific tasks, i.e., managing the production, organization, distribution, and marketing of the arts, for example. Analysis tends towards the overly empirical with little concern for foundational assessment of arts management practices in themselves. In other words, there is no practice of assessing the practices from a broader, conceptual view. Stated in more philosophical terms, arts management suffers from its own problem of the diallelus. The way out is to engage in theoretical consideration of arts management practice with a view towards developing a discourse of practice as a tool of reflection.
Expanding earlier work by this author, the paper draws on the practice theorists such as Theodor Schatzki, Charles Taylor, and others to look at the fundamental phenomena of the field and the intangible notions of practice, in arts management, as objects to be examined through a theoretically critical lens. The paper argues that an analysis of arts management practice through a discourse of practice will have advantage in development of a field where reaction to social and political forces is more common than pro-action, and where practices have been adopted, for convenience, from other fields with little regard for how suited they are for application in the realm of arts and culture. It also argues that theoretical engagement will serve to elevate the awareness of the importance of the arts in human interaction and development, as well as an ability, among arts managers, to articulate those values.