28 - 31 August 2013
Torino, Italy

RS01 – Arts Management

Constance DeVereaux constance.devereaux@nau.edu
Karen van den Berg Karen.vandenberg@zu.de

The Research Stream on Arts Management aims to provide the sociological context for understanding the social aspects that characterize the practices of management, mediation, and co-ordination of the production, exhibition, and performance of artistic and cultural expression in their many forms. This includes a wide range of approaches for understanding and exploring the theoretical perspectives, methods, and practices of arts management, the perceptions and integrations of values, empirical debates, and critiques of how artistic and cultural enterprises are managed, particularly within the context of the dynamic changes and crises of the 21st century and new critiques of art world systems that submit to critique the interests, roles, values, and assumptions relating to arts management and arts managers, as well as questioning whether they fulfil a continued need.

The ESA Research Stream Arts Management invites abstracts on all aspects of arts management theory and practice. We express a special interest in papers addressing the following themes.


  • 01RS01 Issues in Arts Management (open)
    chair: Constance DeVereaux <cdevux@gmail.com>, Colorado State University
  • 02RS01 Is There Too Much Art?
    chair: Karen van den Berg <karen.vandenberg@zu.de>, Zeppelin Universität

    Such a question seems hardly possible in the world of arts and cultural management, which presupposes current conditions for creation and production where resources are always lacking and the task of justifying the case for more funding, for more arts is common practice.

    To pose the question seriously means that we reject the central premise of arts and cultural management systems to explore the case for management of arts and culture in new ways. It is to ask the un-askable because it breaks many deeply entrenched assumptions. Given the current ontological crisis in art world systems, this question emerges as an opportunity for self-reflection and profound scrutiny regarding the role and function of arts managers today and in the future. The example of MOCA in Los Angeles, and the recent resignation of the well-regarded curator Paul Schimmel, may suggest a backlash against art systems where some arts managers have been accused of appealing to the whim of effervescent fashion and shock or of serving the interests of art market and collectors who create their own systems of discourse out of step with traditional aims of museums and arts institutions. The values of an enterprise society may also blur the concept of art leading to an overabundance (indeed an oversaturation) of aesthetic forms.

    The central theme of this research stream is to pose, in a serious way, the question: is there too much art? We wish to consider the possible answers for management and mediation of the arts and culture. If there is too much art, what can or should the arts manager do in order to fulfil her role?

  • 03RS01 Arts Management – Hype, Narrative, and Self-Reflection
    chair: Constance DeVereaux <cdevux@gmail.com>, Colorado State University, Karen van den Berg <karen.vandenberg@zu.de>, Zeppelin Universität

    There are those who contend that museums and other cultural institutions have become just another mass medium that often do not differentiate between education/preservation and popular entertainment. The quality versus access debate has largely been decided in favour of an all-embracing access often with little heeding of evaluative criteria as a pre-requisite for exhibition or performance (other than the criteria of how many people will attend). The emphasis on self-fashioning as an artistic value may also draw us away from art that fulfils a common societal function to arts participation focused on the needs, tastes, and desires of single individuals. The hype of the culture industries means that every artistic endeavour must be professional, mediated, and monetized. At the same time, the requirement that art be ever innovative, on the edge, and attention grabbing may be a way of limiting what art can be for a great many people. Is the dichotomy between art as surface (taste) and art as knowledge still legitimate and what would this mean for arts and cultural management? Must art always question the necessary condition of art as a prerequisite for serious consideration? Is there a balance between education and hype or does one necessarily cancel out the other?

    Given that arts management as a field has yet to come fully to terms with its societal role (if indeed it has one), the above concerns are all the more salient. Papers wrestling with sociological issues relating to communitarian versus individual values in art production and presentation, ethical concerns in these areas, and the social values that can be supported or diminished as the result of cultural institutions and their practices are especially welcome.

  • 04RS01 Arts Management Crisis, Critique, and Change

    Is Arts Management in a crisis? Many argue that the field continues to exhibit fragmentation, loose borders that make it hard to define its disciplinary boundaries, un-scrutinized methods, and an over-reliance on traditional (or untested “best”) practices. The field has also been accused of being reactive, addressing past crises instead of present ones with little regard for what the future might be. Here we seek papers that address issues of crisis, present well-researched critique, or pose possibilities for change. Is there a future role for arts management as the art world continues to transform itself? Is the professional arts manager anachronistic and irrelevant as arts experience, production, dissemination, and collaboration is increasingly individualized and personal (especially as technology provides ever more inexpensive and accessible means to do so)? Has the movement towards professionalization which launched arts management as a field, come to its end? What critiques should the field respond to in order to foster self-reflection and self-initiated change? These and other relevant questions addressing the supposed or real crisis and changes in the field are of interest for this research stream.

Thank you very much to all participants for making esa torino an outstanding conference.