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Online Program Explores Careers in Arts Management

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(Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons)

As UVM gets ready to debut its new Careers in Arts Management Professional Certificate, we talked to Natalie Neuert, director of the UVM Lane Series, about why she developed the new online arts program.

Could you tell us a little bit about arts management?

Arts management is about building bridges between artists and audiences with a focus on business and community — fundraising, development and education.

Arts management is a vibrant field with a whole range of professional opportunities at many levels. There are full-time programs out there, but we felt the need for a shorter term certificate program that would prepare people to move into internships and careers in the field where they could then continue to learn the business through practice.

This class will explore career opportunities in the arts presentation business and develop skills needed for working in the arts management field. Students will also learn about jobs in curation, marketing, fundraising, operations/production, box office, and what it takes to compete in this dynamic field.

What are some of the essential skills that arts management professionals need?

The essential skills are similar to any customer-service based business: communication, writing, and business management. But there are many unique skills needed that are satisfying to learn, such as interfacing with performers.

Can you describe what someone in arts management typically does?

There are eight main components of the arts presenting business: curation/programming; business management; fundraising, event support, grant writing and special events; education; audience development; marketing using traditional methods and social media; operations; and production. Within those areas are many subsets and specialty areas. It’s very common for people starting their career to move around within an organization to find a good fit. However, it would also be typical to be hired for a specific skill set or strength.

Generally speaking, what qualities and strengths are arts organizations looking for in candidates?

An understanding of how the business operates in general; strong writing and communication skills; a desire to work in a fast-paced and exciting environment; flexibility, a true love of live performance; and recognizing the importance of linking audiences and performers in an accessible way.

What are arts organizations not looking for in candidates?

People entering the field often want to start right with the most compelling part of the business — programming and curation. While that is definitely something to aspire to, it takes time, experience, training, as well as exposure to performance and connections to do it well. I think people who come right into the field expecting to choose artists are headed for disappointment. Also, I would say rigidity, and people who are looking for things to be wrapped up in a perfect package, would not be a good fit for this field.

Are there any misconceptions or challenges about the arts management world that you hope to address in the UVM program?

Certainly it is a complex field — you are dealing with artists and the artistic ego/personality as well as a very high level of customer service. It is not all the fun of “putting on a show” and taking selfies with famous performers backstage. It is a real business, with challenges and change happening at a very fast rate. You are almost always working non-traditional hours and sometimes very late at night. We live in a culture that celebrates fame and glamour, but the lives of working artists/performers is very far from that. We will address some of these misconceptions in the program.

Personally speaking, what is the most rewarding thing about working in arts management?

For me, it is the moment when the audience is in the hall, the lights go down, and the performer comes out on the stage. The joy and transformative power of live performance – it’s the moment we all work toward.

UVM CDE - Careers in Arts Management